Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stop Trying To Win

I have a buddy (we'll call him Briana) who's on vacation from his job for the summer, giving him ample time to play golf... and is he ever taking advantage of that opportunity (don't worry, bro -- my feelings don't get hurt every time you choose golf over me!). As much as I'd like to make this about ripping him, I'll take the mature road, and talk about what a great job he's doing.

I'm not sure if Briana's even consciously aware of it, but he's improving so fast because he's not worried so much about his score. Whenever he sends me texts about his round, he always emphasizes a specific part of his game that he's been practicing, rather than the final outcome. That type of thinking is rare in athletes, other than the very top level competitor. Briana's focusing most of his attention on the little details of his game and the subtleties of golf in general, which is automatically improving his score. In my opinion, this is the most important tool in an athlete's mindset, and is the main factor that will separate the great from the average.

It's not easy when we're trying to achieve that next-level goal, but we need to stay focused on the process of what we're doing, rather than our outcome. We need to actually STOP TRYING TO WIN. Yep, I said it... let go of the winning, and concentrate on the "how."  

Oh crap, here it comes... here comes the arguing:

"Dayne, stop trying to win?!?! Are you serious? Why even play if we're not trying to win? Who doesn't want to win? You think Tiger, Federer, and Kobe aren't TRYING to win"

Nope, they're not trying to win... 

THEY'RE TRYING TO COMPETE AT THEIR HIGHEST LEVEL, KNOWING THE WINNING WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF! 

I know all caps is annoying, but I just can't emphasize that point enough. Tiger, Fed, and Kobe definitely want to win, but when they're competing, they're only goal is to play to their maximum potential (in Kobe's world... help his teammates play to the best of their ability).

Wanting to win and trying to win is a very delicate balance that many athletes unfortunately never figure out. Everyone around us-- family, friends, and coaches are constantly emphasizing "trying to win," but rarely remind us to focus on what it takes to achieve that goal. Switch those two in your life, and you'll discover a whole new way of competing! 

P.S.
Briana... cute name!

4 comments:

Anelise Marie said...

i think not only are you completely right when it comes to competition in sports, but really you could apply that theory and method of practice to anything in life. If you're working hard to improve one aspect of your life instead of focusing on the overall expected outcome, the outcome will come naturally. Its too much to take on if you only think about the huge goal, so by breaking it down into pieces and tackling those, the pressure wont be there so ultimately you'll improve with better quality overall.

Dayne Gingrich said...

Exactly, but allowing the result take care of itself can be counterintuitive, though. We're unfortunately surrounded w/ people telling us to win, get straight A's, and finalize that business deal, turning the focus into things we can't truly control (more on that subject in another post).

If there was a "secret to success," it would be understanding this concept, and actually redefining what success really means. In my world, success mean working, trying harder, and not quitting (and not allowing my students to ever quit).

Top Form Fitness said...

Interesting perspective. I agree in that I understand the message you are getting across, but I also like thinking about "winning". Could lead to a whole other discussion I think. Love your blog so far bro... keep it up! If you are into fitness, I invite you to check out mine at www.stayfitminute.com also.

Phil-theincredibleshrinkingman said...

what a great blog, i've tried to lose weight for so many years and failed, why? I think it's because i focus on the goal rather than how to get there. loving the blog so far