What is the connection between your golf game, your emotional competence, and your ability to succeed at work?

Bill Pennington’s article In the June 13th, 2011 edition of the New York Times Sports Section, entitled “When Golfers Overthink: The Science Behind the Choke”, makes it very clear that EQ is indeed a contributing factor for anyone who plays golf.  Having a good set of readily available skills helps you navigate the potential negative “self talk” that might arise after a disappointing shot.   What’s more, the utilization of those skills is indeed a fine harbinger of the good score that lies ahead.  When implemented, the added advantage to the player is that the effort to constrain that blood flow to the amygdala can bring immediate gratification.  In essence, he states that “Why some golfers succeed in these moments and others do not has largely been left to pop psychology.  But in recent years, the awful truth – the choke – has met its scientific match”.

Pennington referenced research done by Sian Beilock, an associate professor at the University of Chicago with degrees in cognitive science, kinesiology and psychology.  She had put hundreds of athletes under duress and identified the anatomy of a choke.   Here are some of her findings:

Choking is not a lifetime curse. Experience at performing under pressure makes a significant difference.  Practicing under even mild pressure helps prepare you for the more intense version of a championship-winning or match-winning. When you’re faced with a pressure shot, distracting yourself from the task at hand is helpful. Performing quickly in pressure situations leads to more success.

She further states that,

It is not the pressure in a pressure situation that distracts us into performing poorly.  The pressure makes us worry and want to control our actions too much.  And you cannot think your way through a routine, practiced action, like making a 3-foot putt.

How does this translate in the work environment?

We may or may not be in “choke” situations at work, but our negative self-talk can certainly sabotage our efforts to perform to our potential. Research indicates that the higher our level of EQ, the more successful we will be.

Optimal performance is experienced when a worker executes the basics of their profession while simultaneously showing a high level of EQ. In his book Working with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman call this positive experience being in the “zone.” In their book The Power of Full Engagement, executive training program founders Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz reference this state as being in “flow.”

Bestselling author Daniel Goleman states:

The rules of work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yardstick: not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle each other and ourselves. The new rules predict who is most likely to become a star performer and who is most prone to derailing. The new measure takes for granted having enough intellectual ability and technical know-how to do our jobs; it focuses instead on personal qualities, such as initiative and empathy, adaptability and persuasiveness.

How can you improve your EQ to become a star performer on the golf course or at work?

One resource available is MYT Group LLC www.maximizeyourtalent.com.  They have a nationwide MYT Express™ Program launching on November 16th with a 3 hour webinar featuring renowned Stanford University professor Dr. Fred Luskin.  This session will be followed by a series of private coaching calls with MYT’s PH.D.’s.  All of the details can be garnered on their website and any additional questions can be answered by writing to them at myt@usa.net.