The Difference Between Good And Great

Have you ever wondered why the best players in golf, the top players in the world, have golf coaches that in most cases are not even good enough themselves to play on the PGA tour? I have. So I looked into it a bit further and found some startling statistics. Did you know that the difference between the number one player in professional golf and the last player in professional golf is often less than three strokes average over the course of a season? These guys can play 80, 90, even a 100 rounds of golf a year, with an average of around 70 strokes per game, and the difference between the top player in the world and the last player is often less than three strokes average. In other words, the best player in golf is really not that much better than the worst player. He is just a little better.

Now every player on the PGA tour uses the same basic equipment. And they all practice a lot. And they all work out with similar exercise routines and watch what they eat. So what is the difference between the top player and the worst player in golf? Its what and how they think. The process of thinking between the top player and the worst player is not the same. The imagination, or lack of it, is entirely different between the two. And it is that pattern of thinking, that imagination, that makes all the difference.  And so the top players in the world hire a coach to help them see what they are not capable of seeing in themselves and as a result they are able to make just a few small changes that create the difference between good and great.

When I was in college a friend of mine wanted to be a professional golfer so he used to work nights in a restaurant as a waiter so he could practice golfing every day. Even though he was better than any golfer I knew and regularly scored close to par, or close to the score he would need to become a professional golfer, he was not good enough. To make it as a pro he needed to get just a little better. So he decided to relearn the game of golf.

This was no easy task. He went to a new teacher who made him abandon his habits and many other things he had learned about golf over the previous ten years. His teacher made him start over. He was taught a new way to play a golf shot. For the first year following this new training his golf game actually got worse: his handicap increased to almost twenty strokes. But surely and steadily over time he improved until he finally reached a stage where he had improved his game enough to have a chance to make it on the pro tour. His success, however, came only because he was willing to set aside many of his previously held beliefs about golf and learn new ideas. He was willing to challenge and “unlearn” what he thought he previously knew about golf.

The same is true in life. To become great we must be willing to challenge old assumptions and beliefs and relearn that which we may think we already know. I am fortunate that I get to help people do this for a living. All of my leadership programs are designed to help people question their assumptions and beliefs, and put them in situations that challenge their old thinking and challenge them to try new behaviors – small changes that create great new outcomes in their life.  This is something many people find very difficult to do. As people get older, unless they make a point of learning and exposing themselves to new ideas, it becomes easier to tread in routine and habit. Seldom faced with new ideas or beliefs, they forget the process of learning and become more cynical of new ideas that do not match their belief systems. Unless they learn how to learn again, and unless they are willing to challenge their own beliefs when presented with new facts, their learning ceases.

One of the first steps towards realization of our dreams is a willingness to relearn what we think we already know. A willingness to make even small changes. If you do so, I promise that in time it will ultimately make the difference in your life between good and great.