Today, in the worlds of mental performance and self-help, it seems like everyone has a strategy. If you’re reading this article, you probably know that bigger and better strategies are introduced on a daily basis. Yet, here’s something that’s almost always overlooked when it comes to strategies that seem to work: They’re a byproduct of understanding (i.e., wisdom, knowledge, or instinct). Meaning: Without understanding, strategy falls apart. Or, a said a different way, it’s understanding, not strategy, that causes excellence. That’s why the multitude of people who bypass understanding and go straight to some strategy that they find in a book, see on TV, or copy from a coach or advisor, ultimately struggle to find excellence.
To illustrate, when it comes to the sport of golf, no strategy is more widespread than the “pre-shot routine.” This strategy—designed to fend off nerves, control feelings of pressure, and thus hit desired shots—is pretty much a staple at all levels of the game. However, in the history of golf, a pre-shot routine has never caused a desired shot. Not once. What does? Well, relative to talent: understanding. Understanding that all feelings are normal and no feeling is superior to another. Players with understanding may indeed go through pre-shot routines. Instinctive routines, that is. On the other hand, players who, void of understanding, execute pre-shot routines in an unnecessary quest to fix feelings or cope, tend to jam instinct (programming behavior always does) which prevents wisdom from rising up and excellence from occurring.
Last thing: Don’t be fooled by the short-term results that may appear to come from adopting someone else’s strategy as your own. Correlation does not equal causation. The foundation of excellence is, and always will be, understanding. And the more strategy you intentionally put into practice, the more you obstruct understanding.
It’s a one-way street. From understanding, great strategy is born. This formula, however, never works in reverse.
Thanks for reading, Garret