In my program called, The FlowZone, I teach that a mental game is not only part of your game...it IS your game. The 36th Ryder Cup matches close amidst a swirl of controversy about the performance of the American team and how the process for selecting a team should proceed in the future. To me, this Ryder Cup is another indication of the power and presence an inner game has on performance. This event is not purely about talent. All involved are talented. Its as much about building a team that can generate positive energy and a strong sense of unification as it is talent. Success in any group or team venture is generated from this and it begins within the individual.
Here are some thoughts about lessons gained:
1. Getting Clear
For some reason we have an obsession with points and rankings and in doing so may not pay attention to what is most effective when building a team. What type of team is best suited for the course being played? What type of individuals will create the best possible unity and positive energy needed to be successful? These are basic questions that I believe must be asked up front. Besides recent Ryder Cup difficulties we have historical evidence that the best players dont always make the best team. Here are 2 examples:
Team USA Hockey: The 1980 Olympics
Coach Herb Brooks decided to put together the players he believed would create the best TEAM. These were not all the best hockey players in the country and the U.S. Olympic Committee did not agree with him and argued against it. They wanted the best hockey players to play. He stuck to his guns and chose the individuals he believed would be the best fit with each other and with the concept he wanted to build.
Team USA: Basketball
America discovered that putting together the best players in the country didnt necessarily mean having the greatest team. They learned that the hard way. The best players are now chosen because of their individual talents and ability to work together while meeting the overall concept. The coach provides the concept and direction and the team is chosen based on filling those needs.
I realize that golf is not hockey or basketball, however, generating high positive energy, building a deeper trust and reliance upon each other are aspects that still count for something in a Ryder Cup event.
2. The Point System
I believe the current points system is not the most effective way to base putting a team together. A player can build his points up early in the year and maintain a solid position on the rating but might not be the best choice come Ryder Cup time. The competitive focus on which the point system is built is great and maybe the first 5 point leaders have an automatic berth but I also believe the captain should have final say on team members based on performance and the needs of the team. Do the highest points translate to the best team?
3. The Best ChoiceRight Now
As Brian Hewitt wrote in his article on The Golf Channel website (titled See See Ryder: A Primer) there are players who are playing well right now who could have been considered for selection (Hewitt mentions Shaun Micheel and Steve Stricker as examples). Rather than going only by earned points, the captain could have the option of choosing the best players that fit the type of team they want to field. This would be a major change in approach.
4. A Team Concept: The Psychology of Performance
From observation it still appears to me that the European team looks, acts and feels more like a team. Team USA looks, acts and feels more like individuals trying to be a team. This is not a criticism of the American team members or its captain. This does not mean they dont care. Far from it. Im sure Team USA cares plenty but the system under which they are put together needs to be reviewed. We know things are different on the American Tour than on the European Tour. There, the tour is smaller, players are in closer proximity to each other often staying at the same hotels, going to eat together and as a result build friendly relationships, and it shows come Ryder Cup time. The American Tour is not like that for a variety of reasons, however, if we are clear about the team makeup, which players best suit the course and complement the team makeup, the team is stronger. This creates a more unified feeling and camaraderie which psychologically feeds on itself in a very positive way. There is no denying the power of an inner game as it translates into an outer game.
The First Performance Law
If youve read my articles in the past you know that the focus of the FlowZone approach is on the cause and effect Performance Laws that influence everyone, everywhere and at all times. These laws are clear, predictable and undeniable. The first law has to do with receptivity to change. It states:
The more honest you are with yourself, the quicker you get what you want.
This means you can change what you are willing to see. It also means that you will have a more difficult time changing what you are not willing to see. When we are not willing to be honest, we may find ourselves doing the same thing over and over again yet producing the same ineffective outcomes. This cause and effect law is undeniable and it holds true for individuals and for organizations. I hope we can take an honest look and see whats working and what is not and use this valuable information to move forward.
Are we ready for the change?