Karl Morris is one of the finest thinkers in the game of golf.  The Mr Miyagi to the finest Karate Kids on Tour.  Be sure to Check out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com
Would the ANCIENT GREEKS have been good GOLFERS?
They say that ‘nothing is new’ but you probably never thought that we would be going so far back in time to be digging up the relics of some ancient Greek wisdom to try to lower our golf score!
In Ancient Greece there was a school of thought which became extremely popular to the degree that the Romans took it on board and for many was a guiding way of life. The ‘Stoics’ had a very interesting philosophy on how to get the best out of each and every day and whilst I am absolutely no expert whatsoever on ancient Greek philosophy whareek olympust I have read so far has really caught my eye and got me thinking about how we could apply it to the modern world and how golf can be a really great place to start incorporating some of the ancient ideas.
Pic: Olympus- deadly from 100 yards and in.
The Stoics primarily believed that it wasn’t so much about what a person said that was important it was how he actually BEHAVED that was the key. It wasn’t what he thought about it was what he DID. How relevant to us all in the modern world is that? How many people do you know who SAY that they are going to do something? They SAY that they are going to call or get the job done, they say they are going to go on a diet, they say they are going to take some lessons, go to the range or whatever the latest fad is but what they SAY and what they DO is are two completely different things.

The Stoics also believed that it was really important to focus on what YOU could control in your world as opposed to looking for the world to make you feel good. Again in our modern experience how many people are out there constantly looking for excuses and people or organisations to blame as a crutch for their own lack of personal responsibility?
We have all done it, I certainly have done too much of it in the past but over the years working with players I think it is true to say it has got worse and worse. Nobody wants to take any form of responsibility anymore, it is always the caddie giving a ‘bad club’, the course being set up poorly, the equipment, the coach, the tee off time, the parents you name it and we are good at blaming it. Yet the Stoics said that you would only EVER reach your true potential when you realised it was all down to YOU and you began to focus on the things you could control and let go of things that you couldn’t. You took ACTION you did what you needed to do.
Another fascinating approach the Stoics had which goes against many of the approaches we have been led to believe in the recent times was something called ‘Negative Visualisation’. They firmly believed that it was immensely beneficial to see in your mind’s eye the worst possible outcome to a situation and how you would go about dealing with it. “Misfortune weighs most heavily on those who expect nothing but good fortune” was a line of thinking often quoted.
In our modern world of being told we can ‘do it all’ and ‘dream big’ and following the ideas of such books like ‘The Secret’ which more or less suggested that we only had to thing good things were going to happen for it to be so it seems an utter contradiction. Yet from my own experience working with golfers who have had a mind coach or psychologist tell them to imagine hitting perfect shots and playing perfect rounds for a lot of people this advice CAN work but I would say that for the majority it creates nothing but disappointment as the perfect round they had seen in their minds eye fails to materialize in the real world. For many players it has worked really well to actually imagine some worst case scenarios. See themselves hitting poor shots and taking high numbers but most importantly seeing themselves overcome the difficulties and battle back. The thing is if you realise that the ‘worst that can happen’ on a golf course is not actually going to end the world and if you realise that if you are prepared to accept the worst and deal with it then you are more than capable of accepting the best. If you are not afraid to lose you certainly are less likely to be afraid to win.
Maybe the stoic approach is not for everyone but for a lot of people who are fed up with being told that the answer lies in relentless positivity perhaps the ancients had stumbled on a way of thinking and living that perhaps in the current climate we may need more than ever both on and off the golf course.
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