Who? What? When? Where? How? All of these questions are rooted in wanting to know the things to do and the steps to take to get somewhere or something you want. They are all wanting an easy answer. They are wanting the quick tip. They are all lacking self-awareness and independence to find out the answers for yourself.
The one usually part of that group of one-word questions, but that’s different from all the others is: "Why?"
"Why?" doesn’t want the answer given to it. "Why?" doesn’t want the easy road. "Why?" doesn’t want the quick tip or list of to-do’s.
"Why?" wants to know a deeper reason. "Why?" has purpose. "Why?" is the sustaining force of motivation no matter the circumstances.
There is nothing that predicts your future better than your "Why?"
Rooting yourself in a strong enough reason to do something is going to sustain you even when the going gets tough.
Asking somebody “Why do you play golf?” is very revealing. This is always the point in my one-on-one sessions that make the players step back from hitting, get quiet for a bit, kind of laugh to themselves, and say “good question”. It seems no one has a quick answer to that question. Some players say they’ve thought about this before, but most come up with an answer right then and there. The answer is usually something like “because I enjoy it” or “I enjoy the competition”. I’m not saying enjoying something isn’t a good enough reason to do it. But I believe that most people have a deeper reason. At least the players that I’ve been around.
I don’t say this, but my first thought when someone says “because I enjoy it” is, “so you’ve been playing for over a decade, hours and hours a day, some good days but mostly expectations not lived up to, countless lost tournaments, and innumerable disappointments, and you keep going because you enjoy it?” I think you can see why I don’t say that back to players. I don’t want to be overtly rude.
But if players really looked deep within, I think they would find that something else has been sustaining them. But the issue is that players don’t know this inner "Why?" so when things get tough they find it harder to push through than if they had their "Why?" always in front of them.
My personal "Why?" for mental coaching is this:
“I believe that golfers, and people in general, should not be bound by their nerves, their expectations, or their results. I believe that golf is a game, and it’s meant to be played. I believe that people are meant to be free to be themselves even when there’s pressure to be something else. I believe that the people that are struggling should be the most excited because they have room to grow. I believe that people should not be driven by fear, but rather by love for the game.”
This "Why?" Statement is the spring from which my passion to coach golfers comes. When I remember that I have an opportunity to affect players to play with the freedom they deserve, then I get excited and motivated to help. My "Why?" exists regardless of what I’m doing, and Mental Coaching is simply the vehicle that allows me to help people.
So how can you apply this in your own life? How can you have a positive impact on your game (and life) by having a well-defined "Why?"
I recommend getting alone for about 15-30 minutes, and looking back at your golfing self. And for those 30 minutes, asking yourself nothing but Why? questions. “Why did I start playing golf?” “Why do I practice?” “Why do I play golf now?” “Why do I not quit completely when I shoot a bad score?” And when you respond, ask "Why?" again to your response.
Example: Q: “Why did I start playing golf?” A: “Because I really enjoyed playing with my Dad.” Q: “Why did I enjoy playing with my Dad?” A: “Because it game me quality time with him to do something we both loved.”
Always take it two levels deep.
Example: Q: “Why do I not quit completely when I shoot a bad score?” A: “Because I like getting better.” Q: “Why do I like getting better?” A: “Because the process of improvement is such a good feeling.”
And once you’ve wrung out all of your top-level questions, you can compile your responses into a "Why?" Statement. So now when someone asks “Why do you play golf?” you have a response this time.
“Because I love being able to share an activity with the people that I love. Because I love the process of improvement. And golf just so happens to be a great outlet for these deeply held beliefs.”
This deeper level of meaning is what will give golf more purpose for you. It will give you more of a reason to keep going when things aren’t going the way you’d like. And in golf that’s all too often.
Dig deep within and find WHY you do what you do. And always keep that WHY at the front of your mind. You’ll have more motivation, patience, and serenity than you knew you was possible.