I am on the first tee ready to tee off when a barrage of self-doubt in my ability to make this shot hits me. Questions seem to pierce my brain: will I split the drive right down the middle, pull the ball into the trees? Or, will I do what I fear the most: slice the ball into the big, blue lake, just right of the fairway by 10 yards and surrounded by weeping willows? I attempt to divert myself with my established calming routines, but my mind follows its own path racing to thoughts of my life’s problems – what are my goals, will I pass my algebra quiz, did I forget my gym clothes – and enters my consciousness. These thoughts fill the corners of my mind; I feel ragged and feel myself unravel. In my gut, I know there is no chance of splitting the middle of the fairway with a powerful and accurate hit. Have I lost my game – have I lost myself?
When did life get so complicated? This is my game; I have the skills and the desire to play well. I muddle and fume through a myriad of options, seeking black-and-white solutions, until I realize I am losing sight of the real game. The insanity of trying to make up for that one bad stroke is costing me. My loss of focus leads to more mistakes, more self doubt. I’m not only losing the focus in the little game of golf, but I also realize I’m losing the focus on the big game of life. Both losses share a common root: my wavering confidence in myself.
It dawns on me that nurturing a belief in myself will help me to break complex issues down and work through them, both in golf and in life. Self-doubt does not help me control that complexity but rather creates more chaos. Focusing my game on the basics provides the foundation for success, whether I am on the golf course or determining my future career. I believe I am the force in control and my abilities as a golfer, or as a man in general, develop from a belief in myself; I am no longer lost.
As in golf, when faced with those momentary lapses in a core belief in myself, I have to walk away from the ball and refocus. I take a good, honest swing path from the outside in to split the fairway just the way I like it with a slight draw. My belief in my abilities, both physical and mental, is the foundation for my success. Learning to handle the simple game of golf provides the essence of how I will make it through the weeping willow trees and big blue lakes in the game of life. Not every game will follow a smooth path, but my self-reliance allows me to overcome the hurdles life may put in my way. I believe confidence in self leads to confidence in life.
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