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Dump Perfection; Embrace Failure


Perfection is unattainable. This is what makes golf so beautiful. It correlates directly to life as well. Life and golf are each beautiful in their imperfections. This winter has been a HUGE learning experience for me. Let’s just say I got a little side tracked on my journey. Fortunately, it only happened for a brief moment on this long road to becoming the best coach and instructor that I can be.

              I learned two very important lessons this winter. First, failure has become my new best friend. I learned to embrace the idea, and realized that I cannot learn, succeed or reach my goals without failure. I always fought so hard against failure. My students almost always fight tooth and nail against failure. Somewhere along the way, we adopted this idea that it is not acceptable to hit a bad shot, miss a short putt, or choke under pressure. But without failure, we cannot learn how to become better tomorrow.

              Starting today, embrace your failures as a way to improve. Be willing to experience a bad shot or a missed putt. Be open to the possibility you may hit it sideways off the tee box. When you allow failure to be part of your game you are also allowing change to happen. Do not make the mistake of limiting this to the golf course either. Embrace failure in everyday life. You won’t believe how much you will learn from things you were once afraid to do because of the fear of failure.

              Lesson number two deals with perfection. I’ve said it before, but perfection isn’t real. It is a poison disguised as a vitamin. If you have a pulse and you play golf, you know what this means. We place perfection on a pedestal like it's something we all try to achieve. Unfortunately, the harder you reach for it, the further you get from achieving your goals. STOP trying to be perfect today. You are wasting precious time reaching for something you will never accomplish. Dump your desire to be perfect, embrace your failures, learn from them and know that tomorrow is only going to be better because of your struggles today.

              Ask yourself, what failures do you need to embrace today in order to start improving tomorrow? For me it was a dream I’ve been working on for a year now. I’m very motivated to help my students enjoy the game of golf. So, I came up with this idea to create a style of golf coaching I feel will help to revolutionize golf instruction. I set out to create a journal for students to use each day, so they could visibly see and track their progress as they went through the program. This would help them stay on track and stay motivated as they see strokes fall off of their game.

              I know what you are thinking… “Great idea, Matt! You should create that!” I know right, well, little did I know how difficult the process was going to be. After months of frustration and dead ends, I needed to admit that I needed more practice and research. Failing was going to be phase one before I could create and publish a journal worth handing out to my students. Next, I had to boot the idea of perfection out the window. Seriously the hardest thing I have ever done. And trust me, I’m still not there. But slowly the "imperfect" coaching journal is getting done. Which is better than giving up.

              This spring look at your golf game as an opportunity to learn from your failures. After your round of golf, write down three bad shots you hit or an area of your game you were not satisfied with. What can you learn from the failure? For example, I have control issues and when I get under pressure I try to control the putter head instead of letting it swing freely. And I realized it all comes from grip pressure. After months of failing I was able to embrace the bad putting stroke and start working on something productive.