Positively Delusional

My dad shared a great story with me that he read in Putting Out of Your Mind by Dr. Bob Rotella. It’s about Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer to ever play the game.

Jack was speaking at an event at which he said “I have never three-putted, or missed from inside five feet, on the final hole of a tournament.” For those of you who are not golfers, he was saying that when the pressure was at its greatest, on the final hole of a 72-hole tournament, he had never missed a putt he should have made (if you are a professional golfer, you shouldn’t miss from inside five feet, and you shouldn’t take more than two putts on any hole).

At question time a guy in the audience took Jack to task. He said that he was watching a recent tournament and that Jack Nicklaus missed a three-foot putt on the last hole.

Jack replied “Sir, you’re wrong. I have never three-putted, or missed from inside five feet, on the final hole of a tournament.” The audience member offered to send him a video tape. “No need to send me anything sir. I was there. I have never three-putted, or missed from inside five feet on the final green of a tournament.”

After the talk was over the audience member came up to Dr Rotella and asked “What’s wrong with Nicklaus? Why can’t he just admit it?”

Rotella asked the man if he played golf (he did) and what his handicap was (16 … an average weekend golfer) and whether if he missed a short putt on the last hole of a tournament he would remember it and admit it (of course).

Rotella then said to the man “So let me get this straight, you’re a sixteen handicapper, and Jack Nicklaus is the greatest golfer ever, and you want Jack to think like you?” The man had no answer.

I love this story. That Jack Nicklaus’ test for what to believe is not what’s true, but what’s useful. There is a whole philosophical debate we could get into about the nature of truth, which we won’t, but the point is we have a lot of beliefs – particularly about ourselves – that are very not useful. (Excuse the bad grammar, but you get the point.)

One of my positive delusions (that I may have chosen from Matt Church) is that I never cancel a program. Once I schedule a workshop, I’m not waiting to see if there are going to be enough people coming along to run it or not. If it’s scheduled, it’s on. It’s quite possible that someone might hear me say that and say wait a sec Pete, what about that program that I was registered back in the day that didn’t go ahead? At which point I would have to say, sir, you are wrong, I have never cancelled a program.

Love to hear your thoughts and experience. What are your positive delusions? You can leave your comments below.