The U.S. Open was another wonderful laboratory related to the psychology of performance. Rory McIlroy became the youngest winner of the Open since Bobby Jones in 1923. He is younger than Jack Nicklaus when Nicklaus won the first of his 18 major titles, and he is just nine months older than Tiger Woods was when Woods won his first major championship, the Masters, in 1997.

In total this week, McIlroy set 12 U.S. Open records, including lowest score for a 36-hole and 54-hole leader. It took him only 26 holes to reach double digits under par, the earliest ever. He was only the seventh champion to lead wire-to-wire.

The most important psychological element of this moment in performance was McIlory’s review and taking of personal responsibility for his “meltdown” and score of 80 in the final round of the Masters tournament after leading it a few weeks ago. He reviewed what he had done poorly, took responsibility for it, and made the changes he needed to. The golf world was waiting to see if he would repeat his performance at the Masters with another deterioration of performance in the Open after taking a commanding lead. McIlory had done what he needed to in order to improve his resiliency and manage the pressure. In golf, there is no one else to blame for performance, just yourself. If you don’t prepare psychologically, it is clear that one’s physical gifts are not enough.

How often do managers run into situations where someone has blamed them or just about everyone and everything else besides themselves when they underperform? Those who do not take the time to evaluate their assumptions, their self-talk, problem solving skills, content expertise, stress management skills, and so forth and “get better” are doomed to repeat their poor performances.

Have a day filled with “personal responsibility”,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist