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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Gary Player on Facing -- and Beating -- Our Fears

Don't Choke book coverIn his book Don't Choke, Gary Player has a lot to say about overcoming failure. This short section from a chapter called Play Your Own Game has an interesting perspective on how to win when you're afraid of what you're facing.
Fear is crippling. The fear of being overshadowed by someone else's achievements is a tremendous obstacle in business. That's when you need to shift the focus away from the other person and back to your own plan. No matter what others are doing, stick to your own plan.

Golf teaches you this like no other sport. Over the four rounds of a Major championship, you cannot play just one man because there are so many factors that go into overall success. You have to deal with the playing conditions, the golf course, and a whole field of competitors. If you teed off the first hole in a Major focused on just beating one man, you would surely lose sight of all the other elements that can prove to be your undoing. Similarly, you cannot control what the rest of the field does. You can control only your own game.

You can't stop somebody from shooting a 64, but you can stop yourself from producing your best performance on the day by being so fixated with somebody else's game. To stick to your plan, you need to have confidence in that plan. Then you need to have the patience to see that plan through. Your chance will come, and when it does you'll be ready to take it. So stick to your plan. [pp128-9]
This is a foreign idea to many of us, this idea that having a plan and following it is a way to beat fear. Yet that's exactly how Gary says he often faced challenges successfully in his own career -- not only in golf but in business and life as well.

Having a plan of attack gives you a fighting chance to not only beat the problems you know about, but also the unexpected problems that come your way. Plans help you anticipate some problems while giving you a sound foundation for adapting to changing conditions.

It's early in the new year -- in a new decade, for that matter! -- so this is a great time to start thinking about how we're going to face the challenges ahead of us. It doesn't matter whether we're trying to knock shots off our score, achieve some new goals at work or just make our personal lives better.

Your plan doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be sound. Make the best plan you can, then be prepared to follow it. You might be surprised how much easier it is to succeed when you have some idea what that success will look like! That's what Gary says and if anybody knows what success against the odds looks like, it's Gary Player.

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