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Persevering Through Change

Honestly… as a golf instructor… I stress out at times. I stress because I see some students “get” what I’m trying to communicate to them, which makes them better golfers… while others… well… just don’t.

This is why I obsess on growing as an instructor by working on being a better communicator… studying to know my craft better… and continuously seeking new and better ways to help my students… physically and psychologically. And yet still… some student’s “get it”… and others don’t.

I’ve been reading this great book called Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (Broadway Books) by Chip and Dan Heath. And I started thinking about the difficulty of change in golf. Hmmm.

In the book they speak about Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, the world’s preeminent product design firm. Brown believes that, “…every design process goes through ‘foggy periods.’ One of IDEO’s designers even sketched out a ‘project mood chart’ that predicts how people will feel at different phases of a project. It’s a U-shaped curve with a peak of positive emotion, labeled ‘hope,’ at the beginning and a second peak of positive emotion , labeled ‘confidence,’ at the end. In between the two peaks is a negative emotional valley labeled ‘insight.’

“Brown says that design is ‘rarely a graceful leap from height to height.’ When a team embarks on a new project, team members are filled with hope and optimism. As they start to collect data and observe real people struggling with existing products, they find that new ideas spring forth effortlessly. Then comes the difficult task of integrating all those fresh ideas into a coherent new design. At this ‘insight’ stage, it’s easy to get depressed, because insight doesn’t always strike immediately.

“The project often feels like a failure in the middle. But if the team persists through this valley of angst and doubt, it eventually emerges with a growing sense of momentum… That’s when the team reaches the peak of confidence.”

Seth Godin, in his brilliant book called, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) uses a similar illustration. “At the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun… it’s interesting, and you get plenty of good feedback from the people around you.

“Over the next few days and weeks, the rapid learning you experience keeps you going. Whatever your new thing is, it’s easy to stay engaged in it.

“And then the Dip happens.

“The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. A long slog that’s actually a shortcut, because it gets you where you want to go faster than any other path.

“The Dip is the combination of bureaucracy and busywork you must deal with in order to get certified in scuba diving.

“The Dip is the difference between the easy “beginner” technique and the more useful ‘expert’ approach in skiing or fashion design.

“The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment.”

Later he writes... “The people who set out to make it through the Dip – the people who invest the time and the energy and the effort to power through the Dip - those are the ones who become the best in the world.”

Ahhh… “the best in the world (I like that).” Chip and Dan Heath put it this way, “…because people will persevere only if they perceive falling down as learning rather than as failing.” (I like that: redux!)

Can you see how this might apply to golf? When we’re first introduced to the game… it’s fun… it’s new… it’s exciting! We see big successes early on. We make contact with the ball… the ball goes forward… eventually the ball goes forward up in the air… the ball goes forward up in the air and with an increase in distance… etc….

But then, as we get better and our scores drop from 130 for 9-holes to 118 for 18-holes… the Dip happens… the bottom of the “U” happens. Improvement seems slower. We have to learn more mechanics. We have to practice more. We have to invest in better equipment. We have to make a GRIP CHANGE!! (For some, having a root canal would be easier!)

And that’s when oftentimes… discouragement happens. We’re in the Dip. That grip change is causing the ball to go left. The grip change feels uncomfortable. The grip change has increased the score. It’s easier to go back to what feels comfortable at the expense of getting better. And therein lays the angst of why people don’t... get better that is.

YET!! For those who persevere through the Dip… through the valley… discover that it’s worth it. WAY WORTH IT! The grip change eventually fixes the swing plane… which eventually fixes the club path… which eventually fixes the ball flight… which eventually finds the target… more often.

Yes… as a teacher I stress at times. But during those times when progress seems slow for my students… my responsibility is to encourage, motivate, and remind them that at the other side of the Dip… or valley… lies SUCCESS!

Are you in the Dip… in the valley… right now? Persevere… persevere… PERSEVERE! It will be well worth it.

In the greater Orlando area? Need a lesson? Give me a shout!


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