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Standards vs Expectations / Flow Golf Podcast Episode #30

I think we’ve hit a milestone. Episode 30 of the Flow Golf Podcast. In today’s episode, I want to talk about expectations and standards. We’re obviously working with some fantastic players, some players that are looking to play in the professional game. 

Some players that are, of course, looking to become golfers and beyond. And it becomes super important to manage expectations and also to set standards.

But for everyone listening, they might even be asking this question right now. Okay, I kind of get that, but I’ll play the same thing. Expectation standards. What’s the difference? So in your eyes, Rick, what’s the difference between expectations and standards?

Sure. And again, expectations as you play better golf, you expect more. I mean, that’s just a natural thing. We have to manage these expectations. So if I finally break 80, okay, there might be now an expectation I’m going to break 80 again. Make sense, right? My skills are getting better and stuff like that. But if I don’t break 80 and I shoot 82, sometimes that’s frustrating.

Oh, I didn’t meet my expectations. Okay. So there’s a fine line here. Expectations are not always in your control. And when I have and I usually never phrase it, what are your expectations? But unfortunately, it comes back that way for my students. And so I may say, you know, what are your standards or what are your goals for an event?

But I always get expectations back. Well, you know what, Rick? I should never three putt and I really should be you know, shoot below 74 and I should. And whenever you use that word should, that’s really a trigger that there’s an expectation that’s going to happen afterwards. So we have to be careful that the expectations like I should never miss a green from 100 yards, I should always get up and down. That sounds kind of empowering.

It sounds in a way positive, like, yeah, I should get up and down all the time, but you’re not. Okay. I hate to break it to everybody out there, but you’re not. So you’re setting yourself up with unrealistic expectations when we do not meet our expectations. That is basically the definition of frustration. Now we’re in a frustration loop and good luck getting out.

So we certainly are going to get led down on a golf course. We’re certainly not going to say, you know, dang it, I didn’t you know, I three putted from 20 feet. It happens. Okay. But when the expectation kicks in, it does. There’s no learning from it. It’s just completely fueling frustration and anger. 

So everybody out there, when you use the word should, that’s usually a trigger that there’s an expectation to follow.

I should never have three putts. I should always break par. I should fill in the blank. And unfortunately not all of that is in your control. So when we look at expectations, that’s one way. What I like to look at are standards. What are you going to hold yourself to that is in your control? A standard could be a behavior.

Rick I’m going to play this round of golf with a full pre shot routine and my standard I’m going to hold to myself is I’m not going to hit the shot unless this visualization is at an eight, nine or ten in clarity. Whew. That is a cool statement. That is a very clear standard and clear intention. Is that under their control?

You bet. The ball is not moving and they have the discipline and the self-awareness to go, Oh, I told Coach Rick, I’m not hitting the shot until I can see the shot. An eight, nine or ten with clarity. I just did it. Awesome. Good. I met my standard. That’s what we’re talking about. What are the behaviors? What are the things that are in your control that we can measure?

Did it happen or not? And that would lead us. These standards, again, are to lead us to better performance, everybody. Okay. But have clarity on what those standards you’re going to hold for yourself. We’ve talked about this in a podcast about identity. Who’s the type of player you’re going to be? Well, the standards are a part of that.

So I could go on a long dissertation on this, Alan But it’s very important for us to identify standards that are in our control that will lead to better performance. Everybody yet we get wrapped into expectations because yes, we get better and better, but unfortunately, those expectations could cause interference down the road.

Actually, no, I love that. I was going to say the expectations are usually outcome based, whereas standards are usually behavior based. And I think that’s so much more powerful. And that kind of differentiates between controllable versus uncontrollable. 

So super powerful that you mentioned that, Rick, identifying all standards. How can people how can listeners identify their standards? How should they even go about doing that?

You mentioned one that could be, well, I’m going to hold myself to the standard of executing on this pre routine and not executing on it until eight, nine, ten in the visualization, clarity, but there’s so many standards that I could hold myself to, so many standards, especially in today’s world, where we have access to so much information through YouTube, podcasts, all sorts.

How to identify what standards to hold myself to versus looking at what other people are holding them.

Right. Well, let’s keep this episode below 3 hours then. Okay. Is that. You’re right. There’s a lot of things that we could hold our standards to. You and I usually talk about behaviors and certain things like that. It could be. And this is a behavior like I’m going to hold myself to a standard that I’m going to get 8 hours of sleep per night.

That’s a standard that I’m going to set. Why do I want that? Because I want to be fresh and have plenty of energy the next day. Be able to think clearly. Be able. That’s a standard I’m setting forth that, yeah, it’ll help my golf game, but it’ll help my life. Right. So I think it’s back to goals, though, what is your goal?

And then you and I always try to do reverse engineering. What’s going to help us get that goal? Some of it’s technical. Hey, I want to hit that. I want to lower my handicap by two by two. And one way to do that is increase clubhead speed by 50 miles an hour. I’m going to do that through the gym.

Awesome. But going to the gym now becomes the standard. It becomes, I need to do this to equal that. So reverse engineering a goal I think is fantastic. Way to start to identify what are the behaviors and standards that need to show up every day, everybody to lead. You do that. Okay? This is not about quick fixes. It’s not about those type of things.

So I would start there. Halim is let’s get clear on what the goal is. And then also the other question I have for people is when was there a time that you played great golf? And they think back, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, this one round. I mean, I was hot and everything was good. I go, Okay, what are the things that were in your control that day that you think helped you do that?

Now they may say, Oh, my swing was good. I got fine, great. Swing was great. What do you think led to that? Well, I was in Tampa. Okay. What do you think led to that? You know what? Now that I think about it, I got to the golf course and spent plenty of time stretching. I wasn’t rushed.

I had a good attitude. I couldn’t wait to play. I’ve got oh, maybe some of those things could be the recipe for success.

And then we can kind of double down on those. Hey, I do need to do my stretching before it goes off. I do need to remind myself of the mindset I want to bring to the first tee. That’s how I would start to identify standards through goals and also through past success.

Love it. I love it because I think that it’s so easy. And I mentioned all the different information that we have available to us now, but it’s so easy to go.

Tiger Woods looks like he gets up at 5:00 in the morning. That’s the standard I’m going to set for myself. I love how you made sure that it’s very personal to each individual and understanding what goals do you want to achieve?

I mean, do you really want to achieve the same goals as Tiger Woods? It’s a lot of sacrifices that come with that.

And also, are we all really capable? The answer is definitely no. So what goals do you have? Because yours are very different from Tiger Woods. Now start to understand what standards you need to hold yourself to in order to achieve those goals. 

But also, you mentioned the other side, Rick, and I love that. And it’s something that I’m so passionate about.

But your own personal experiences and you mentioned kind of the good experiences, the positive experiences where although there are no positive or negative, just an experience that we can learn from. But there may be more beneficial experiences and how that can help us set standards, because we can reflect back and say, What was I holding myself to during that?

Because that got the outcome that I was looking for. I’m going to repeat those same things, but also we can look at the maybe less beneficial experience because we can start to actually understand what standards we didn’t hold ourselves to and then identify the ones we do and an exercise. 

And I think I’ve talked about this before, but an exercise I do with a lot of my clients is we go through kind of experiences, significant experiences, both on the so-called positive and the negative side.

And we look at every single one over the last two years or so. We make a long, long list. It’s a great reflection process. Fantastic. Then we ask for each experience. What lessons did you learn from those experiences? 

Because every single one, whether positive or negative, we create lessons we learned lessons. And then from those lessons we actually create these standards, or I call them principles.

So I’m kind of going to interchanged the two words or different I call them principles that I can ultimately then make decisions with and live my life going forward, but he essentially says that we constantly face another one of those, another one of those, another one of those, and we ultimately go through these cycles.

So if we faced a certain situation in the past, the chances are we’re going to face a very similar situation in the future. So if we look back at these experiences, if we learn from those experiences and then we create principles from those lessons that can then help us make a better decision the next time we face that experience.

And you can, again, call these principles or standards that you use those standards to then help you make better decisions going forward.

That’s correct. Yeah. Sorry to cut you off, but I think they’re there. The principles and standards are very, very similar. And I think principles can now feed to a standard like a standard of I am going to play golf today with a gratitude mindset and I’m going to remind myself of why I’m out here. But the principle behind it could be even more specific, right?

And I can do my gratitude journal in the morning. I can do it. So I think they definitely work together. And, you know, you and I are helping people understand they get to create those. We can give them ideas and stuff, but they will figure out some that trigger a positive experience or a positive golf shot. All those types of things that we know.

People are looking for, but people are not understanding, again, what led to the result as much. They either say, I got lucky or my swing was in a groove. Fine. But there’s got to be things below that. 

You and I have talked about layering. You and I talked in one of our past podcasts about a performance. Those are things like a standard now. I am going to be very aware in my performance loop where my attention is.

That is my standard. I am not going to hit a golf shot until I’ve asked those proper questions. Now, those again, those build up, that becomes your habit, that becomes your subconscious. You’re going to get better results. You are.

Absolutely. I love that. And the second part then of having standards and living in alignment with principles or standards is, yes, you’re going to become more successful because you’re going to make better decisions that move you towards the goal that we spoke about that we mapped out. 

I also truly believe that you’ll be more fulfilled as well, because when you start to live in alignment with the things you believe in and that you believe are important, that makes you more fulfilled.

If I’m living in alignment with what Tiger Woods believes is more important, that doesn’t really make me more fulfilled. I’m living a life that isn’t really mine. I’m living and making decisions that I’m really in alignment with what I believe in. 

So I think that’s super powerful. And the second part of that, when you’ve made that decision, when you’ve created the standards, you’re much more likely to sustain them over the long term.

If you’ve just taken it off of a YouTube video or if you’ve just taken it off of something simple and gone, I probably should do that because I saw so-and-so do it. I’m going to try and make that my standard. Not a real story. There’s no real meaning behind it. And that’s the importance of going through this process of setting your goal, really understanding why you want to achieve that goal.

Going back through your past experiences, understanding what lessons you learned, creating the standards that are connected to what you’ve experienced and what you want to achieve. And then there’s a story behind it. There’s a meaning behind it, and you’re so much more likely to sustain over the long term. So I think that’s super important when we talk about standards.

And I think that when you and I talk a lot about self-awareness, you can always look back at your standards. Are they serving you or not? Are they getting you closer to your goal? I think that’s a constant back to performance loop. That’s a constant post shot post round post month routine. I’m going to say, hey, am I getting closer to my goals or not?

I think that’s a realistic, very powerful goal. Am I getting close or not? And are any of my standards have I met? Oh, I have, but I’m still not in my goal. Maybe I have to shift something. May have to. That’s fine. But I think people don’t even start with understanding the standards and behaviors that they have to hold themselves to.

And that was a key thing. Holding themselves to a standard is not doing it. When you feel like doing it, it is okay. And that’s a whole other podcast for us to talk about. But I think in this one I want everybody to understand that expectations are usually out of your control. They usually set us up for frustration because we’re not going to meet them yet.

Standards, I think, help our motivation. I think it helps us have alignment with our goals and those are the things that are in your control. 

And when you do it more and more and more, this is another definition of confidence when you do the tough things over and over again, you now believe in your own self, like, Hey, I’m the type of person that can do that, and I’m the type of person that can get to the golf course early and do my stretching.

That is so powerful for not only golf, but for life.

Absolutely. No, I love that. And that’s something, again, I speak a lot about with my clients is there is a process here. First of all, we need to very consciously stick to these standards. We need to ensure that we are very aware that we’re executing on the standards. 

But over time, the ideal goal is that we are ultimately embedded into our subconscious and we just start acting as though we are all that kind of person that lives in alignment with those standards, we don’t really need to then be conscious of them or thinking about them for the long, long term.

But you mentioned there as well, those might change experiences. We have different experiences, so don’t just set your standards and leave them forever the same way we don’t set goals and leave them the same forever. 

Constantly be going back, assessing the experiences you’ve had. Understanding. Do I still want to even head in that direction and then do the standards that I’m holding myself to match that path that I’m heading on?

So super important.

Awesome. So everybody out there, we want great results. We want to strive towards those goals, but be very careful of setting yourself up for frustration because you’re only trying to meet expectations. It’s time now to create some standards, live those standards and get and move closer to those goals.

Flow golf podcast / Golf mental game psychology / Golf’s mental preparation
Flow golf podcast / Golf mental game psychology / Golf's mental preparation
Flow golf podcast / Golf mental game psychology / Golf’s mental preparation
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