Do you believe things should be perfect in your life, or you should have a perfect swing or perfect golf game? As I work with many athletes and consider different ways a golfer might achieve peak performance, something that comes up a lot is the word ‘perfection’. Perfection is probably the most common trap golfers fall into without even being consciously aware that they are falling into it. Why is that? What is wrong with seeking perfection that I would label it a trap?
If we take a look at a quote from one of my hypnosis product suggestions, I think it will help you better understand the implications of perfection on a golfer’s ability to achieve peak performance. The quote is:
“I understand there is no such thing as perfect – not person, not swing, not in life, not in golf – we are all growing and evolving.”
The issue of perfection comes up a lot when I am working with golfers to help them achieve peak performance. It is quite amazing, actually, when you can step out of your lives and thoughts long enough to see how you have this set expectation of perfection in what you do; according to your own definition of what that may be. You must realize that everyone perceives things in a certain way, and has expectations based on those perceptions. People have definitions of how they think things should go perfectly, and they suffer from stress, insomnia, overeating, drinking and drug problems, all as a result of the fact that things did not go the way they thought they ‘should go.’ They think things should be a certain way and when they are not, they freak out about it – in one degree or another (mildly freaking out, or excessively freaking out about it).
So what I am saying in this suggestion is that I understand there is no such thing as perfect. I wake up in the morning with a general idea of how my day will go: appointments, meetings, deadlines and things I need or want to get done. I have a general flow in my mind. The problem is, I somehow believe that just because I have decided that is the way my day should go, I get pretty upset if it does not go that way. Now, I am just like any other human on this planet, but I have worked really hard to observe this tendency in myself and move away from it. I can still fall into the trap again, though, as many of you do. So how can you avoid the trap in order to achieve peak performance?
The first thing you need to have, when it comes to detecting perfection in your thinking, is awareness. It is likely that many of you do not even realize you are in the trap. You just expect your defined perfection, the personal definition you have for yourself, about people in your life, strangers, someone driving down the road, how your work and life should be, how much money you should make, how the economy should be, how politics should be handled and so on, to be the way things should be. Once you form that conclusion, you become agitated when someone does not meet with your idea of perfection – what you think they should be doing.
So change comes first from awareness, and then you need to let your definitions go. You need to let go of your expectations of perfection, based on your definition, and start to view life a bit more open minded and mindfully. You ultimately want the ability to be present in situations around other people, free of those visual or perceived expectations of perfection. When you do, you will find that you are even more present in life than ever, because your conscious mind will no longer take you out of the joy of the moment while it analyzes and thinks about how things should be different, or how they are wrong and should be some other way. The whole time your mind does that, you are unable to operate at your peak level of performance. So it is very important to let those expectations of perfection go.
Now let’s transfer that over to the golf course and into your swing. What level of perfection are you expecting for yourself in your swing? What level are you expecting while you play at certain holes? Do you have a level of expectation that does not allow for reality? Are you going into a shot thinking about how it should play out, how you should be able to take on that hole, and then get frustrated with yourself, your life, the club, the ball or the course when it does not go the way you thought it should go? I am sure this happens a lot.
The reason I am sure is because I have worked with tons of golfers that have fallen into the trap of not recognizing how far they have already come on their journey of learning, evolving and growing, but still have much to learn and fall into the rut of getting angry and frustrated at themselves for not playing perfectly. So recognize that it is just like spinning your tires in the snow, on a sandy beach or in mud. Your growth, learning, and evolution in your golf game becomes stagnant as long as you maintain expectations of perfection and chew yourself out when you have not met those expectations. You need to recognize how far you have come, that you are on a timeline that does not stop right now, that all aspects of your golf game are evolving, you perform some areas better than others, and that is perfectly okay. Recognition is key to moving yourself toward achieving peak performance.
Since I have just used the word perfect, I will add a little twist here. Now that you have this concept down that I have just explained, you need to realize that things are perfect just the way they are. I had to take you mentally through that journey for you to understand that there is no such thing as perfect as long as you are using your old definitions that were based on your perceptions and expectations. I want you to see that there is perfect, but it is just not according to your definition; it is perfect just the way it is. To see that things are perfect just the way they are comes from you being mindful and present in what is happening, rather than being caught up in some storyline in your mind of how you think things should be. That is absolutely necessary if you want any hope of achieving peak performance.
It takes lots of effort, work and diligence to let go of those old mindsets, and I suggest you get to work on them starting now. A stumbling block for lots of people when I explain this is that they fear complacency. They fear and have a hard time computing that they are supposed to be okay with ‘so-called’ bad thoughts, or okay when the ball does not land where they wanted. I say ‘yes’, be okay with it, but it does not mean you become complacent. Be okay since it is your reality at that moment. It is really where the ball has landed. You will be stuck in the mud if you argue and get mad about it. You will move forward when you accept it, learn from it and allow yourself to grow and evolve from that information. Then you will see your performance levels improving, but not until you drop those old perceptions of perfection.
I gave you a lot to process here, so I suggest you read this a few times to really digest the information. It will take you far in your golf game, in life, and in all of your relationships with yourself and others. If you would like some extra help with this, I am available for you. By understanding that there is no such thing as perfect – not in a person, not in a swing, not in life, not in golf – we are all growing and evolving, you will alleviate much pressure and stress, and truly be able to achieve peak performance. It is possible, and I wish you much success in your journey. Have an amazing day!