One of my favorite mental toughness mantras is, "In order to become different from what you are, you must first have an awareness of what you are." That means taking time to really dig in, strip the ego and accept who you are in this moment. It's not always easy and you might not be happy with what you find, but this is where your road to achievement begins.
When I speak of thoughts related to performance, what I'm really getting at is how your thinking affects your mood and then how your mood influences your play. Think about a shot in your past when you had the feeling you simply couldn't miss. Something about that situation got you excited. It could have been a perfect lie, success on a previous shot, playing your favorite hole or something else that made you feel great. Your thinking was on point and then BAM, you hit a beautiful shot. On the flip side, consider a time when you felt exactly the opposite. A moment when over the ball nothing felt good but you swung anyway and what you got was a complete disaster. We've all been there for sure.
The key is understanding that mood is a result of thinking and YOU control your thoughts. This means through practice you can learn to better choose your thoughts and develop the ability to create that same pumped-up, can't-miss feeling on every shot regardless of what's happening externally. Is it easier to be positive when things are going well, of course, but how you think is a choice.
This challenge using a simple box of paper clips is very revealing and is an exercise I recommend everyone try at least once. Is it possible to never have a negative thought? Probably not, but through increased awareness you have the power to limit negative thinking and even start replacing those negative thoughts with ideas that more positively elevate your mood and performance.
People are at their best when they feel their best and how you feel is all up to you. Commit to elevating your awareness of negativity for one full round of golf and you can count this mindset challenge as complete.
Become a more disciplined thinker
Elevate your mood at will
Produce better results
Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf.