Monday, January 26, 2009

Golf Mental Tip: Will Power. "Just Do it."

by Carey Mumford

We are not sure about the origins of such expressions, but we do know they were at least reinforced over a number of recent years by more than one "guru." Many folks are familiar with and fond of the philosophies of those like Maxwell Maltz, Anthony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill, Og Mandino, and others who say something like "If you can think it, you can do it." That may be OK as far as it goes, but once examined, it becomes clear that will only be true provided you have the required resources to initiate it. It's certain we won't do much without the thinking, but that's only half way home.

Corey Pavin supplied the occasion for a real time illustration of this demeanor in the second round of the US Open. He slid a putt past the hole, and the commentator said "He didn't talk to it." His colleague replied "That's what happened." That's could be a "ho, ho, ho," applied to "will power," or it could be a patent belief. If they were joking, that's OK, but it surely fits the modern mind-set.

Why mention this? Because it is among the subtle, soaking, seductive, saturation of the mind set of modern America, and it not only affects our politics and religion, it also invades and prejudices the learning and playing of our golf. It comes at us relentlessly, as in the drive-thru "everything." If something cannot be gained or achieved instantly, frustration and/or some form of despair, if not resignation is apt to follow. Take a close enough look and you will notice the boundary less folly of an over-indulged culture.

How many golf training aids, for instance, can you mention that promise to "fix'" you up in five, maybe six, swings? So "will power" and "just do it" keep being nurtured, if not re-created, over and over.

If "will power," was all that it is most often touted to be, a lot of "self-willed" types would have won the lottery long ago and become champions on the golf course, as well as in other walks of life. Even if "will power" worked, as advertised, it wouldn't fill voids in personal resources. We've all heard that worn comment "he willed it in the hole." So who needs a putter? Perhaps you have even heard or read the words "You have to will yourself to do better."

The expression itself - "will power" - is arguably designed to fill a vacuum left by not having embraced things like ability, skill, habits, self-understanding, responsibility, perseverance, self-discipline, commitment, motivation and/or folks who do know those things to instruct us. It certainly has not embraced the normal time-frames of any developmental process that has commensurate value.

Depending on the condition of our resources, the expression "will power" blows a destructive trumpet creating an inner command that one's system should "try harder," and that, among other things, will add stress on top of stress. The primary advocates of will power rarely mention self-discipline or self-understanding. They just pledge allegiance to "Just do it!" Under that gun, what used to be a simple flinch once in awhile in our games can be transformed easily into a full fledged case of the "yips."

Assumptions applied to "will power" are many.

"Will power" suggests to a non discriminatory system, upon making a mistake, that it is guilty as sin and must be failing in its quest to "just do it." As if anyone needed more anxiety, that is sure to pound more into the system. Any process breakdown is a candidate to be seen as failure and that can turn quickly into self-defeating attitudes. It becomes a recipe for golfing tension, forcing the swing and play into diminishing degrees of accuracy and/or consistency. Oh, sure, we all have somehow "played through" minor instances, more than once, but what a commentary that provides! It's like saying, "Yep, I had a wreck, but I still managed to drive myself to the hospital." It's not so easy to "play through" any major moments.

When those expressions ("will power" and "just do it") appear, they bear a resemblance to duct tape and Bondo. They form a patchwork means of holding things together in relief of an "injured" game or filling a gap in processes related to inner challenge (motivation), or perhaps a "cover" for incomplete preparation in a solitary game that threatens to leave us where we didn't want to go.

But, in an instant satisfaction culture, If something is not satisfying us, all we have to do to dismiss it is "pigeon hole" it or give it a result oriented name. Then we don't have to deal with its meaning or the process steps required to reach a goal. If I call myself a "hacker," I free myself from any need or attempt to improve. And that sort of demeanor will be found quite different for each one of us.

So "will power" really gets used as shorthand for having vacated or missed the harder, but more productive, routes in our early developmental years. Those were marked by opportunities to engage in self-knowledge, self-discipline, taking responsibility, finding skills and habit development. If that mission was fulfilled, it is a cinch it was supported by appropriate commitments while learning and preparing. "Will power" is an easy out for those who somehow missed the early fundamentals. It has become the guy in the gallery shouting out "Get in the hole!!" It's the person who believes that "positive thinking" will work even with insufficient skill or preparation. Such expressions invite a journey that is more concerned with short termed wishful thinking than with long term success and satisfaction.

To begin with, "Just do it" really only fits approximately 11% of the population who make up the bottom line oriented behavior style known as Driver (the ones who produced these expressions). About 19% more are the "social animals" we refer to as Persuaders, who may use the expression, but follow it with a "Ho, ho, ho" (the ones who would rather party). The other 70% (Craftsmen - laid back and steady - and Analyzers - detailed and precise) may give lip-service, but quietly smirk or pay little attention to such slogans, since they are more apt to recognize veneer when they see it. All of that is built into the genetic fabric of human behavior. So will power is little more than a cerebral exercise for most. You will seldom, if ever, hear a process statement connected with "Just do It?" (Ask the question "How do you do that?" and see what you get for a response).

When self-understanding and self-discipline are present (as opposed to self-indulgence and absence of knowledge of human behavior), the expression "will power" is no longer needed. It is subsumed in the context. The power of will is already there. It needs no flag waving. It only needs relevant information and management tools.

Our take is that the power of will is no more or less than the accompanying commitment we need to build and implement our skills and habits. If we don't have the tools, there is no power that will compensate. And by all means it is only part of a process and not just a way to arrive without making the trip.

If all you desire is a chance to be with friends and "diddle" with the game, you won't need any of this, but if you are looking for growth and development in your game (or life), the preceding is prologue and pre-requisite.

(Gulf news update)

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