Passionate Pursuit and How Champions Think


In Bob Rotella’s book, How Champions Think, recently described in the Wall Street Journal article, The Golf Whisperer, June 17, 2015, I found many parallels to my passionate pursuit of oil painting.  “His advice does not sound earth-shattering. It’s straight-forward and simple.” Here’s a list from WSJ and Rotella with some illumination or illustration from my path to oil painting:

  • Be optimistic and confident. Believe in your talent. Remember the first time you picked up a golf club, a basketball or a paint brush? Did you save the first still life you painted, like a milestone marker along the path?  You know with practice, determination and persistence, you can improve and tap into your talents.
  • Do visualization exercises in the same way you practice your three-pointers or bunker shots. Let the subconscious brain do the work – “train it and trust it”Place the painting-in-progress across the room. Stop painting on it. Look at the painting; ask yourself, what does the painting need? What is it telling you? Sleep overnight; wake up and look at the painting again. What does the painting need? Or did your subconscious already figure out the answer?
  • Forget mistakes and failures: treat them like accidents. Paint a lot of paintings. It takes ten years of painting to become an oil painter. You will produce a few rare gems along the way of producing scrap, just like a factory manufacturing semiconductors. Forget mistakes and failures: treat them like accidents.
  • Commit to working hard – “sweat in practice so you don’t bleed in the game”. Every day matters. What have you done today towards your craft or passionate pursuit? Did I sketch, draw, paint, visit a museum or read about art today?
  • Love the great days more than you hate the bad days. Under-react to everything.
  • Be patient with yourself and impatient with the limits others place on you. Surround yourself with positive people. Seek out allies and supporters who lift you up in your pursuit without over-inflating your ego. Spend time with people who share mentoring comments, tips and pass on best practices. Seek out the ones who pay it forward; then do the same.
  • Do what you love and love what you do.What a gift to find something you love to do and that energizes you and gives you pleasure from the act of doing. This is a form of personal freedom.
  • Luck affects outcomes, but it doesn’t affect effort. No matter how other people judge your work, keep painting. Create a body of work that expresses your intentions.

“Ninety percent of the game is half mental”, said Yogi Berra. Do the math. Read Rotella, the golf whisperer for insight into your passionate pursuit.


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