By Steven Pressfield | Published: April 11, 2012Have you ever wondered why so many CEOs and high-achievers (including sports superstars like Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky) are so taken with the game of golf? It’s not just because they get to wear white belts and plaid pants.
(With apologies to everyone who lives along the banks of the Cuyahoga, here is Tom Wolfe’s definition of a white belt and white shoes worn as part of the same outfit. Mr. Wolfe calls it a “full Cleveland.”)
But back to golf.
The reason high-performance professionals are often smitten with golf is that golf, more than almost any other sport, requires the player to perform over and over the following mental/emotional action:
To focus exclusively on the shot in front of him, no matter how horrifically he has just screwed up the previous shot(s).This exercise is identical to what the World Bank President or the NBA champ have to perform in their day jobs.
Golf makes performance of this action particularly difficult because unlike full-speed sports like basketball, football, tennis or hockey (where the player is in motion), golf makes the competitor execute each stroke from a standing start. As anyone who has ever tried to sink a three-foot putt under pressure knows, this is where the mental game (aka psyching yourself out or “choking”) rears its ugly head.
All this is a long wind-up to the concept of the professional mindset.