Golf is a game of inches.
Whether it’s a close putt that doesn’t quite make it or it’s an iron from 159 yards that got so incredibly close it leaves you wondering what you could have done to see the ball disappear into the white abyss measuring in at a tormenting four and a quarter inches wide. Think about your early days at the course. As the ball wouldn’t quite make it you might have laughed a little or felt that slight letdown after the buildup that comes with watching your ball pierce through the air, take a favorable bounce and slow it’s roll as it almost sinks into the hole.
As you improved you began seeing more and more of these close calls turn into lower numbers on the scorecard. You began executing the shot you intended and things began working out more and more. The more this happened the more you wanted it to continue to happen. As you grew accustomed to sinking the shots you planned you might have started to expect that doing so would continue to happen. And now, when you do miss a close shot it’s no longer a fun frustration of what if and more of a you’ve got to be kidding me, WHY?!
I get it. You dedicate time, energy, and hard-earned dollars into your game and make commitments that you’d like to see pan out. While this is all well and fine to a degree, there does come a time when the pursuit of excellence crosses over into perfectionism. This is somewhere we want to stay away from.
Where does perfectionism come from? Most of the time internal pressures rooted in avoiding failure or judgment are the main culprits, though the relationships you had with influential people when you were younger shouldn’t be ignored either. The good news? Anything learned can be altered and changed.
It’s important to think about how perfectionism lives in your life. Do you have unrelenting standards toward yourself? Maybe you don’t let others off the hook after a mistake or expect greatness with everything they say or do.
Next, think about what you’re trying to achieve and break it down into parts that make sense to you. For example, maybe your long-term goal is to play in a Wisconsin State Am Championship and you know that to be eligible your Handicap Index needs to be lower. Dissect your game and find what’s going well, what could be better, and develop strategic ways to improve deficits. Make targets challenging, but attainable. The old adage of “under commit and over deliver” works just as well in golf as it does in business. The approach has less to do with tricking yourself into a false sense of accomplishment and more to do with keeping the fire burning.
Remember that you’re human, and it’s in your very nature to make mistakes. While it’s natural to see mistakes as setbacks, it’s also true that the chance for improvement is on the other side of that mistake. That thing that didn’t go just right? It’s cold hard data that can be used to get better. That data isn’t speculative, or something that’s true in theory, but rather it’s the outcome of what you did or didn’t do. In other words, it’s invaluable knowledge that you didn’t have before. Use that knowledge before it starts to turn you against yourself.