4 Essentials For Lasting Success, From The All-Time Greatest Pro Female Golfer
There's much we can learn from Annika Sörenstam, one of the best golfers in the history of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). And on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, it was difficult not to pepper her with rapid-fire questions like: How did you graduate from a "good" player to one of the "greats"? What are the most important fundamentals of golf? What was it like to earn a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame? (Don't worry; we do get to all those queries!)
But if we boil those questions down, one theme seems to stand out: sustainable success. There's a fine line between reaching your goals and making those achievements last—and Sörenstam is among the handful of individuals whose success truly withstands the test of time. Below, she explains what it took to reach that threshold:
1. Mental clarity
"The longest distance in golf is between your ears," Sörenstam notes. It's advice you can translate to all facets of life, not just with sports—you can't expect to excel with a foggy, cluttered mind.
According to Sörenstam, the way to truly achieve is to focus on what's in front of you: "The most important shot is the now shot—not the one you hit half an hour ago, not the one you're going to hit in 30 minutes," she says. "Being present in that moment is so important in golf." (And we'd argue the importance of presence spans across industries.)
So as you're climbing the ladder to success, put your blinders on, so to speak—focus on your own journey, and trust yourself in the process. She adds, "When we do any sport or anything in life, when there's tension, it makes it a lot harder. The top players are very good at just focusing on what they have to do now. They're disciplined, and they don't let all the clutter from elsewhere get into their concentration bubble."
On a similar note, imagine what you want your success to look like—because then you'll make it happen. Really visualize it with all of your senses: What do you see? What do you hear? What does it feel like? In the context of golf, "I know what it's supposed to feel like to hit a good shot," Sörenstam says. "And I always tell people to just hear the claps, hear the ball go in. You're using all your senses to create that positive feeling and the atmosphere that you need."
Additionally, Sörenstam visualizes moments of success she can refer back to as she's playing—a "mind library of good shots," as she calls it. "In 2003 at the British Open, I had a really tough drive, probably the best drive I ever hit," she recounts. "When I hit a drive today, I somehow make my mind go back to that British Open in 2003. And it just gives me this cool feeling, like I can do it."
Yes, a portion of success is pure skill, but you can't expect to instantly reach the pinnacle without honing your craft.
For Sörenstam, preparation is crucial: "I was very cautious how to prepare for a tournament, [including] fitness, sleeping, eating right, and drinking the right things," she explains. "The preparation I think gave me a little bit of an edge, knowing that I had done everything I could. It's almost like when you study for a test and people [cram] 10 minutes before class—it doesn't work that way. You have to do the preparation."
Translation: Natural talent may help you reach the top, but it takes constant work to make that success truly last. And the prep work is never completely done, even once you've "made it."
If there was an overarching theme to Sörenstam's success, it would be commitment. Dedication, determination, whatever you want to call it—according to Sörenstam, commitment on every level is downright essential.
"It's the repetitiveness day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year that you really commit to yourself," she says. Grit, if you will. She continues: "I'm not six foot tall. I'm not the strongest out there...[but] I was very disciplined and scheduled, and for me to be able to do that so regularly helped me be successful for a long time."
Furthermore, you can't just commit for a couple of weeks or months—results come from everyday, ongoing dedication. "My dad told me early on that there are no shortcuts to success," she adds. "And all the things I do now, whether it's working for [the ANNIKA Foundation], designing golf courses, to clothing design. I've put literally my heart and soul into it because I know hard work and commitment can give results."
For sustainable, long-lasting success, Sörenstam says it takes a delicate balance of mental clarity and visualization, with constant preparation and determination. A formula, if you will, that transcends golf and applies to practically any life goal you've got.
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