Why did Tom Watson lose the British Open? Why did Tiger Woods miss the cut?
Bad breaks, lack of talent, or a downturn in the economy are not the factors which inhibit success," says Dr. Robert J. Rotella, chairman of sports psychology and physical education at the University of Virginia. Slim, wiry, and extremely peppy, Dr. Rotella is also the golf psychologist for several leading golf pros and the Author of the bestselling book Golf is a Game of Confidence.
"The bad news," says Rotella, "is that the enemy of success is within. But the good news is that the real winner is also within." Success, according to this highly specialized master of the psychology of success, will be accomplished through self-awareness, self-understanding, and internal motivation. "Winners," claims Rotella, "refuse to be psyched out. They realize that no one can make you feel inferior but you."
Rotella also subscribes to the theory that winners, although occasionally discouraged and disappointed, allow setbacks to reconfirm their belief in themselves, their dreams, and their goals. In so doing, he believes they enhance their self-motivation and determination to succeed. Dr. Rotella even teaches workshops for winners. In these scientifically structured situations, he helps corporate executives eliminate negativism and self-imposed barriers that inhibit the achievement of their fullest potential.
"The hardest thing in the world to be is yourself," Rotella tells professional athletes and business executives. He goes on to say that no one personality type is the success model. Anyone and any personality can be successful. By learning to "work within yourself" - a concept that he has defined for some of the top golfers on the pro circuit today - you can use your advantages to their fullest and watch your winning self blossom.
We have all seen the model of the hard working salesperson who imagines that more success will come if he or she just works harder. Rotella, on the other hand, advises that harder work doesn't always assure success -- working better does. He teaches how to do that, without the guilt that often accompanies the driven performer.
Finally, Dr. Rotella says that real winners are safe, secure, and self-confident. They build those around them into winners. Dr. Rotella tells us just how we all can become sales winners.
I can only help someone to build his own confidence. I'm an educator. People keep calling me a shrink - forget that - I see myself as educating athletes about how their minds and bodies work together.
People come in to me all the time and say, "I want you to teach me how to concentrate." I usually look at them and say, "Look, you already know how to concentrate. What we've got to do is look at what's stopping you from concentrating." Anyone can concentrate. First, they have to know what to concentrate on. A lot of people perform and they never get around to asking, "What am I supposed to be thinking about?"
Tune out distractions
There are a whole lot of distracters that interfere with concentration because you end up concentrating on the distracter instead of on the appropriate task. People need to be more flexible in their thinking and not to be distracted by the environment stimuli that interfere. Once you get someone confident, they automatically know what to concentrate on and how to do it and how to keep it there. Once they lose that confidence, we have to look at what caused it to happen.
Don’t OD on positive thinking
I think that both losing and hindering confidence have a lot of the same elements. I think we get so involved in positive thinking that we often fail to talk about the realities that exist out there.
I think what we've done over the last fifteen years is to give inspirational talks on being positive and how wonderful everything's going to be - if only you can imagine success - see it in your mind - imagine playing golf or tennis perfectly or flawlessly. Well, the athletes that I work with - the good ones - say, "Hey, that's great. Now when are we going to talk about the way it really is?" I say, "What do you mean?" And they say, "Well, I'm the second best player in the country and when everything is going great I have no problem. When I need help is when everything's not going terrific."
Get your ego out of the way
Tim Carroll, a writer for the WSJ described how Dr. Bob Rotella, was asked after a speech why golfers can play so well on Saturday in a major, but coming down the stretch on Sunday it just gets tougher and tougher. His answer was to ask his questioner who his favorite actress was. When he got an answer, he said he had cleared it with his wife, but the actress had just called him and was coming to meet him in a hotel next door tomorrow night. Dr. Rotella said he cleared it with the man’s wife, God, and anyone else who might have a say in the matter. But here’s the catch, he said: You can’t think about your rendezvous until tomorrow night. If you do, it goes up in a puff of smoke.
That’s what great athletes have to do. Focus on one shot at a time. Don’t think beyond that shot and what it means to your pocketbook, your career, or your place in history.
That’s what great salespeople do. Focus on the conversation with the customer. Don’t think beyond that call and what the outcome means to your pocketbook, your career, or your place on the scoreboard.
Stewart Cink walked away with the British Open trophy. He told reporters, “I grew up watching Tom Watson on television and hoped I could one day follow in his footsteps.” For the critical four hole playoff, chances are that Stewart simply followed the rules of winning the inner game of golf – one shot at a time.
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