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Taking on challenges | Flow Golf Podcast TV | Best Golf Mental Game Tips

Flow Golf Podcast TV Episode #13 – Take on challenges

Learn about golf mental game training with FlowCode Golf Academy.

Rick. Back again for another episode of the Flow Golf Podcast and golf mental game. I’m so excited this time to be talking about challenges and how we take on challenges in our life. So I truly believe that challenges are just a part of life. As we move through life, we’re going to face challenges on a regular basis, and it really comes down to our ability to overcome those challenges.

So could you share, Rick, for the listeners some of the times you’ve had to face some big challenges and maybe some of the strategies you’ve utilized to overcome those challenges, either on the golf course or as well off them? Sure. And I’m to talk about a couple experiences where I already knew the challenge was going to be in front of me.

I think a lot of us are on a golf course because, you know, we hit shots in different spots. We don’t know when the challenge is going to arise. And so I want the listeners to look at that challenge can be something that just creeps up right in front of you or it can be something that, you know, is happening a week in advance, two weeks in front of you.

Yet I think that the skills are very similar in how we develop and use them. So I’m going to tell a few stories. The first two are non golf and then I’ll get into some golf. And so this happened almost 20 years ago. I was and still am a big Tony Robbins fan who’s a motivational speaker who I’ve looked upon as somebody who had great information and great communication skills.

And I went to one of his live events and this how this event happened to be the walk across the hot coals one the unlimited power unleash the Power Within I believe was called. 

And so you knew the first night you were going to be doing this and there was a buildup and you know, Tony is very much into state management, something that you and I definitely coach with flow code is there’s an anticipation like, oh, my gosh, in 2 hours I’m going to be walking barefooted across hot coals that are burning.

Oh, my gosh. Right. And there’s a buildup of we’ll call it anticipation. Now, that could be anxiety. It could be exciting. Right. So we’ve talked certainly about perception being reality. And I think what I learned a lot from that experience was you want to focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want. 

So as I was getting ready and we did some training, 2 hours of training in this big auditorium, and then we went out there and I’m in this line and they get closer and closer.

And 5 seconds before I’m going to walk across, I’m looking down at the coals And Tony was actually the guy with me on my thing. And he said, no, no, no, no, no, look where you’re going to go. And this was 15 feet. 

He goes, That’s where you’re going. Go there. And by focusing on where I wanted to go instead of, Oh, I don’t want to burn my feet, it did shift my state to focus on what I wanted.

Now, I still had to go through the challenge. But this one, even though people may think that’s a physical challenge, oh, my feet are going to get burned. It was 100% mental game mental challenge focusing on what I wanted to do and going for it was very and it was a metaphor for fear also obviously is to take that fear on and and go through it.

Yet there was preparation, there was visualization, there was breathing. But at the moment, it was clarity on what I wanted instead of allowing the interference of what I don’t want to get in the way. 

So the other little story I want to tell is something that I knew a year in advance and part of a coaching course that I took. One of the things that we had to do to get certified was do a Spartan obstacle race.

Now, for those that don’t know that, I mean, Spartan is probably the leader in these obstacle races. This one happened to be, I think, four miles long, and it’s through up and down terrain. And then throughout it, you have jumped over walls. 

You have kettlebell stuff that you have burpees, you have all kinds of stuff. Is that it’s a you could say it’s very physically demanding, which it was.

Now, here’s where preparation is very important. I already knew what I signed up for. Yet there is still anticipation of what might happen and how my body is going to hold up. And I thought, oh, I’m in good shape, but I was in good shape from bench pressing. I was in good shape doing four miles of walking up and down terrain.

So I had to know what my weaknesses were and I had to know how to train those. And because I’d never had done it before, I was, you know, gathering information online. I was asking people because it was about prepping. And during the actual event, it rained which made it muddy, which made it more challenging. And I will honestly say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

And with about half a mile left, I cramped up. And I’m there. There were many thoughts, okay, I checked out I’m quit and you know, what’s interesting is that I had a partner in this. It was part of a buddy system. And he reminded me like, wait, just one more step, one more step, one more step.

And so all I did was just one more step, one more step. Instead of thinking about, oh, my gosh, I still have a half mile left or oh, my gosh, it’s raining or oh, my gosh, my, my calf muscles are cramping. And a lot of why I finished that was because of my partner there. And it taught me a lot about self-talk.

It taught me a lot about one moment at a time instead of being overwhelmed with what’s in front of me and then looking back at it, the importance of preparation, the importance of knowing what you’re getting into, and training your weaknesses. 

I don’t think I trained my weaknesses enough, to be honest with you. So that’s something, a challenge that was in the future, which was challenging both mentally, emotionally and physically.

Yet in the moment I had to remind myself what is in my control, this next step, this next self-talk, this next breath, right? That helped me be able to move on from there. 

I think in golf, you know, sometimes we build up challenges a lot greater than they really are, and I don’t I think sometimes people forget about what’s in their control for the next 30 seconds of a pre shot routine and they get overwhelmed with possibilities instead of going, Wait a second, let’s look at the facts.

Let’s look at what I have, let’s look at my skills as we go there. So challenges could be everything from being on the first tee and your first guest and there’s 50 people around having fun looking at you or it could be your first tournament where there’s a television camera in front of you; those are just perceived challenges that really have nothing to do with your actual golf shot.

It could be a double bogey the first of all that’s a challenge, but it’s something we can bounce back off. So I think it’s you know, I love to hear your perspective on challenge, but a lot of these golfers you have to be clear on how you’re defining a challenge in the first place. 

And I think some people overwhelm themselves with things instead of saying that’s just happened, let’s move on, type of thing.

So those are my couple little stories there. No, absolutely. And I love what you’ve said there and I love the stories that you shared. 

And I think when it comes to facing the challenges more often than not, it is less about trying to manage the situation and it’s more about trying to manage this, trying to manage your mind and your perception of the situation, because ultimately that’s what challenge and our belief in our ability to overcome it comes down to do we believe the opposite skills match the perceived challenge that is in front of us?

And actually, the reason I mentioned the challenge is a part of life and we shouldn’t hide away from it is actually because challenge is one of the triggers that moves us into the flow side that we talk about a flow per golf academy. 

So by no means should we run away from challenges and avoid it. We actually need to embrace challenges, but we need to ensure, as you’ve mentioned, as I just said, the opposite skill set matches the perceived skill, but the perceived challenge, sorry.

So as we can move into what we call that flow zone, because if the challenge is too low and our skill set is too high, we fall into this kind of boredom state if the challenge is too high and our skills too low, we fall into that more anxious state, which is where a lot of people unfortunately spend their time.

So it really does come down to your perception of the situation and that helps you understand whether you can overcome the challenge. Right. And I say I frame it this way a lot with all my one on one clients and again, you and I get to work with a lot of very, very good players. And let’s say it’s a college player and I say, do you have the skill to hit a driver 300 yards to a 40 yard grid?

And they’ll say, Well, of course, Rick, I’m a, I’m a plus four handicap. Of course I go, Great. So you’re on the 18th hole tied for the lead in it and in a college event it’s a 480 yard par four straight away, 40 yard fairway outside of that are fairway bunkers. Outside of that is all right, water left.

Do you trust you can do it? At that moment I get a lot of well and I go. It’s the same exact skill that’s required, but our perception of the other external things now causes us to maybe go, oh, I’m not sure if I have the skill right now. That’s to me not taking on the challenge of saying, Wait, I know how to do this.

This is a 300 yard shot to 40 yard grid. I know how to do that. And so that’s why I believe that confidence is and confidence and trust are similar, but we need to create trust, which is, I got it. I can take this challenge on because I do have the skill, okay? 

And I think people lose sight of that because they allow the external things to get in the way or Jack up the challenge when it really is just what it is.

Like you say it’s this is what’s the facts in front of me to take on. Definitely. And I don’t, I don’t know if a lot of listeners and whether you’re Self Rickey you’ve actually heard of it, but the Roger Bannister effect. Yes, basically the four minute mile barrier had never been broken. Roger Bannister comes along and I can’t remember the year.

I definitely wasn’t born. Roger Bannister comes along and he breaks the four minute mile barrier. Now, I believe that tens of thousands of high school kids have gone on to break that barrier to this day. And actually, I think within that same year, it was broken again. The only thing that had changed in that moment was belief, the belief that it was possible.

And I think that’s so important when it comes to trying to face and overcome challenges is the belief you have that you are capable, as we say, of overcoming that challenge. And I remember learning a really simple cycle that helps us understand the importance of belief that helps us then increase our potential and our action and our results.

And essentially what it means is the more we believe in ourselves, the more we believe in our potential to overcome a certain challenge, the more we believe in our potential to overcome that challenge, the more action that we take. So therefore we get better results. We overcame the challenge. Those results reinforce our belief and the loop or the cycle starts again.

The concern is that that cycle, although it can work for us, it also can work against us. So if we have low self-belief we don’t believe that we can overcome this challenge. 

We don’t think we have the potential to overcome it. We don’t take very much action because we don’t really believe that it’s possible. So then we can get full results and we use that as a self-fulfilling cycle.

Again, to say, I knew it wouldn’t work, I knew I wasn’t capable of overcoming that challenge. So then move away from the challenge. 

So I really, really reinforced to all of the listeners, please go to work on building that self-belief, because we know that has a huge impact on your ability to to overcome the challenge and that and that’s a great point I mean, even though this this episode started off as a challenge, we are emphasizing confidence, trust and self-belief.

And the other side of the coin, though, that I want to emphasize is that challenge means there’s a chance you’re going to fail. And you and I will have talked. We’ll continue to talk about that. Whether we call failure feedback or whatever it is. Good. Okay. 

So now we know what we should push our limits and then how we are going to get better.

So self-belief is taking on the challenge does not guarantee you’re going to succeed at the challenge. And I think people don’t push themselves because there is a part that says, well, it’s a challenge, so I may fail. I don’t like failing because that makes me feel bad. And now we never push ourselves so I think confidence and self-belief is one element.

The other part which I’m working with really, really good players, is they actually want to push their limits and they want to find out where they’re at so then they can get better. Oh, oh, I just played in 40 mile an hour wind. I better learn how to hit some knock down shots better or and not look at as like, oh, I’m not good at.

This is like, okay, this is a blind spot. I’m going to work on it now. So I want everybody to look at, yes, there’s confidence, but it’s okay if you screw up with the challenge, it really is okay because then it’s not as challenging the next time as it because you now are more prepared that’s why I say if I do another obstacle race, I am definitely going to be doing more cardio.

Okay. And, and knowing like, whoa, that was not so fun. And yet if I prepared a different way, I would feel more ready and I would feel more confident because I’ve already had some feedback that said you weren’t as ready as you thought and be okay and be okay with that, but then take responsibility for that. So take on the challenge.

Maybe you’re going to screw up fine. Okay. But as you mentioned that self-belief goes into it, I think it gives us a chance to go for it, which is the thing let’s, let’s take that first step to go for it and then be okay if it doesn’t work out 100%. Now, I’m a, I’m a bit of an analytical guy and I actually was a bit of a mascot at school.

So I try to view and I definitely explain this to my clients from view failure or anything like that. It’s just another data point. It’s just more information for you together to then create a better version of yourself going forward. 

And more often than not, actually, it’s the failure that brings more data, more information to create a better version the necessarily the success fails.

So if we’re looking at this from a long term perspective, which I know you’re also big on and myself as well, and it’s actually almost the failure that we get excited by it because we know there’s more data points, more information for us to develop ourselves. And so I think it’s really powerful for people to understand. 

And just to add to this in terms of challenges of how doing hard things gives us self-worth, it makes us feel good about ourselves.

So we often are faced with options in life, whether we take the easy option or the hard option. And I would kind of challenge the hard option almost every single time. Now, when we do those hard things, instead of choosing that easy path, it increases our self-esteem. 

It makes us feel good about ourselves. I go to the gym, I do a class at the school blaze that’s based there, one of the kind of well-known things in well-known gyms in England.

And I mean, I’m on the floor. I’m in a bad way at the end of it. I’m not. I’m not feeling maybe physically fantastic at the end of it, but I finish it and, you know, it boosts your self-esteem. You say, you know what, it wasn’t easy, but I pushed myself to a place that I would never have gotten to if I was sitting on the sofa at home.

And I feel good about myself. I’ve challenged myself now. I may not always succeed. I may not always do what they want me to do, the person training wants me to do necessarily. Okay, well, how can I improve next time? I feel good that I’ve at least challenged myself. 

So I think I don’t know. I love that. And I think with everybody, all the listeners out there, can you choose to do one thing challenging a day?

And does that to be golf, by the way? It could be to volunteer to give a 15 minute speech at one of your organizations you’re part of now. Speaking in front of people is challenging. It can be vulnerable. It can be right. 

If we’re looking at expanding people’s comfort zones and pushing them to that challenge, skills balance where they are challenged but they now know they have the skills to match and it’s going to push them and push them and push them.

Some of the research that I’ve read is that if we can push somebody one to 4% outside of their current, we’ll call it your comfort zone, there’s a chance you can do it, right? It’s only 1% outside of you. It’s going to push you and it’s going to require you to be fully focused, required to use all your skills.

It can keep escalating that. So think of things that are uncomfortable and it could be at the gym, right? I’m going to add two more pounds to a bench press. I’m going to add, you know, I’m going to do a spin class instead of weightlifting. 

That makes me feel uncomfortable. You bring up a very good point when you look back and go, wow, in the moment, that didn’t feel good.

But man, I’m proud of myself for taking that on is a very big boost to when you do have challenges, you go, Wait, I’m the type of person that takes on challenges. I’m the type of person that can get through this. 

You and I have talked about identity statements before, and I think that’s a crucial, a very crucial way of being able to move through those challenges.

Definitely. And I know we’re going to speak about this more in light, Repsol, but the human versus the athlete, I think it’s so important to understand here that you actually need to make sure you’re overcoming and facing challenges as a human, as an individual outside of golf. 

So as then as you’re saying, when you face those challenges, on the golf course, let’s say you’re coming down the final hole with the one shot lead or you’re coming down the final hole, one shot back, you’ve got this challenge in front of you.

And actually your belief that you can overcome that challenge is usually going to be dependent on whether you’re facing challenges and putting yourself into uncomfortable situations off the golf course. So actually, like you say, it doesn’t have to always be right. I’m going to make my training at golf very challenging or I’m going to make it. Of course, we want to do that.

But also think about how you can just make your day challenging when you wake up in the morning? Can you turn that tap from hot to cold when you’re in the shower? Not nice. And it definitely is challenging when you get out of your nice warm bed. Maybe not it’s not as warm in the UK here as it is in California.

We’re used to the but no, but things like that. Small little details where you can just switch from the easy option to the hard option and that can be really, really powerful in terms of your own self-esteem and your belief, as we spoke about earlier, that you can overcome the future, right? Yeah. The last thing that I want to add back to golf is are we challenging ourselves enough in training and practice?

You know, we briefly talked about fitness. You can workout harder and that’s part of certainly golf performance but when you’re practicing, are you pushing yourself? You know, and I find golfers getting into very they’re somewhat lazy. They hit a lot of balls. Don’t get me wrong. I see high work ethic timewise, but I’m not sure if there’s an engagement.

I’m not sure if they’re challenging themselves. And I know you and I encourage that there has to be a time, even if it’s the last 15, 20 minutes of your practice that you’re putting yourself out there, whether you’re challenging yourself you’re going to have a little competition with your buddies on the practice screen or something like that. 

But can we create challenging situations in practice?

Can we do the old 104 footers in a row drill? And if you miss number 99, you start back to zero. Doesn’t have to be that extreme, but what’s going to make you a little bit uncomfortable and do it in practice? So then as the old adage goes, if I can create more stress and challenge in practice, then the actual golf game is a lot easier because I’ve challenged myself a lot in my actual practice habits.

Definitely enough. The thing is traditionally golf and I know we’re trying to change that and many other people within the industry are as well. But golf is one of the very few sports where it seems to be that the training or the preparation or the practice is actually easier than the actual competition because you hit a few shots on the range on a perfectly flat mat.

You get used to the conditions and all these kinds of things. You step into the arena, into the performance arena, while there’s all these variables that I don’t know how to deal with. You look at things like basketball, you look at American football, football, soccer, all these different kinds of sports where they push themselves to the max in the training.

So as you say, when they step into the arena, it seems so much more manageable, seems so much more easy. One final step before we wrap up, and I know this has been an incredible episode on Challenge One final thing that I want to mention is basically the importance of that sacrifice, the importance of that suffering, that pain in flow.

We speak about these different phases of flow within our academy with the flow build up phase into the flow game phase, flow peak phase. And a big part of that flow build up phase is suffering, pain, frustration, a lot of things that people try to avoid. They almost won everything to be perfect. They want everything to be smooth and all this kind of stuff.

But going through that process is actually really important. This is a key part of you moving into that peak flow state. Now, the important thing to note is that it’s not a state or a place you want to be forever. You need to go through that pain, through that suffering, through that frustration, and then you need to know when to take a step back and move into the parasympathetic activities, the calming activities, move into the joy, the excitement and all that kind of stuff so you can move into your flow state.

And I just think it’s really important to mention, because we shouldn’t avoid this stuff, we shouldn’t avoid challenges, we shouldn’t avoid suffering, we shouldn’t avoid pain. It’s a big part of you becoming the best version of yourself. Totally agree. Can’t say it better than that. 

And I think, you know, I remember when I was 15 years old, I was learning how to hit a flop shot for the first time.

And that whole I would say it took me about two months before I could hit like two in a row that were really good. There were some skull shots, there were some fat shots, there were just some ugly. And then there were every now and then was then. But it was again, looking at the just challenges, something I was taking on because afterwards I wanted to master that flop shot.

I wanted to be the type of player who could do that. And I think we have to look at the sacrifice and their struggle. At first there’s that build up phase but also look at the end goal. How are you going to be better as a player? How are you going to be better as a person? You have to run through some of these struggle phases as you go there but I totally agree with you.

Definitely love that. Another episode really enjoyed speaking about challenges and how the listeners can face it. Thank you again and look forward to the next. Well, it sounds great, Hallam.

Learn more how to master your golf mental game … visit free master class with Rick Sessinghaus
Learn about golf mental game with FlowCode Golf Academy / Flow Golf Podcast with Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan
Learn about golf mental game with FlowCode Golf Academy / Flow Golf Podcast with Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan
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