The one concept the game of golf has taught me over the 20 years I’ve played is that your mentality significantly impacts your actions. Mentality is what distinguishes the amateur golfer from the elite professional: the way they prepare, perceive, and take on the challenges before them begins with their mindset.
Similarly, the success of highly productive people comes from their mindset: they think about their productivity as well as how to continue to be as effective as possible. Like golf, productivity requires a significant investment in time and mindful effort before you begin to see improvement. Though it’s easy to get the newest productivity app or follow the latest list of hacks, app aficionados who realize success are self-aware of what helps and hinders their productivity and constantly check in with their own personal processes to see if tools are necessary and a proper fit for them.
But how do you begin to hone that mentality? From a young age, I began to use reflective practice to help me develop a mindful self-awareness with the intent of homing in on shortcomings to effectively improve them. It wasn’t easy to maintain the focus required, so my dad created maxims to help me – and they’ve stuck with me to this day.
Here are 3 of his mental golf maxims that will move you to change your mentality and get more productive today.
“A Pre-Shot Routine is Important”
Despite advice to develop and maintain a consistent pre-shot routine, many people doubt how important this simple process really is.
The Lesson: Having a standard routine or process can actively trigger the cadence in which you are most effective and productive. In golf, a routine is used to plan, visualize, calm, and focus the individual for optimal execution for the challenge – or shot – at hand. Similarly, having standard operating processes can create a sense of stability and calm in an often unpredictable business world. The processes you create can offer structure that is both robust enough to complete often with great results, but also flexible enough to tailor whatever the current situation requires.
“It’s the Archer, Not the Arrow”
Many people purchase new tools or software based on the belief that “It will make me better.”
The Lesson: It’s you; it’s not the equipment. While technology can help you improve, first and foremost, invest in yourself. While there is a slew of productivity applications available in the marketplace, they provide a short term solution to your inefficiencies. A better solution begins with determining a root cause: find inspiration in Toyota’s Taiichi Ohno exercise and spend time in mindful self-observation. Over time, your observations will create a self-awareness that offers insight into what can be improved before you implement any tools. This, in turn, empowers you to effectively act on the feedback.
“Practice Makes Perfect”
The Lesson: Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. Instead of completely scrapping your current productivity processes, work smarter by putting in high-quality, concentrated improvement efforts over shorter periods of time. The effectiveness of these efforts is highlighted by consistent improvements through a rapid iteration feedback loop, the key to which is mindfully taking the feedback at the end of every process iteration and enacting changes based on that feedback. That said, fine-tuning to perfection doesn’t happen overnight. Keeping Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule in mind, you must have the patience to persevere and keep a long-term view despite the seemingly minute improvements. Remember, it’s often the small changes that yield the greatest results.
In summary, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” Your improvement doesn’t come from the tools you’ve purchased, it’s from the quality time and effort spent in making your own processes better.