A golfer’s mindset can influence the way we lead

Scottie Scheffler is making a splash in the golf world after his recent 2022 Master’s win. Not only did he win the most prestigious golf tournament in the world at the coveted Augusta National golf club, he has also risen to the ranks of world’s #1 golfer. 

What’s fascinates me most about Scottie is not his impressive golf game with his unique footwork that is unmatched by anyone on the PGA Tour, it is his mindset and how he approaches life to influence his day to day behaviors. Let’s unpack Scottie’s mindset so we too can learn how to improve our leadership and our performance in our lives.

#1: Scotties faith.

Scottie is a man of faith and he has built his identify around the principals of his belief system. Why is it so important to have a deeper purpose to life and in what we do? How does connecting with something bigger than us allow us to play and think better during the most stressful and pressured-filled moments of our lives? In 1995, Bob Buford wrote a book called Halftime and he popularized the concept of moving from “success to significance.” He noticed that there is no true success without significance – and the power of being in service to others can fill us up more with happiness, joy, and living a meaningful life than the accumulation of wealth, power, status, and fame ever can. 

In fact, Bronnie Ware, a palliative caregiver who spent many years at the bedside of those literally on their deathbed wrote a powerful article called The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. Bronnie noticed that at the end of life, people didn’t care as much about being rich, successful, or the accumulation of things – in fact, those were often what they regretted because what they wished for was to have more meaningful relationships, purpose, and spending more time in joy in the everyday moments. 

Scottie Scheffler actively lives out God’s purpose for his life. It doesn’t matter if he is flipping burgers or winning Masters, Scottie’s identity is first and foremost grounded as a follower of Jesus Christ. What he does in life, is what he does… not who he is. In my work with clients, it is often around the discovery of purpose and finding our “why.” Many leaders make the mistake of their career to define who their are and to determine their worth. I have seen far to many people reach the pinnacle of their career, only to find themselves unfilled and unsatisfied. Happiness is almost always found when we are connect to a mission that is bigger than ourselves.

After the recent Masters’ win, Scottie was asked about what was going through his mind and Scottie said – The reason why I play golf is because I’m trying to glorify God and all that he has done in my life. For me, my identity isn’t a golf score.” The reported then asked… “So does that free you up in the moment? Does that make you less nervous? And Scottie said “100%.” 

#2 Get off the Hedonic treadmill.

Many have a habit of saying… “I’ll be happy when I… (fill in the blank with whatever you want here)

For example, “I’ll be happy when I close this deal.” Or “I’ll be happy when our kids finally leave the house.” We often think that when we finally achieve the goal, we’ll be happy. But if you’ve ever experienced this and actually did “achieve” the goal you’ve always wanted…. Many of us experience a short burst of temporary happiness, but return to our set-point of happiness shortly after and we are right into the mindset of looking for the next win. Subconsciously, when we tell ourselves that I will be happy when… we defer our happiness to a future event, telling ourselves that we are not happy now. This is called the hedonic treadmill – and we mistakenly pursue happiness in external things – which never works in the end because it doesn’t last. Before we know it, we’re back to where we started – unhappy and searching for the next fix to make us happy. 

Like Scottie and how he set his mantras throughout the Masters – instead of waiting until he “won” the tournament to  be happy, he choose to be happy with where he was currently at (whether he won or not). Instead, he focused on his identity as much more than a golfer or the results of golf. He focused on his identity as a husband, as a son, and all the close people in his life. He practices an attitude of gratitude. It sounds cheesy, but gratitude is a skill that must be practiced and the more you do it, even when you don’t feel like doing it… you begin to hunt for the good stuff in your life. This is what psychologists call “benefit finding” – to find the beauty and joy in the every day things in life. 

#3 Surround yourself with a great supportive team.

Scottie had a very specific request in looking for a caddie, which is a professional golfer’s right hand person who carries the bag throughout the golf round. Scottie wanted someone who he could share his faith with and talk about his faith both on and off the course. Ted Scott, Scottie’s caddie has over 21 years of experience on the PGA tour and was a long-time caddie for Bubba Watson. He is a strong christian, with very strong values, and he keeps things light hearted (just watch his instagram feeds and what a jokester he is). This personality with the combination of his strong faith is exactly what Scottie Scheffler wanted and needed. The win here for Scottie is knowing what he wanted and needed in a strategic partner and going after it to recruit this talent into his inner circle. It is important to surround yourself with the right people and to have the support that will bring out the best in you. Like they say… 

If you hang around 5 confident people you will be the 6th

If you hang around 5 intelligent people you will be the 6th

If you hang around 5 millionaires you will be the 6th

If you hang around 5 idiots you will be the ………

#4 Being sincerely okay to make mistakes.

In various interviews throughout the 2022 Master’s week, Scottie said on multiple occasions that what he does is not who he is and because of that, he is able to fully accept himself in spite of all the mistakes. 

The morning of his final round at the Masters, Scottie wrote himself a personal handwritten note. This is what he wrote:  

If I win this golf tournament, it will change my life on the golf course but it wont change my personal life at home. Winning the golf tournament isnt going to satisfy my soul or my heart. I know that going in, so I am able to play freely knowing that the rest isnt really up to me. Im just going to do my best.” 

Isn’t that beautiful? It would be so great if all of us were able to write a personal note to ourselves and read it the morning of a very big event just like what Scottie did to remind himself of what really matters in life on the final day of the Masters. 

My wife always tells me, “high involvement… low attachment.” To me that means do the best you can and go all in while you are giving it your best… but whatever the results may be, do not attach yourself to the outcome – good or bad.”

#5 High performers find a way to compete, show up, and execute, in spite of how they feel.

In the morning of his final round, Scottie cried like a baby because of the overwhelming amount of fear he was experiencing that day. He said “I cried like a baby this morning. I was so stressed out. I didnt know what to do. I was sitting there telling Meredith [his wife], “I dont think Im ready for this… and I just felt overwhelmed.” 

Regardless of how he felt, he leaned into his own fear… put on his clothes, strapped on his boots, and showed up. Not only did he show up… he trusted his training, his process, and himself. Even as the #1 golfer in the world, he feels fear, stress, and overwhelm. We will all feel this way to during the times that matter most to us. However, the key difference between a world’s number 1 versus anyone of us… is that in spite of these feelings, they show up.  They commit, they believe, and play to win. I tell my clients all the time, “confidence is an action… it is a verb that we must learn how to do. It is not a feeling we wait around for.”

Like Scottie – he may not have felt the most confident that morning, but he showed up to the course with confidence. He showed up to the Sunday round of the 2022 Masters and won.

If you would like participant in a mindset and leadership training, view our course offerings here and learn how to live and lead wholeheartedly on and off the golf course.

-Dr. Mat

Hi, We’re Julia & Mat

A husband and wife team of psychotherapists turned coaches who founded The Insight Company.

With the right tools in your back pocket, you can uncover the greatness which already lives within you and is waiting to be unlocked.

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