By Nicola Albini, J.D., M.A. -This article originally appeared on April 26th 2016 on huffingtonpost.com
They say the game of golf mirrors the game of life. I’d have to agree. In fact, it was picking up a golf club for the first time that completely shifted my life’s direction.
Let me explain.
I did not grow up athletic. More accurately, I grew up convinced I wasn’t athletic, thanks to childhood self-doubt that dates far before I can even remember.
The first time I picked up a golf club I was 19. My instructor told me to prepare for my first shot by only focusing on what “is.”
In life, we call this mindfulness, and it’s something I had never truly given myself permission to experience. Frankly, at 19, I didn’t even know what it was...
I remember making the effort to silence the world around me so I could focus on only what was in front of me. The cool breeze, the warm sun hitting the back of my neck, the ball sitting quietly on the bright green grass, the tightness of my grip around the club, my toes shifting in my shoes as I assumed my position...
All at once, it hit me.
Success, in all things, depends on your ability to be present to what is here and now. If you pay attention to anything that is outside of your direct point of view, you will set yourself up to be less than your potential.
Just like I did when I decided I wasn’t athletic because my fears told me so.
Instead of living a life where I stood tall in my right and ability to define myself, I had let myself be distracted by self-doubt, and I shrunk in fear. This revelation is a huge reason why I advocate living outside of your comfort zone in my coaching and my flagship program, the empowerment shift.
If I wanted to be an athlete, even an amateur one, now was the moment to make that choice.
So, I did.
And as I write this, twenty years later, I’m a multiple time competitor in triathlons, Ironman, and a handful of Half Ironman competitions, too. I’ve also won several amateur golf tournaments including an Italian Championship for 2nd division city clubs.
Turns out I’m very athletic...
Regardless of what field you’re in, what dreams you have, and what life you’re living — we all have the power to focus on what’s directly in front of us. Fear is something we can never completely silence. We will come face to face with it daily. But as I also learned from golf, you must take 100 percent responsibility for your life.
It is up to YOU to define your reality. To move forward despite your inner critic. And to actualize your full potential.
After I made the decision to pursue a hobby that had always scared me, I experienced a huge life shift. I went on to be a success coach for clients that include professional athletes. My time with them has reminded me so much of the life lessons I’ve taken off the green with me.
Here are 15 golf lessons that just might change your life:
- Luck doesn’t exist. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Prepare yourself to be the best, and then the opportunity will arise. It doesn’t work the other way around.
- SLOW DOWN. Rediscover your joy. When you feel a deep sense of relaxation throughout your whole body, you’re reminded of why you love what you’re doing, an unlimited abundance of great shots lie ahead.
- You control what you think. Don’t get stuck in your head. In the event of a bad shot, you can say things like: “Interesting... It’s unlike me to shoot that way.” By not reacting to any “failure,” you’ll keep your center in check and avoid sabotaging the shots you have ahead.
- Let go. There is always another shot waiting for you. Your score is directly related to your ability to forget past bad shots and let them go.
- Talent is a myth. Be consistent. Being consistent with your actions is how you maintain the endurance and the strength to carry yourself where you’re going. Consistency will always reap benefits. Sure, talent can help. But it is not enough. Practice makes you a master. At everything.
- Practice self-love. Become interested in what nurtures and nourishes you and those around you. When your pre-game routine comes from this place it will lead you into a fabulous round of golf, life, anything...
- Reflect often. Acknowledge your successes and where you can still grow daily.
- Breathe. When you breathe freely and relax, you’re able to express your natural gifts and abilities. Breathe. Enjoy the moment.
- Remember the positive “Cs:” clarity, commitment, confidence. Be clear about your next shot; visualize the target and the shot you want to execute. Be committed to that shot; gather all your energy and direct it to create what you’ve visualized. Be confident about your shot; trust your swing and the power of what you’ve set yourself up for.
- Release the negative “Cs:” compare, complain, criticize. These three Cs are the poison of your spirit. They drain your energy, and are a sure pathway to failure. When you discipline yourself to stop, you’ll be well on your way toward success on and off the green.
- Take 100 percent responsibility. You are not a victim of the course, of the wind, or of the rules of golf. The more you’re peaceful and centered, the more you will post a low score. Take responsibility for what’s going on in your life and peace will follow.
- You are AMAZING. Always come from a mentality of amazingness. From this state, you won’t be able to buy into a scarcity mentality, which is especially vital when the stakes are high. You are the best possible player you can be at this moment in time.
- Play with your heart. Reside in the strength of your heart in every situation. Send the ball to the hole with the intention and energy of your heart. Love the ball, love the clubs, love it all. Be a heart-warrior, and no obstacle will stop your heart from beating.
- Trust the process. Success is about the process, not the end product. Keep your focus on what you can control, and your score will follow.
- Smile. Golf is just a game, and so is life. Both have moments that feel very serious, but the reality is, everything moves on. This moment — this game — won’t last forever. If you’re not taking every opportunity to enjoy yourself, what’s the point?