Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Is Your Pre-Shot Routine?

Nuggets For The Noggin
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, December 27, 2009

To the non golfer, people playing golf would appear to be something like grabbing a club, swinging at a ball, putting the club back in the bag, and then, repeat step one. There would appear to be little if any “routine” involved whatsoever. Most golfers know this is not the case and that a routine is often the difference between a good golfer and a not-so-good golfer.

In fact if you watch a professional golfer in action, you will see that just before taking each shot, the pro takes one very specific action that serves as a “trigger” that starts a very specific (sorry for using that phrase twice in one sentence but it works) set of actions and thoughts that culminates in the golf ball finally coming to rest. Even then the routine is not complete until the golfer instantly and immediately assesses the completed shot; what went right, what went wrong and then what went right again.

That in itself is a lesson: Never start a self-evaluation with a negative (what went wrong) and never end with a negative. Think of an Oreo cookie, the chocolate represents the “what went right” and the cream filling the “what went wrong?” You never want to leave your mind thinking about the things that went wrong; always end on a positive note.

A good golfer does this before he or she can totally relax between shots. Famed Jack Nicklaus said that he only had to focus on the golf shot for about 30 seconds. That would start with some form of “trigger” to start his pre-shot routine. He would relax between 30 second shots. He said it would be impossible for someone to give 100% focus for a four or five hour round of golf but in 30 second increments it was not only possible it was required.

What is a trigger? In golf a trigger is a very specific action like adjusting the strap on your golf glove; adjusting your cap, pulling up the right or left sleeve of your shirt or as in the case of Arnold Palmer, tugging on his pants. This action started a thought and action process that like Nicklaus said, took only about 30 seconds to complete where he remained focused on the task at hand for about 30 seconds. By repetition he grooved his swing and in a lot of ways also grooved his results.

Why is having a pre-shot (pre-day) routine so important to your business and your life? No one that I am aware of, except of course for maybe you, can be focused every waking minute of the day; no one! Therefore it would seem, at least to me, that compartmentalizing your specific daily activities into time blocks would be step one to having a more successful day.

Compartment #1: Waking up. If ever there was one aspect of your day that was the most important this is it, regardless of what you want to accomplish on any given day; wake up! When you do, what do you do? Is it the same every day? It is by design or by accident? Have you given any thought as to what you do the first thing upon waking up? What would happen if you did what you do by choice rather than by accident?

Create a trigger action upon waking up. I would suggest that your first thought should be giving thanks for waking up to another day; keep in mind the alternative may not be the start of a great day for you. Think about it for just a second. The very first thought you think could set your mood for the next 12 to 18 or so hours. Become aware of this moment and when you awake, make good use of the fact that you did wake up for another day and be grateful for doing so. Then tell yourself it is going to be another great day!

This may sound a little kinky but then sometimes kinky is good. Since the first thing you typically see when you awake is the ceiling why not put something on your ceiling that will make you happy as soon as you see it? That is your trigger for the next several activities you will do each and every day. (Dr. Jeanne Reeves, my dentist, has motivational posters tacked to the ceiling above her dental chairs so that is what you see while you are being worked on.) You decide what those activities are and if I may be so bold, here are a few suggestions:

  • First and foremost, give thanks for being alive! It’s always better to see the grass from the top instead of the roots. :-)
  • Get in the habit of waking up a little bit earlier than you have been and use the extra time to read a few pages of something motivational and/or inspirational – you choose!
  • Exercise for a few minutes. If you have a treadmill in your home, consider walking AND reading something motivational and/or inspirational at the same time – multi-task! This is one of the few times you can really multi-task without compromising either activity.
  • Look in the mirror and remember this one thought, you would worry less about what other people think if you knew how little other people actually thought of you. Learn to love what you see in the mirror and stop criticizing who you are looking at. After all, you are who you are and no amount of make-up or wishing will change what you look like. Okay, maybe some make-up would help a little; for you-know-who, make that a lot. :-)
  • Take a few minutes and review your goals; you do have goals don’t you? Goals will keep you on track to accomplish what you want to accomplish.
  • If you did not create a Daily To-Do List the night before, create one now and make certain that you concentrate primarily on those activities that if done will make the biggest difference in your life TODAY! For folks in sales, like you-know-who, those activities would be considered dollar productive activities.
  • Besides yourself, make the first and every person you see this day feel really important; really important! If everyone you met today made you feel important, how would you feel? Imagine seeing the letters MMFI (Make Me Feel Important) on their forehead.

Jack Nicklaus knows the importance of having a trigger followed by a pre-shot routine; why not learn from the master and create your own trigger and your own pre-day (pre-shot) routine? Spend a few minutes every morning doing the same thing to set your mind in the proper mindset to attack the day.

You can figure out what the remaining compartments of your day are. Here is a thought; try Joe Tye’s Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) and ask yourself:


You be the judge!