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Self Compassion Thoughts From Speedgolf King Christopher Smith (Breather Episode with Brad)

By Brad Kearns

My Speedgolf mentor Christopher Smith is the greatest Speedgolfer ever, a master of this crazy sport such that he has played countless rounds under par in under an hour. He is the Guinness World Record holder for the best Speedgolf score, 65 in 44 minutes in Chicago in 2005. He came thru under pressure of a film crew to shoot this amazing 68 in 53 minutes at the world renowned Bandon Dunes Golf Course.  Christopher writes a thoughtful newsletter at ChristopherSmithGolf.com with commentary that extends far beyond golf instruction into the philosophy of living a healthy, happy life and optimal golf experience. One of his key teaching principles is to “have compassion for your mistakes” out on the golf course. Oh man, during a playing lesson with him one day in Portland, he had to remind me of this idea several times on the occasions of my habitual verbal outbursts after bad shots! Most everything Christopher talks about in the golf context translates well into any other peak performance endeavor in life—pursuing an education, a career, being a parent, or pursuing any healthy eating or exercise goal.   Here is an excerpt from Christopher’s recent email newsletter:   Self-critic alive and well?  I understand, and so does Adam Phillips, English psychoanalytical writer. This self-critical part of ourselves, Phillips points out, is 'strikingly unimaginative' — a relentless complainer whose repertoire of tirades is so redundant as to become, to any objective observer, risible and tragic at the same time:  {Phillips quote}: Were we to meet this figure socially, as it were, this accusatory character, this internal critic, we would think there was something wrong with him. He would just be boring and cruel. We might think that something terrible had happened to him. That he was living in the aftermath, in the fallout of some catastrophe. And we would be right.”  Ouch man!! Could you say this stuff honors the theme of Get Over Yourself kinda sorta? If you can do it on the golf course, you can have a growth experience that translates into the rest of your life. Ditto if the self-critic is flourishing—what you do on the golf course are character-revealing insights that play out in all other areas of life. A great article in golfsouthwest.com quotes Tobias Schreiber, a licensed professional therapist in Augusta, GA: “Golf and business are both competitive arenas,” he says. “Any trait you see in a person repeatedly on the golf course is probably part of their personality and carries over into other aspects of their lives.”  Schreiber identifies a few golf course personality types in the article. See if you can relate to any of these: The Rager: “Rage is an infantile emotion — a primal defense against feelings of weakness,” Schreiber says. “Rageful people are actually age-regressing and acting out frozen emotions. Rage usually masks deeper feelings. Such people are often infuriated at their own sense of vulnerability and inadequacies.” Schreiber echoes another teaching principle of Christopher’s where you want to cultivate an optimal level of arousal and focus depending on your sport. Golf requires careful management of emotions at all times, unlike the more aggressive sports like fighting or endurance racing where you can just floor the gas pedal and excel. Schreiber explains that Ragers tend to do the same things, particularly to subordinates.   The Obsessor: Instead of outbursts, the obsessor internalizes things. Schreiber says, “They are not living in real time. Instead of shaking off a bad shot and moving on, obsessors tend to replay it again and again in their minds, chastising themselves for poor performance in a kind of mental self-flagellation. They focus on the negative. Golfers who ruminate about their play are likely to micromanage in a business environment. They don’t like to delegate because they fear no one can do the job right.”  The Sulker: “Sulkers don’t have a healthy view of themselves in relation to the natural frustrations of life. They tend to feel persecuted by the same minor problems that plague us all,” Mr. Schreiber says. “They exaggerate the importance of small things and focus on the negative. Sulkers really want sympathy and nurturing, but their behavior actually has the opposite effect. It pushes people away. This means they are fixated on the end results rather than enjoying the course, the camaraderie, and the weather. Golf, for them, becomes just another stressor.”  Here are some questions from Christopher as it pertains to your efforts on the golf course, or any other peak performance endeavor really:   1.  Did you do your very best (no - not just try - DO)?  Plan, focus as befits you, and give it your all?  Or, did you go at it half-assedly, 'hoping' the ball and the round were going to mythically cooperate?  2.  Did you trust and follow your gut, your instinct, your intuition - or did you abide by some supposed smarty-pants' rules, regulations & rigamarole?  3.  Why do you play the game in the first place?  Bragging rights are your low index?  Nourish the narcissist?  Or to relish the walk in the countryside (the golf course, people), the camaraderie, or the challenge to self?  If you not golfer please plug these insights into your role as a student or parent or career track. Oh mercy, when I was a college student I stressed about grades the whole time and took accounting courses I was not interested in because of the economic prospects. I lasted in my accounting career for only 11.5 weeks before quitting to pursue my dream as a triathlete. With my kids, both college students, I try hard to emphasize the importance of enjoying the educational journey and not stressing about grades or where one's career is headed before it even starts. For anything to do with parenting in today’s age of the helicopter parent/entitled child, it’s really helpful to ask yourself questions like these and listen to your intuition instead of caving into the measuring and judging forces of the modern world. Enjoy some exposure to the musings of Christopher Smith, with more feature-length podcasts coming soon with the Speedgolf King! 

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