Think of achievement, either personal or professional, as a golf course. Each hole on the course represents a significant goal. Trees, thick grass, water, and sand are all designed to distract you. When you are facing your toughest test do you bully the course or does it bully you?
The Executive Athlete looks at the pin, removes the driver from his bag and settles over the ball. He looks at his target again, swings back, pauses, and then drives down and through the ball with all his might. The ball whistles through the air and lands neatly on the green.
This is what the physical and mental preparation of an athlete can create.
“When I look at the golf course, I dont see trouble. I see opportunities. It might have tight fairways or heavy rough or be super long thats fine by me. On tour, we expect a tough test. But Im not sure everyone has that kind of mindset. I think a lot of golfers see a hard hole or stretch of holes, and instead of revving up, they get defensive.” – Dustin Johnson, #1 Golfer in the world
Instead of being aggressive, amateur golfers opt for the safe play on the toughest holes. That is ok if they make a good swing, but that not usually what happens. They try and steer the ball down the fairway. Their swing becomes short and hesitant. They usually end up in trouble.
The unhealthy executive approaches their biggest challenges in the same way.
The tired executive sees not the pin but the obstacles (the trees, sand and water hazard). To avoid these obstacles, he reaches into his bag and pulls out the putter. Tap. Tap. Tap. He doubts his ability and chooses the low risk, less demanding tap-tap instead of a single, powerful swing.
But the powerful swing travels over obstacles. The executive who reaches for his driver instead of his putter recognizes that the hazards aren’t problems as much as they are distractions.
Since he is rested, he can see not only how to get the result but also how to do it in the most efficient way.
Most importantly, he understands that the power and precision in his swing are the results of the time he has given his mind and body to rest and repair.
It’s not just the big swing that is needed; it’s the focus that precedes it. The sleep-deprived executive who pulls the driver out of his bag may put everything he has into one big swing, but it’s almost certain he’ll shank the ball into the trees.
Dustin Johnson started the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straight on the 10th hole. It has a bunker in the middle of the fairway that requires a 265m carry. Catch the bunker and he would start one of the four majors of the year with a bogey or worse.
When warming up his coach, Butch Harmon told Dustin that it might be good to hit 4-iron to avoid the sand. Dustin disagreed.
Nah, I’m just going to send it.
Butch loved that term. Dustin crushed his driver, cleared the bunker and birdied the hole.
When you are striving to achieve a significant goal do you reach for the safety of the putter or the power of the driver?
When you want to get something done do you bully the course? Do you trust your physical and mental preparation? Are you brave enough to just send it!