It is often said that the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday. However, an in depth look at some of 2017 winner Sergio Garcia’s quotes both past and present reveals that his victory was the culmination of a journey that started many years before. There is much that can be learned from watching the world’s best perform under the brightest lights. Here are three lessons we can apply in our own lives - whether athlete, coach, or leader.
1) It's never too late to change your mindset
April 8, 2012: "I'm not good enough ... I don't have the thing I need to have. In 13 years I've come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place...I'm not good enough. I had my chances and opportunities and I wasted them. I have no more options."
This was Garcia after a disheartening third round 75 at Augusta in 2012. His was a mindset that had eroded over the years after painful losses in multiple major championships. But Garcia’s tremendous growth was evident if you listened to him explain how he finally won a major after 73 unsuccessful attempts:
“Today I felt the calmest I’ve ever felt on a major Sunday. Even after a couple bogeys, I was still positive. I still believed.” With all the science we have now on the brain’s ability to change and rewire itself over time, we have more reason than ever before to believe that it’s never too late to change our mindset.
2) You must be willing to lose
As counterintuitive as this sounds, you’ll never play or lead with complete freedom unless you’re willing to miss, unless you’re willing to accept the consequences of making mistakes and potentially coming up short of your goal. There is power in this acceptance, and Garcia alluded to that power when describing how he used a new mindset to finally break through:
"Because of where my head was at, sometimes I did think, 'Am I ever going to win one?' I've had so many good chances and I've either lost them or somebody did something to beat me. So it did cross my mind, but lately I've been getting some good help. I've been thinking a little differently, more positively, and I've been more accepting, that if for whatever reason it didn't happen, my life is still going to go on. It's not going to be a disaster." Garcia again, on the power of acceptance: "When I came here in 1999 as an amateur, I felt like this golf course was probably going to give me at least one major. I won't lie, that thought changed. I became uncomfortable with the course. But I made peace with it, I accepted what Augusta gives and takes."
3) Don't underestimate the impact of your support system
I found it instructive that Saturday night, before he had even won the tournament, Garcia was giving credit to the team of people surrounding him - his family, his fiancee, her family, and the fresh, new perspective they brought him: "It definitely helps, there's no doubt about the background that the whole family has. Marty (fiancee Angela Akins’ father) is a very, very positive, outspoken and very, very confident kind of guy, and it definitely helps when he's encouraging you. Angela is the same way. They are all very competitive. They are positive..."
Akins supplied Garcia with motivational quotes and notes all week. We mustn’t undervalue the role of our support team, whether it's teammates, coaches, trainers, support staff, or our family. They all play a role in crafting the mindset we take into competition.