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golfGolf…I’ve always wondered about the fascination with golf, and certainly never thought it would be a sport for me.  Emily, my daughter, and I took lessons this summer.  Perhaps it was the gorgeous, warm but low-humidity summer that gives the season a great reputation, or perhaps it was some unique mother-daughter time. A serene, park-like setting? Maybe a fantastic golf pro? Whatever the case, I’m hooked!

Part of what fascinates me about golf is the combination of skills and mindsets required….it’s partly doing, yet also requires you to simply be. Let go and just be in the moment.  You cannot think your way too hard, but rather, a loosening up to where you are at that moment.  It’s a back and forth, a rhythm created between focusing and relaxing.

I tend to get pretty immersed in the learning process and find it challenging to figure out how something works. Generally, fast and immediate works for me! Not so in the driving range…more is not better.  The pro says a bucket of 30 balls should take about 35-45 minutes, not the 15 minutes I was taking before going back and getting more balls. “Use the thinking chair, Maryanne, and just take some deep breaths, ” he says.  So I do. I slow down. I breath. I feel. I try again.

With my coaching clients this summer, it seems perfectionism and the drive toward “getting it all right” has been a theme. There is little room for failure, so trying new things and taking risks don’t happen as often.  So, how do we fail?  What is our response when results are less than expected? We mess up?  Is there a way to fail successfully?

When things don’t work in our jobs or life in general, it can show us opportunity; the stretch can become ours if we choose it to be.  Setting up a growth mindset allows us more flexibility to learn and improve. This mindset separates our efforts from the outcome, and be an observer, not judge, of what worked and didn’t work. A fixed mindset, however, believes that talents and abilities are fixed, and the tendency is to appear capable as possible since failure would be threatening and indicate a lack of talent.

This can show up in a practical way through our inner dialogue with what we say to ourselves.  It might be easy to find to say, “I am so stupid” or “I cannot get this right,” especially when trying new things or tackling a big challenge. But when we say it, we tend to act on it!  It’s tough for the brain to decipher what is just “talk” and what is real. Therefore, we can become believers of what we say.  Consider shifting the language and say, “Oh, I see how that works now” or perhaps using more objective statements such as, “That is harder to do than it looks” so it’s about the task and not so much about you.

Learning from the past, but not letting it judge the future… yes, every golf swing feels that way to me. I have to let go of what was and step into the moment. Maybe that’s what I’m hooked on golf…Or, maybe it’s just showing up in a beautiful place and just having a good time!

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