For fellow golf fans, you may have experienced the same feelings of wonder I did when Phil Mickleson lifted the USPGA trophy last weekend.

In a recent podcast, Ed Mylett, relayed a question from his son who is currently playing college golf. ‘What’s the difference between the 50th ranked player in the world, and the first ranked player in the world?’

Mickleson immediately began describing an example of how he told a young amateur player of a drill he used to practice to improve his short putting: ‘Make 100 three footers in a row’.

Mickleson checked back in on the amateur a few weeks later to ask him how the progress was, to which the amateur responded: ‘Ah it was okay, I kind of made it to maybe around 50ish and stopped.’

Mickleson replied: ‘That’s the difference between the best in the world – I was willing to do whatever it took, however long it took, versus those who don’t have the willpower to see things through.’

Being the best in the world at something, is having the mindset of doing what you have to do, and doing whatever it takes to get there.

The difference between the number 50 player and the number one player in the world rankings is also going to be their ability to visualise shots and outcomes.

Visualisation

In general, across all industries and walks of life, people who are able to visualise the clearest are the ones who typically have successful businesses, careers and lives.

Everybody can execute, but do you have the ability to visualise your goals and understand what is needed to get there?

During my coaching, I always find it amazing how vague people can be in defining and in describing their goals. If you don’t have specific goals and the visualisation of how to accomplish them, you will remain in the same place.

I recall a study conducted by Dr Biasiotto from the University of Chicago, involving basketball players. They were split into three groups and were tested on how many free throws they made.

The first group practised free throws every day for an hour. The second group only visualised themselves making free throws. The third group did nothing.

After 30 days, Dr Biasiotto tested the three groups again.

The first group, which practised free throws every day for an hour, improved by 24%. The second group, which only visualised making free throws, improved by 23% without even touching a basketball. The third group did not improve, which was expected.

This same research is used by Shirzad Chamine in his book Positive Intelligence, which demonstrates the science behind this phenomenon.

My final example is one that Marcus Childs talks about in his presentations involving the runner Paula Radcliffe. In an interview, her father recalled how Radcliffe at a young age visualised a clear and vivid picture of herself winning medals after coming third in her first cross country race at school. Of course you have to have the right attributes to succeed, but setting a vision and goal that is so powerful can give you the drive and commitment to do the work to get there.

Going back to golf, in his interview Phil Mickleson talks about a time period just before the 2003 Masters Tournament, where he wasn’t hitting the ball well. Instead of hitting balls and becoming further consumed by the physical aspect of the sport, the five days prior to the tournament beginning, Phil was at home mentally rehearsing and preparing. He ended up having a successful tournament and finished third.

‘Visualise the shot, see the way you want the ball to fly, reference prior successful shots,’ says Mickelson. For those who watched the USPGA you will notice Mickelson close his eyes before many of the shots. Sometimes this is difficult to see because he wears sunglasses but watch how he almost goes into a trance while he is visualising the shot. There are many parallels we can draw with visualising success on the sports field with success in business or in any other aspect of life such as relationships or work.

Whatever you want to achieve, spending some time putting yourself in the place where you are feeling your goal being achieved will help you get there. Your challenge this month is to give it a try. Think of your goal, close your eyes and imagine what it will be like when you get to your goal, how will it feel and how will you celebrate?

Until next time.