Tiger Woods has pretty much conceded that he may never play full-time on the PGA Tour again after the serious injuries he sustained in a car crash. But this month he will return to the course for the first time since the February crash to play in the PNC Championship, a family golf tournament with his son, Charlie.
In an exclusive interview with Golf Digest, Woods revealed the advice he offered to Charlie after watching his son struggle on the golf course. The tip applies to anyone who wants to perform their best--in sports or in business.
The lesson: Be 100 percent committed to the present.
Woods said that when he watched Charlie play, he noticed that one mistake would ruin the rest of Charlie's round. If he had a bad hole, Charlie, like any golfer, would get mad at himself. "His temper carries over into another shot, another shot, another shot, and compounds itself," Woods observed.
Woods then told Charlie, "Son, I don't care how mad you get. Your head could blow off for all I care, just as long as you're 100 percent committed to the next shot. That next shot should be the most important shot in your life. It should be more important than breathing."
Woods was offering Charlie a lesson that had made him one of the greatest athletes in history--a relentless focus on the present.
This tip doesn't just apply to golf. You should consider it any time you want to perform your best, especially if you'd like to become a more confident public speaker.
As a CEO communication coach, I work with many leaders who waste mental energy on things they can't control: the past and the future. If they're not 100 percent focused on the present, it shows in their speeches and presentations.
When I see that a speaker is nervous, anxious, fumbling their words, or simply out of sorts, I notice that their anger grows with every mistake. Then, they do worse and grow even more frustrated. That's when I encourage them to take a break, step back from the presentation for a moment and reflect.
When I ask them what's wrong, I often hear comments like:
I worked for a boss who was very critical of my presentations and I still think about that experience.
I lost my place in my last presentation. I got nervous and really fumbled the rest of it."
If I fail to win over investors, my company might be in trouble.
I was told I'm not a good public speaker.
Each of statements takes the speaker out of the present moment: their focus is either on a future outcome they can't control or something that happened in the past that continues to haunt them.
Your energy goes to what you focus on. The only thing that should matter--like Tiger Woods told his son--is "the next shot." That means the presentation you're delivering now should take 100 percent of your focus. Your next slide should consume 100 percent of your attention. Stay focused on the present, not on yesterday's presentation or the one you fumbled two years ago.
I know this is easier said than done. It's the same in golf, too. It's easy to tell someone to forget about their mistakes and to focus on the next shot. It takes practice. I try to talk positively to myself on the golf course, and it doesn't always work. But eventually the philosophy begins to take hold.
Tiger Woods said that after he offered his son this mental advice, he began to play much better. Charlie was learning to build a habit that his dad was known for--staying calm under pressure.
The only thing that matters is the speech or presentation you're giving at the moment. Stay 100 percent committed to it and your performance will shine.