During the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship, held in July at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Fox Sports Network did a side-by-side comparison and analysis of professional golfer Michelle Wie’s swing at 13-years-old and her swing today at age 27.1 Her swing in 2003 was a classic, almost textbook, swing. It was flawless. Surely even the most casual golf fan has noticed the steady progression of changes in her technique. Most notable is Wie’s “table top” putting stroke that many find near impossible to watch without cringing. When she withdrew from the championship tournament after hitting just one tee shot, citing neck pain, she made an appearance in the broadcast booth where she was shown and asked to comment on the comparison.
It could not have been easy for her to see such a stark departure from the swing she displayed as a teenage phenom vs the swing she now employs. “Wow, that swing was pre-injuries. You know, I’ve struggled through a lot, and I’ve had to kind of work my way around that. I don’t think really anyone has the same swing when they’re 13 as when they’re 27. And if I had my way, I’d definitely keep that swing. But I’ve had a lot of injuries along the way, and I had to work around them, unfortunately.”1
This got me thinking about the importance of adaptability — defined as the capacity to alter our responses to situations in unique ways to create different and more favorable outcomes. Adaptability encompasses the ability to learn from experience. And it requires a vast amount of self-awareness, including a willingness to look at, and face, the hard truths of situations at hand. In short, successful sales professionals embody a mixture of resilience, attentiveness, competence, and self-correction.
Think about it: in how many situations do you use the same approach over and over again? Where are you simply operating on “automatic” — you know, doing it the way you’ve always done it? Are you evaluating the results of your elevator pitch? Are you asking for feedback from colleagues whenever possible? Are you sitting down and looking at what’s working so you can do more of it? Are you evaluating what’s not working and actively working to eliminate it?
At the core of this skill is the realization that our brain wants to evaluate everything. Don’t let yourself be caught allowing your brain to default to the everything setting. Set your daily intentions to reflect on what JUST happened so that you’ve got an efficient and limited amount of data and experience to draw on. Then choose the response that will allow you to self-correct and move forward.
And here’s the most important advice I can give you — do not beat yourself up for anything you have or have not done. It will NOT change the past.
When I witnessed Wie analyze and comment on her side-by-side swing comparison, and listened to her remark that she has had to adapt to accommodate her injuries, I realized I’ve been trying to play with the same swing I’ve used for 25 years. Talk about operating on automatic. It truly never occurred to me that I could (or should) change my swing due to shoulder and neck injuries — but my game has deteriorated to the point where I absolutely must.
All this said, here is my challenge to you: Spend 30 minutes at the end of the week reflecting on what worked — and what didn’t work — each of the past seven days. Embrace these honest reflections to self correct, adapt, and move forward. Embark on the new week consciously living these corrections, and you will undoubtedly improve your performance — in all aspects of your life.
I leave you with this thought-provoking idea from Charles Darwin: It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
- Fox Sports Network. This is why Michelle Wie had to change her swing. Available at: foxsports.com/golf/video/998080579957. Accessed July 31, 2017.
From MENTOR. September 2017;8(9):6-7.