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Friday, January 26, 2018

Gary Player on Dealing with "First Time" Pressure

Today I have a short quote from Gary Player's book Don't Choke. All of us have problems dealing with pressure, and this particular quote addresses the problems that come when you're in a position to do something for the first time.

Gary Player

It's from the first chapter, where he talks about his first major victory in the 1959 Open at Muirfield. He was way back from the lead and finished early. He thought he needed a four on the final hole to win but took a six. It devastated him; he thought he'd lost so he went back to his hotel, only to get a phone call from the course when the rest of the field finished to tell him he had in fact won. The weather was so bad that his overall score was too low for the field to match.
Breaking through for the first time brings with it a whole different set of pressures. I understood the pressure of Major championship golf. A year before Muirfield, I had finished second in the US Open, and I'd had top-ten finishes in the Open in 1958 and the Masters in 1959. But this was new in terms of dealing with the pressure of trying to become a Major championship winner for the first time in my career.

It's a case of dealing with the nerves of realizing a dream for the first time. That can be a major obstacle when you want something so badly and have worked all your life to be at that point. The secret is to focus not on the pressure of the situation but rather on the blessing of being in a position to go for your dream. And often, at the moment when it looks as if that dream has fallen to pieces right in front of your eyes, that' s when the phone call comes. [p21]
I know that sounds terribly simple. It is, and it's very hard to do. But the point is that many of the most important things we need to learn are also the simplest things. Often our struggles come because we believe that we need to do something complicated in order to succeed... when we really just need to adjust our perspective on things to regain our mental and emotional balance.

Focus on the opportunity rather than the challenge. It's a simple concept that breeds gratitude... and we should never underestimate the power of gratitude.

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