Recently on a coaching call one of my clients shared with me her love of the game of golf. If you seen me speak at a conference or leadership session, you may have heard me use golf as metaphor for how we measure success in our business and our lives.
You see, golf is a game that cannot be won, it’s simply a game that you play. Some days you play really well, and the game seems easy. As your shots go exactly where you want them to go you may even start to think to yourself, man I got this game, I’m really good at it.
Then there are those other days, when nothing seems to go the way you planned, you struggle to simply put the tee in the ground, and the game seems virtually impossible to play, let alone one that you can master. As you watch yet another shot sail out of bounds or into the pond, you might think to yourself, why do I even bother to play this game? Why do I choose to create this type of frustration in my life? Golf is a game you play, not a game you win. Sometimes you play great, and sometimes you don’t.
Getting back to my Coaching conversation, my client told me that in order for her to get to the next level she decided to work with a golf-pro to completely change her swing. Anyone that has attempted to do so knows just how frustrating this process can be.
To start with, changing your swing is really uncomfortable, and initially if feels like attempting to write with your non-dominant hand. As you struggle to get a feel for the new way of doing something you’ve done the same way for so long, it can be extremely awkward. The only way to ease that discomfort is to practice over and over again until is starts to feel a bit more normal.
The same can be said of change in our own lives. Doing things differently than the way you’ve always done them, feels strange at first and completely awkward. Creating a new habit takes weeks, and sometimes even months before it feels somewhat comfortable. Giving yourself the time to practice and hone this new skill is essential. Yet our patience often wears thin and it’s much easier to go back to what we have done for so long. Allow yourself permission and time to learn your new way of doing things and remember your goal of long-term improvement.
After we put in our time and we feel like we have it down on the practice range, now we get to take those adjustments out onto the golf course and into the real world. Here is where our changes can cause us to feel like we are moving backwards. Simple shots that we used to hit with ease now become extremely difficult. Our scores actually go up instead of go down, and again this is usually when many tend to give up and go back to the way they used to do it.
The hard part is to stick with it, and know that the reason you have made these changes and adjustments in the first place is to create real long-term sustainability and improvements. Making this type of long-term commitment will often come at the sake of short-term gains. While in our minds we recognize that the change is for the better, it requires going a few steps backwards before those gains can be realized.
Once we finally get a bit more comfortable using our new skills in the real world there is still one more hurdle to get over before our new way becomes permanent… Pressure and Stress.
You see at it’s core, the human brain is designed for one specific task, and that’s to keep you alive. So according to your brain whatever you did yesterday is good enough since you are still here alive and breathing. While you are feeling good and proud of yourself for making a real change in the way you have always done something, once we experience pressure or stress filled situations you brain is hard-wired to go back to what you know.
Until you have conditioned yourself to stick with your new way of doing things under extreme pressure or stress, you haven’t really made the change part of your life. Here is where you get to trust yourself or in golf terms “trust your swing.” When everything is on the line and it really counts if you can stick to your new way of doing in the critical moments, than you have actually mastered your new habit. This is what creates long-term sustainable change in our business and in our lives.
As I mentioned earlier, leadership and life is a lot like the game of golf. It’s a game that cannot be won, but rather a game that you simply play. Some days you play great, some days you don’t, but always remember to keep moving the ball forward.
Ask yourself this week:
What changes have you made in your business and in your life that you are having difficulty adjusting to?
Have you given yourself sufficient time and practice to make it a habit?
What is your plan to stick with your new habit under pressure and stress?
Remember to celebrate the little victories along your path to creating a new habit.
Thoughts for the week:
Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. –Robin Sharma
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change. –Jim Rohn
Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken. –Warren Buffett
When you are finished changing, you are finished. – Ben Franklin
The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change. – Bill Clinton
Everyone thinks of changing the world, no one thinks of changing himself. –Leo Tolstoy
Cheers to your continued success, One Quarter Turn at a Time