“Free will is the greatest gift anyone could have given us. It means we can, in a real sense, control our own lives.” – Dr. Bob Rotella in “Golf is not a game of perfect”
Many people will read this quote and either step into dreaming that it would be great if it was possible. Others will immediately start to explain why it can’t be. Both may be subject to the idea that there are too many things they can’t change and that they are dependent on them.
It’s the desire for the perfect circumstances and one’s own perfection as the means to become able to control one’s life.
Carol Dweck is someone who studies “the self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behavior.” Her work shows how our view of ourselves can shape us, that is how we become our thoughts.
Someone who constantly seeks to prove himself correct over and over may be stuck with the belief that his qualities are unchangeable. Or he doesn’t see how to learn from his mistakes, nor how to envision himself doing things differently. Carol Dweck describes it as a fixed mindset.
It’s a mindset that falls into the trap of the now. The result needs to be delivered in the instant, it can’t wait. It’s also a mindset that depends on the validation of the result. It’s what we learned at school by assuming that achieving A’s was the goal.
It’s a path on which events control the way we think. Something happens and we need to react “correctly” to it.
But that’s not what controlling our own lives is about.
It’s about learning to “take control of our thoughts and use them to influence events” as Bob Rotella describes it.
It starts with changing at least some of our beliefs and developing the ability to trust in what we do.
It includes being clear about our goals and integrating them in the way we react to a situation.
Playing golf it’s as “easy” as having the smallest possible target for our next shot, a strategy for playing that shot, and trust in our swing. The rest will be achieved by the practice we’ve done until then.
Free will is our ability to focus on exactly that and to start all over again whenever we failed.