By Roger Knick, The Golf Performance Center

What does it mean to have growth mindset…

Understanding why we make certain decisions is important to our growth potential as a golfer but more importantly who we are.  Depending on your mindset which is developed early on in our lives, you can limit your success in learning.  Research by Brene Brown author of (Daring Greatly, Dare to Lead) regarding shame and vulnerability is enlightening when it comes to how people reach their success levels, or not.  She has uncovered much about the human psyche, how people perceive themselves and how scary it is to perform in front of others without feeling judged, afraid, exposed or unworthy of success.

As someone who plays golf, if you want to improve and reach your highest potential regardless of where you are in your development timeline, from novice to expert,  it is important to know, you will fail!  Your weaknesses will be exposed, your strengths will be exposed, your tolerance for frustration will be exposed.  However, the sooner you can embrace the good, bad and the ugly to improve you will improve faster while building resiliency against tough situations, like learning.   Learning requires effort, it requires time, it requires you to be vulnerable, to not be ashamed of failures or successes.  When you can overcome self-judgment, it opens you up to more success.  As a coach to many competitive golfers we have a front row seat to see how vulnerability influences competitive golfers, especially aspiring junior golfers wanting to play collegiate or professional golf.  We see juniors fearing disappointment, shame, judgment, or embarrassment when competing in tournaments.  We see this as a gap, something I like to call the gap of “skill challenge ratio”, when golfers overestimate skills due, being a good range or practice player and underestimating the real challenges of golf.  Much of this is the lack of emotional development in adolescence, as many assume their skills are good enough to compete at the highest levels however when attempting to transfer those skills into competition the challenge can be greater than they expected therefore resulting in poor decisions, bad shots and bad scores.  This creates a reaction of disappointment or embarrassment therefore when golfer’s prepare to compete they make decisions such as, “I don’t need to practice putting or hitting drivers I do those well, I just need to work on my swing” or “it’s not that important, I’m ready”  or “why do I need a yardage book, I shot 73 in my practice round, I know how to play the course” or “I shot 93 because I didn’t care about this round” or “I am not going to play college golf anyway”  or “ I am not good enough”.  These “reasons”, excuses are not from lack of talent but a lack of understanding what learning or growth mindset is about.  These excuses are limiting factors created by fear, being exposed, fear of being vulnerable and not wanting to be embarrassed.

Too often for junior golfers, a growth mindset gets stymied by parents or teachers who believe they are helping by being tough, pointing out mistakes or removing obstacles in the way of growing from experiences. In most cases it is a lack of understanding how to learn, to own mistakes, to accept who you are and where you are, embracing the good, bad and ugly so that we can be better from it.

In conclusion, if you really want to take your game to unimaginable heights, ask yourself these simple questions.  Why am I doing this?  What am I afraid of?   If you can honestly answer these questions and embrace the answers by being vulnerable, willing to fail, by having an open mind to learn with passion to be better, you will be embracing a growth mindset, you will soon discover how to reach your highest potential!

Enjoy Your Journey!