Can happiness impact performance? Former Professional golfer and President of New Edge Performance, John Haime explains how putting enjoyment before achievement can maximise performance.

 

Sometimes things get fuzzy in sports and a reset is exactly what you need.

Very often my phone will ring, or I’ll get an “emergency” text and an athlete client will be in a funk. Their focus unconsciously shifts to the many distractions around them – often to things they have no control over. Alternatively, an obsession starts with the outcome and the enjoyment disappears. From here, everything becomes difficult and the game becomes tedious. The spiral downward starts…

In my business, it’s all about achievement, reaching higher and getting to the next level. If I don’t generate the results for a client, and help them pull the potential out, I’m out of a job. And, that’s the way it should be – I’m in the high performance business.

The tricky part here is that, funny enough, focusing on the achievement is not the best way to go about elevating performance.

 

Let me explain…

In order to get to a high level of performance and reach targets set, there are two primary areas that are important to elevate performance and sustain it. I always refer to enjoyment as the first cog in the wheel and achievement as the second cog. And, the order is quite important because enjoyment is always a key to sustainable high performance. Can you succeed without it? Yes, for a short period. But, over time, when enjoyment is not at the centre of performance, I get the call like I mentioned above. The game isn’t fun, frustration sets in, the spiral downward begins, and results plummet.

From a young age, many football players pursue achievement so aggressively and persistently that they actually forget about the enjoyment part. They assume that if they seek achievement – and get it – enjoyment will just follow automatically. But it’s not quite that simple.

I was a direct victim of the enjoyment vs achievement phenomena when I played professional golf. I would practice as hard and long as I could to get better, continually pursuing golf perfection that I thought was needed to play professional golf. I slowly slipped into a state of misery, not knowing that enjoyment might be important in having a sustainable professional golf career. In retrospect, if I focused more on seeking enjoyment in the game and really enjoyed the journey, and put a central focus on the real reason why I was playing the game, because I loved it and it was fun, and created a plan around that, career results may have been significantly different. I blindly pursued achievement, but forgot about enjoyment.

So what does that mean for you?

You might consider your perspective of enjoyment and achievement and try shifting the enjoyment to the forefront of your football experience – no matter what your level. Think about why you play or why you coach? Is it to enjoy the game, achieve something or both? For almost all of us it is both. If it is for you, remember the order of importance and that enjoyment will support the achievement and not the other way around. Making enjoyment a priority will very much help in your pursuit of achievement and reaching your potential in the game. Putting achievement first may not help you maximize your football experience and could put you on a path where your original purpose (your love of the game) may get lost in the shuffle.

So, go ahead and achieve something in the game. Have a plan, work hard and make progress. But, don’t lose sight of enjoying the game and your purpose for playing it. If you focus on this balance, sustainable achievement will be possible and you’ll maximize your time in the game.

This is transferable to everything you do. The more you enjoy something, often the better you’ll do!

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