A few years ago I had a rough day of teaching. What do I mean by rough? It’s when students debate the instruction. I call it resistance. It happens when you push someone to the edge of their comfort zone. Trying to break through the comfort barrier students often push back. It’s natural to have fear – but it’s only the Yin. If you want to start making progress, you must find the Yang.
There are many reasons that students might resist. Fear of making swing changes or getting worse, distrust in the information or the instruction or possibly that the teaching contradicts past beliefs about the golf swing.
Sometimes I have to ask a student’s permission when I start. “Is it alright if I change your grip, it’s going to feel awkward?” or “Can I move your feet wider?”. This is my way of asking permission to push them past their comfort and challenge their rigid belief systems. I just want the student to say “OKAY” no matter what I ask them to do.
In my experience, rigidity is the extinguisher of progress the result of belief systems. It comes in various forms. It might be “I’m too old” or “That’s not what my last instructor said” or “I’ve been practicing all wrong”. If you look at resistance, there is something deeply rooted in the belief systems that fuel it.
If you want to make real progress than you must look deeply at your own belief systems. There is a very simple way to do it.
First, identify your barrier the Yin.
Using your golf swing as an example, let’s say you are challenged by the lower body movement. You have tried everything and simply “Can’t figure it out”. You identified a personal barrier.
Most people would just say, “That’s it, I guess I will accept that I have a problem and I can’t fix it”. Acceptance is another problem with progress. Once you accept your circumstances, you stop trying. The good news is that you have identified your barrier – now you simply have to change the question you are asking yourself about it.
Second, ask yourself questions of empowerment.
Now that you have identified the barrier that is holding your back, ask yourself “How would I feel if I broke this barrier?” “How would it feel if I fixed my lower body movement?”. “What would it feel like if I had a Perfect lower body movement?”.
When you start asking empowering questions, you realize that your mind begins to focus past your barrier. It creates hope as it searches for a newer possibility. Then something incredible happens.
Third, your mind answers the question – the Yang.
The mind is timeless. It is a tool. You can either have it work for your or against you. When you ask empowering questions, it will answer. The answers take you past your limitations and you start to feel in control of your future. What once seemed hopeless now has a future full of potential because you asked yourself empowering questions.
That is what coaches do. We don’t accept mediocrity. One thing I have learned about myself as a coach, I’m not a cheerleader. I don’t celebrate everything a student does. My job as a coach and teacher is to see how far I can push to get results. My job is to help students ask better questions and seek answers for themselves. I break barriers.
My suggestion to all students is to first identify their belief systems. One way to do this is to start by asking “Are you sure about that?” and “Why?” For example, if you think that you are never going to be a good golfer ask yourself “Are you sure about that?”. Your mind might say “Yes, I’m sure”. Then you ask “Why?”.
Your mind might say “Because you have been a terrible golfer for years, you’ve read ten books and nothing has helped”.
You just identified a belief system.
Now ask yourself empowering questions and get past the negativity: “How would it feel to be a great golfer?”. “What do I need to learn to do that?”. “How can you have a great time and learn how to be a great golfer”.
To be a great student, you must be open to looking at your beliefs. There will be challenges. Are your beliefs holding you back? Learning to overcome these challenges will surely help you reach your goals. While before you were focusing on the problem, by asking new empowering questions, you can find the solutions.
The Yin and Yang, the negative and the positive, will give you balance and create a healthy environment for progress and change.
Just say “OKAY” and get started.
Okay Todd!!! I’m in!
Great post. I completely agree. I really enjoyed your statement “rigidity is the extinguisher of progress”. This is so true in all areas of life, especially golf!
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I sent you a book about research into how and why people make the decisions they do. It describes how people make up stories about the reasons for their actions which have already been made subconsciously and how difficult it is to get people to open their minds to new ideas. Just change the words religion and politics to new methods of hitting a golf ball and the book will describe what you face as a coach.
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Got it. Thank you Barry.
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