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GARY PLAYER ON TRANSLATING MASTERY OF GOLF INTO MASTERY OF LIFE

How do you become world-class at something? Do you find yourself building a career as a soloist? Have you faced adversity and don’t know how to move past it? Struggle to find time to improve your physical or mental fitness? Want to know the role of love in your career?

If you’re curious about or relate to any of these ideas, come along with me as we talk to golf legend Gary Player, aka “The Black Knight.”

Admittedly, I’m not a golf fan, but I am a fan of hard work, dedication, mastery, and the unexpected lessons we can translate from one arena to another.

So, I sat down with Gary Player to see what we can learn from his success.

Golf is an inherently individual sport. What’s your advice for anyone in a career where their success weighs heavily on their independent performance?

Success begins with what’s inside a person. How badly do they want it? How hard are they prepared to work? Golf is no doubt a very lonely game. And the same can be said for a number of other sports, as well as business. In the end, you can’t rely on others too much. Sure, you may need help along the way, whether it’s advice or encouragement. But in the end, success falls mostly on the individual.

Of course, there will be “naysayers” who try to put you down. Really, it’s up to the individual to rise above and overcome any adversity that stands between him and success.

Please share about one professional relationship you’ve had where the outcomes of your efforts together were multiplied exponentially beyond your ability to do so alone. What did you learn from that?

My first manager, and the man who basically invented sports management through IMG – Mark McCormack – was instrumental to my success on and off the golf course. He was a visionary, who saw that sports figures should be able to capitalize on their persona through endorsements and being a spokesperson for companies and other brands.

All of our talent is on loan. I’ve seen so many golfers over the years who woke up one day and could not even make a cut anymore. So, Mark taught me how important it is to capitalize on your success in the moment. Don’t wait around for tomorrow. Get your deal done. And here I am in my 83rd year, still representing global companies like Rolex, SAP and Berenberg, and building my own brand along the way.

You’ve talked about how success is 10% preparation and 90% mental fortitude. How does one defeat her own insecurities and increase his or her mental fitness?

For me, it was overcoming adversity at an early age. My mother died of cancer when I was young. At the same time, my brother went to war, my sister was at boarding school, and I seldom saw my father as he was working his tail off 8000 feet underground in the gold mines.

But that made me stronger. I taught myself to be independent. I worked hard on my golf game, but even harder on my mind. I remember being in my hotel room, looking in the mirror, slapping myself and repeatedly saying ‘You are a champion!’, ‘Have guts!’, ‘Prove yourself!’, ‘Be patient!’

Known as “The World’s Most Traveled Athlete” ™. To date, Gary Player has traveled more than 28 million air kilometers around the world during his 65-year career.

Known as “The World’s Most Traveled Athlete” ™. To date, Gary Player has traveled more than 28 million air kilometers around the world during his 65-year career.

You went through a tragedy early on in your life, around age 8. How did that propel you forward, and what can others learn from this when they face adversity?

The world does not owe anyone anything. It’s how you respond to life which determines your successes. After my mother died from cancer, and there was no one to really look after me, I could have – probably should have – gone down a dark path.

I remember my mother lying on that hospital bed. She got a call from a friend (who knew she was sick) and she asked how my mother was feeling. To my surprise, she said ‘I feel fantastic!’ When she hung up the phone, I just looked at her in disbelief. But the words she said next ring in my head every day. She said, ‘Gary, don’t put your problems on somebody else; they have enough of their own.’

Face adversity head-on with tenacity, determination and grit. You will be a better person for it.

 

Article courtesy of Forbes

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