Why Mental Clarity Is The Key To Success, From A Former Professional Golfer
"The longest distance in golf is between your ears," notes former professional golfer Annika Sörenstam. It's not something you'd expect to hear from one of the best golfers in the history of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA)—perhaps you'd expect a word on technique or grip—but it's sound advice all the same. After all, excelling at a sport, or anything, for that matter, takes some mental prowess. That's why on a special episode of the mindbodygreen podcast with early release to guests of the Lexus Retreats in Motion program, Sörenstam discusses mental health and clarity as it relates to her journey with golf, and how both helped earn her place in the World Golf Hall of Fame. "You need the mind and the body to work together. When you can see a shot, you can feel the shot. It makes it easier to execute. It's just believing in yourself and not being afraid."
Sign up for one of the Lexus Retreats in Motion programs, and you'll be the first to hear how this star golfer uses all of her senses to get the perfect shot, how to cultivate a strong work ethic for success, as well as how she has remained driven and motivated during times of mental duress (which strikes a chord especially now, amid the pandemic).
You'll hear what it takes to graduate from a "good" player to one of the "greats": "When we do any sport or anything in life, when there's tension, it makes it a lot harder," she explains. "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." Most importantly, though, they've got grit—the final "piece of the puzzle," Sörenstam notes, that's essential for reaching success. "There are so many great athletes out there with physical skills and work ethic, but that's where the mental aspect comes in."
You'll also learn how she prepared for her many, many tournaments and why creating a routine is essential. "It was all about creating an environment in my mind where I was ready. I didn't have any clutter—I was just totally focused." That includes day-of mental preparation, sure, but she also touches on the importance of nutrition, fitness, and sleep for optimal performance. Specifically, she stays away from refined sugar—she's the self-anointed "sugar police" in her household—and focuses on eating a whole, balanced diet. "It's almost like when you practice for a test, and people read 10 minutes before class," she explains. "It doesn't work that way." And Sörenstam's no crammer: "I think it gave me a little bit of an edge, knowing that I had done everything I could [to succeed]."
She chats about some of the greatest life lessons she's translated into her life after golf, including commitment, confidence ("Golf has given me the confidence to be able to achieve," she notes), extreme focus, and the power of believing in herself. But her one piece of advice to stand out in your field? "Live up to every single day," she concludes. "I don't mind putting in the hard work to get something done. I don't mind getting my hands dirty or breaking a nail to do something. That's what it takes." If Sörenstam's success has anything to show for it, it all certainly pays off.
Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth. He has been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Vogue, and has a B.A. in history from Columbia University, where he played varsity basketball for four years.