A new Epson Tour season is upon us. In a week, we will walk away from our competitive vacation and get the ball rolling. Those of us who play the game for a living like to think of it as a fresh start; a clean scorecard to write a new story. We have the opportunity to flip the script on what didn’t work last year and draw a dash on the deeds that did. Regardless, we’ll pivot, jump, spin and hopefully dunk a few throughout the year.
But as much as we’d like to plan to perfection, uncertainty is one of the top traits of this job description.
Many of us have a long list of goals – short- and long-term. I can tell you that there is not a single player who isn’t jotting down “Earn LPGA Tour Card” at the top of their list. Wanting to be on the LPGA Tour is more than a goal; it’s like a disease that lives in us for the 10-month season. Some of us convince ourselves that, once we make it, all our problems will be solved. Full transparency: I have fallen into the trap of this terrible thinking many times before.
However, earlier this week, I was reminded of the real trophy we should seek through every trial and tribulation - growth.
My sophomore year of high school, I read two books that changed my life - Burn Your Goals by Joshua Medcalf and Mindset by Carol Dweck. They each had very different perspectives, but one underlying theme remained: growth. Goals are not the goals: growth is.
Nearly 10 years removed from reading those books, I discovered an article, “The Paradox of Goals.” Like a movie, my mind rewound to my 14-year-old self. The article highlighted the concept that when we focus on our goals, there is minimal room for growth, because we are always either succeeding or failing. We are trying to charge to the finish line; to find that short-term high that comes with winning while avoiding the deflating low of failure. As a result, there is no feedback for growth.
If you live by the mantra, “when I get X then I’ll be happy,” you will find that getting X doesn’t really change much.
Anson Durrance, the women’s soccer coach at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina, gives his players roses when they win an NCAA championship. The roses symbolize the victory. Players enjoy them for a few days but then they’ll die. After that, life returns to normal. We get back to work. The real victory is finding happiness, fulfillment and personal growth in the process.
I bring this up in my own Epson Tour journey because I think we all can get caught up keeping our eyes on the goal and distracted from the process that will not only achieve the goal but promote personal growth.
We all want to reach the LPGA Tour. We’re constantly reminded of this goal. The Epson Tour tagline is “Road to the LPGA.” Wherever we practice in the off season, members will ask about the process and the prospects for earning a tour card. One of the frequent questions is: “So, what are the steps to get through to the tour?” The answer is always complex as there are multiple ways to earn LPGA Tour status. However, most people are seeking the standard answer. “Well, I can either finish top 10 on the Epson Tour Money List or top-45 at Q-Series.”
It’s all laid out - our road to the LPGA. What I’ve learned as I enter my third year on that road is that the people who achieve their goals and find true success are the ones who can put blinders on and focus on the day-to-day process. For them, the goals go away, and the focus becomes strengthening the heart, mind and soul.
Success comes when we let go of the live-or-die moment-by-moment goals and do what we can to grow and get better every day. That is how we find victory before the victory. That is true fulfillment.
As I get ready to run the race this season, I’ll have my blinders on like Secretariat running the Kentucky Derby. I’ll be ready when the gun goes off on Friday. But I’ll be galloping for growth as I make my rounds this year. Maybe then, I’ll find a special card in my hand, but a larger triumph in my heart.