Have you ever been so afraid to fail that you didn’t even start something? We’re so afraid of the result that we don’t even get a result. But the thing about results is they are results. How are you going to know if you suck unless you get a result? How are you going to know what to work on unless you get a result? How are you going to know where you’re at on your journey unless you get a result? How are you going to know when you’re actually improving unless you get a result?
Fear of failure can be debilitating. It’s less pervasive in golf when it comes to being afraid to even try. It’s more prevalent when you’re in the middle of the round and thoughts of failure creep into your mind. We’ll cover that another time, but I don’t want to discount that players often struggle with even starting something in golf because of a fear of failure. If I was working with a player I might ask them what failures they are afraid of, and what they have been afraid to even start doing because of that fear. But because I am by myself, here are some of the things that fear has caused me to be too afraid to even start.
The fear was real, and the thoughts were real, but how I reacted to them was irrational.
The college recruiting process. I had such a small belief in my own ability that I was terrified to get rejected by coaches. I certainly didn’t want to go down a path where I could get 29 no’s and 1 yes. What if that yes doesn’t even happen? What if that yes isn’t a good school? What if I am in over my head? How much work will I really have to do to get the attention of coaches? These fears paralyzed me. Fortunately I had awesome parents that basically held my hand through the process. But I’m not too sure I would’ve been able to do it on my own. Looking back though, I was obviously overthinking it. The fear was real, and the thoughts were real, but how I reacted to them was irrational.
Working with an instructor. This one probably isn’t a very common fear for people, but for me working with an instructor was a fear of wasting money. I thought that I could go it alone, save money, and not be tied down by someone else’s opinion. This may have been more pride than fear, but an underlying fear of spending money on a coach and still failing to meet my expectations was a very real fear. This couldn’t have been a more terrible decision for my golf career, but I made it because I was afraid.
Raising money to be a professional golfer. Again, a fear around the subject of money. This was the largest of my golf fears. Not only did I have to believe in myself enough to ask people to support me, I had to make my personality, skills, results, look really good to people. And the ultimate fear of my failure now being someone else’s failure completely paralyzed my ability to even start this journey. I wrote business plans, made budgets, created stats and results sheets, but I never actually asked someone else for money to help me launch a pro golf career. I reacted to the fear with doing nothing.
It’s ok to fear failure, but how you react to that fear is what will separate you from your peers.
This is kind of a downer, I know. But that’s the point! Downers are ok! I can learn from a negative experience! I can’t learn from no experience. I learned from the college recruiting process and the process of finding and working with an instructor. But because I never really tried I can’t learn from my process of raising money. In order to learn you have to expose yourself to failure. And it’s ok to fear failure, but how you react to that fear is what will separate you from your peers. If you react with “paralysis from analysis”, then you won’t get that valuable experience. But if you simply observe the thought with no judgement of yourself, look at it logically, accept the thought, and let it move on, then you’ll be able to move forward with courage and strength.
Thoughts of fear aren’t inherently right or wrong. How we react to them is what can be right or wrong. The solution is simply observing your thoughts with acceptance.
Write down two things you’re afraid of. Could be something you haven’t started yet. Could be something you’re going through right now. Could be a situation from the past on the course that sticks out to you.
Take it a step further and list two or three reasons for why each of those things make you fearful.
Now test your mental strength to be able to observe those “Why’s” as if they are clouds in the sky, and simply let the thoughts pass by in its own time.