Tiger Woods has actually admitted that he may never play full-time on the PGA Tour again in the serious injuries he sustained in a car crash. But he’ll return on the course this month for the first time since the February crash to compete in the PNC Championship, a family golf tournament with his son, Charlie.
Woods revealed his advice to Charlie after watching his son struggle on the golf course in an exclusive interview with Golf Digest. The advice applies to anyone who wants to perform their best, whether in sports or in business. The lesson is to be completely committed to the current moment.
When Woods was watching Charlie play, he noticed that one mistake would ruin the rest of Charlie’s round. Charlie, like any golfer, would be frustrated if he had a bad hole. “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 teaching Charlie the same lesson that had made him one of the greatest athletes of all time: a never-ending focus on the present.
This advice is not restricted to golf. You should think about it whenever you want to perform at your best, especially if you want to become a more confident public speaker.
As a CEO communication coach, I work with many leaders who spend their mental energy worrying about things they can’t control: the past and the future. If they are not completely focused on the present moment, it is obvious in their speeches and presentations.
When I see a speaker who is nervous, anxious, fumbling their words, or simply out of sorts, I notice that their anger grows with each mistake. They then do even worse and become even more frustrated. That’s when I inform them to take a break, take a step back from the presentation, 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 these statements takes the speaker out of the present moment: their focus is either on an uncontrollable future outcome or on something that happened in the past that continues to haunt them.
Your energy is directed toward whatever you focus on. According to Tiger Woods, the only thing that should matter is “the next shot.” That means you should give your total focus to the presentation you’re giving right now. Your full attention should be focused on the next slide. Keep your attention on the present moment, not on yesterday’s or two years ago’s presentation.
I understand that this is easier said than done. The same is true in golf. It’s simple to tell someone to forget their mistakes and focus on the next shot. It takes time and effort. On the golf course, I try to be positive about myself, but it doesn’t always work.
Tiger Woods stated that after giving this mental advice to his son, he began to play much better. Charlie was learning a habit that his father was known for: remaining calm under pressure. The only thing that matters right now is the speech or presentation you’re giving. Maintain your commitment, and your performance will shine.