Improving vs. Learning

The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
Albert Einstein

If you are living, you are learning. And the more curious you are as you are living the more you will be learning. Let’s explore the concept of learning in regards to our golf practice and our golf game. Most people play golf with a desire of improving – simply because it makes the game more fun and more satisfying. Let’s reflect on what happens if we replace the word improving with the word learning in regards to our golf game. Webster’s dictionary definition of “improving” is “reconstructing, repairing, elaborating, bettering, correcting, developing, remodeling, fixing, on the mend.” The dictionary definition of “learning” is simply “the acquiring of knowledge or skill.”

While reading the definition of improving, did you get the impression of fixing something that is wrong? Did you get the impression that you have to work at improvement? Read the two definitions again and sense the distinction. Did you get a sense of ease and simplicity reading the definition of learning? 

Can you accept the premise that curiosity will lead to learning? Can you accept the premise that learning will automatically lead to improvement? 

The intention you bring to your golf practice is the most important component of your golf practice. The traditional and conventional mindset conditions us so that a common intention for our golf practice is to practice long and hard, and that we must practice a mechanically repeatable golf swing in order to improve our golf game. Do you get the sense of effort this intention conveys? What if you embraced the intention of having fun in your golf practice, and a mindset of allowing learning to just happen as the result of your various experiences? Again, can you accept the premise that curiosity leads to learning, and that learning will automatically lead to improvement? Can you sense the ease and simplicity this concept conveys? You can read more about this alternative mindset in the Instinctive Golf Blogs on this site: the February 2020 Blog Golf Practice, Play….and Learning and the March 2020 Blog The Art of Play and Learning.

If we go back to the definition of learning, “the acquisition of knowledge or skill,” it may bring us to the basic question of, “Just how do I acquire knowledge or skill?!?” Are we born with knowledge or skill, specifically how to play golf effectively? Obviously not. We are born with potential. But, how do we activate, use and develop potential? Simply through experience! And if we inject awareness into our experiences, we deepen the effectiveness of our experiences to assist in revealing our potential. As I often repeat in these Blogs, our mind does not control our golf swing, it is our subconscious body/mind that expresses what we have learned through our experiences, our trials and errors, and our exploration and self-discovery. I’m often led back to the philosophy and quote of PGA Master professional Michael Hebron regarding golf improvement, “There are no mistakes, only learning.” 

We can’t force potential to develop, but we can cultivate the expression of our golf potential through a variety of experiences, such as the instinct-awakening golf exercises found in Awaken Your Inner Golfer. The exercises encourage the innate intelligence and adaptability of our body/mind to unconsciously integrate and remember the successful movements in our golf swing that lead to effective golf shots and discard the unproductive movements in our golf swing leading to the “clunkers.” This is how we learn – through curiosity, trial and error, and awareness.

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
Albert Einstein

Creativity opens the doors of our mind to clarify our perspectives. It is through our creativity that we discover the effectiveness of simplicity. It could be said that the opposite of creativity is regurgitation. This is where I believe the traditional golf instruction industry has gone astray – much as a result of the prevalence of technology. 

Do you think Albert Einstein played golf?! I doubt it. But, he had uncanny intellectual and instinctual insight about learning. I will leave it up to you to discern if the following quote might apply to today’s technological golf instruction. Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  The “tech-no-logic” golf instruction model seems to deprecate, minimize and belittle the human concept of learning through experience in favor of the attempted regurgitation of instruction and a “model” golf swing. 

The only source of knowledge is experience.
Albert Einstein

I would venture to guess that most golfers actually do not have a golf practice, and that they don’t practice because practice is experienced as “work” producing little improvement. To those golfers who do not experience any improvement in their golf practice, I would suggest implementing a common business and personal growth maxim of, “If something is not working, try something different.” You may not be improving because you are practicing in order to improve. If you practice in order to learn, you will be inviting the experience of self-discovery, joy and improvement. The best way to learn is to have fun – as every child can teach us if we are willing to learn through observation and awareness! May your new intention for your golf practice be to embrace play, fun, exploration and self-discovery, allow learning to just happen, and allow improvement to almost magically appear!

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