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August 19 2013

1:57 PM

Mental Game: Failing forward

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Patrick Reed used past struggles to help lead him to his first PGA TOUR win.

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

When you look at Patrick Reed, all you see is the 2013 Wyndham Championship winner. What you don’t see are all the struggles Reed endured to reach the pinnacle of his sport. You don’t see a golfer who survived six Monday qualifiers last year for the PGA TOUR prior to gaining full-time playing privileges. You don’t see all the thousands of hours practicing and digging his game in the dirt. All you see is the newest TOUR winner.

I call this the “iceberg profile” of success. Like an iceberg that is seen only 10 percent above the surface, we only see the few successes of an individual. What we don’t see are all the hardships that someone had to endure on their path to success. And everyone who has achieved at the highest level has had their share of hardships and failures.

Take Nick Faldo, the six-time major champion and Hall of Famer. He was once known as Nick Foldo by the British press due to his inability to win down the stretch. Or look at Michael Jordan, considered the greatest basketball player of all time. He missed more than 9,000 shots, many of them potential game-winners, during his career.

I am sure you too have failed many times. I know I have!

The secret to your golfing success will be to use those failures as a jumping board. In other words, you must use failure as a way to move forward. You must fail forward!

Here are some strategies to fail forward in your game:

1. Create a failing forward journal. After each round, write down five mistakes you made. Then write down what you learned from each mistake. The importance of this mental exercise is that you see your mistakes as a learning opportunity.

2. Take yourself out of the equation of a failure event. Understand that the event was a failure -- don’t evaluate yourself as a failure.

But don’t just think about what you should have done; go out and practice those skills you need to improve. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Failure is not failure unless it is failure to change”

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.

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