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Where Leadership Coaching and Mental Coaching Connect

"The commitment to work with this mental coach is a sign that the pro golfer understands that talent and skill alone will not get you where you want to go. The intelligent engagement of the brain-mind will move you past those that insist that the game is about the swing and the putt... ​All skill being equal, smart gives you the competitive  advantage." - Coach Doug Goffman

Structured Routine
Building Momentum
Mental Rehearsals
Visual Representations
Deliberate Practice
Planning and Organization
Didactic Learning

SMART WINS: The Cognitive Performance Coaching Edge

Golfing 3.jpg

Sounds complex... It is really quite simple.  The components above interact, forming a kind of developmental tapestry... that builds and evolves organically.  The professional golfer who embraces The CPC Edge, begins to see results in the short-term and significant gains in the long-term.   The principles are intelligent and inextricably connected.   ​Take it from me; Cognitive Performance Coach Doug Goffman

"There is no doubt in my mind that Smart Wins.  I suppose it is possible that on occasion, golfers win with luck and happenstance.  With the number of decisions a golf makes on each round, making good ones is key." Nobel author Daniel Kahneman writes, in Thinking Fast and Slow, about the dilemma that this dichotomy represents.  Fast thinking is often incorrect thinking... and slow thinking can often be characterized by what he calls, lazy thinking or cognitive ease.  Which club to pull when hitting into a headwind... which wedge to use when extricating a challenging lie that has fallen to the ground in 4 inch deep rough... cut the corner on a dogleg right over the trees... the straightest line to the green, but with a sizable risk... front pin over water... play a little long to be safe or go for it, risking the hazard... and so it goes. so... as for strategy... smart wins for sure.  


But what does smart really mean?  Sign on and we can put your brain in motion.

Golf Coaching: A Natural Fit

To your right is the famous clubhouse at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  
I had the privilege of playing that course repeatedly a few years back.  It was mystifying.  
I would purposely show up a few hours before my tee time so I could walk through the hallowed hallways... pictures of golf's legends on every wall. After the round, I would sip pinot noir seated on those iconic Adirondack chairs facing the ocean, alongside the giant Rolex clock.  


​Rory won the PGA here in 2012... wonder if he sat in that same chair. When my book, GOLF fund MENTAL is published, it will feature a few cherished photos on the cover.  Those are my pictures.  I’ve also played Pebble, Torrey, Bandon, TPC Scottsdale, Harbortown, Bethpage Black…   I am an avid golfer.  I shoot my age often….73 and counting... the older I get, the easier it becomes... get it? and while golf is one of my passions, my first passion is coaching.

I’m a coach.  I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people become smarter and better.  The profession or line of work that my clients engage in is less important than how well they think; how intentional they are about learning, changing, and growing; how motivated they are to engage seriously with this coach.  Those who work hard at this succeed in sense-making: understanding all of the intricacies and subtleties that relate to how they function at the highest level in their chosen field… strategies that support improved performance;  processes that enhance thinking and decision-making… It is simply about getting better and smarter.  

I do most of my coaching these days in my office.  I'm surrounded by four to five hundred books on two towering bookshelves... with another hundred actually on an L-shaped desk.  On the wall over a gray leather sofa is this picture.  A view from the 15th tee at Turtle Point, a Jack Nicklaus design.  I get some inspiration each day swiveling from my desk, able to look out into the Atlantic Ocean from a tee box remembering that I took that picture either before or after hitting a drive on a relatively short par four.  I would often fade the ball out over the beach and bring it back to the fairway.


Counterintuitive Thinking

Let’s get one thing straight up front.  The premise of this work is counterintuitive.  The changes that you will make in your game and your life, that result from this coaching, will not be obvious, easy, or welcoming at first.  Much will depend on your ability to embrace resistance to change and seek to understand the why.  You are not going to see marked improvement by reading GOLF funda MENTAL.  The book without this coach is only half of the recipe, like apple pie without the crust.  I say this coach because, truth be told, many of the coaches that hold that title use strategies and are questionable, at best… and athletic coaches are some of the worst.  (see chapter entitled, Coaches: You Be The Judge)

For an example of counterintuitive thinking…  In their book Dichotomy of Leadership, Navy Seals Willink and Babin present a wonderful case that runs counter to their first book, Extreme Ownership.  I’ve worked with many leaders who insist on implementing a “my way or the highway” approach, which reeks from micromanagement; non-collaboration and scores low in empowerment;  In my work with corporate leaders, we challenge the dichotomy between two misunderstood concepts: responsibility versus accountability.  Where do you stand on those?  Wait until we confront the ever-notorious expectations versus intentions.  (see chapter On Dichotomies)  

Beware of Advice
Most professionals have grown accustomed to seeking tips from specialists who claim to understand “your work” better and deeper and would like to become your teachers; your trainers; your coaches.  We hail them as gurus and seek their counsel.  All well and good so long as the teaching is right-headed.  I come from an education background so I know a lot about good and bad teaching.   The good news is one can learn a lot from experts.  The bad news is whatever they teach; whatever you think you’ve learned; can be extremely short-lived… poof…gone in an instant.  
I will share in the chapter on The Brain-Mind, the work of Peter Brown, co-author of Make It Stick.  He shares memory tactics that are interesting and worthy of note.

Manage Your Own Growth
You are the GC (General Contractor) in the advancement of your game... own it!  Be skeptical.  Don't accept everything you hear or read, as gospel.  The power to discern what works for you is in your hands... so ask lots of questions... and formulate your own intentional game plan.

Dynamic between client and coach
The work that takes place between this Cognitive Performance Coach and his client is both personal and professional.  I’ve become very accomplished at developing the kind of relationship necessary to make this work.  It is a process; a journey… once I become your coach, I can be your coach for life.  Our focus is on you; not me.  I make you the expert so that you will be able to control, dominate your domain.  The famed author, Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, is well known for his “teach a man to fish” analogy.  (see chapter On Learning: A construction Process)

Speaking of books
... my golf clients and I read together... scroll down to the bottom of the page for a brief slideshow featuring a some of the authors that they have access to.

Introducing Author Peter Senge
A number of years ago I began to see this process as a system.  MIT author Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline, helped me in many ways, through his books and in his workshops, to develop a model that is both functional and elegant.  I call it Cognitive Performance Coaching and created a tool called, the wheel, to help my clients to see how it all connects.  More details to come in a chapter that explains the model and how it works.

Inasmuch as education was my chosen field, learning has been instrumental in my development.  That word, learning, is so overused and misunderstood that it truly has lost much of its punch.  The fact that all humans have been to school and have had a wide variety of learning experiences only adds to the confusion.  A chapter dedicated to learning: misunderstood, should shed some light on how fits into the coaching process. 

I tell my clients that I sit on their shoulder and peek into their brain, as we engage in our chats or conversations.  For this coaching to be successful, I need to be able to understand how my client thinks, how thoughts connect to actions, the beliefs and values that ride beneath the surface and command behavior.  I am not a psychologist so there is no Freudian analysis taking place.  This aspect of coaching is more about building relationship, listening astutely to words, phrases, and vocabulary; observing for evidence of emotion displayed as passion, joy, fear, and confidence.

“Ask don’t tell” is one of my is favorite expressions.  Questioning is the very foundation of the Cognitive Performance Coaching experience.  MIT author Hal Gregerson wrote, Questions Are The Answer… and they are.  

Years ago I developed a constructivist philosophy which in brief, places the responsibility squarely on my own brain-mind to figure out and resolve life’s many challenges.  I reject advice from others and rarely give anyone mine.  In the chapter, Opinions Are Cheap, I describe the constructivist beliefs,  how it all evolved, and how it plays out in this coaching model.

The essence and beauty of Cognitive Performance Coaching lies in its personalized approach.  No two clients are the same so the conversations that emerge are always wonderfully unique.  It is, however, the responsibility of this coach to be certain that those conversations are in dialogue form; featuring a healthy give and take.  If my colleagues, as I call them find me interrupting them frequently, they receive an on-the-spot lesson On Dialogue (Title/Book by David Bohm) and the importance of speaking and listening.  Those interruptions, when this coach gets to speak, are the critical learning interventions/opportunities as key conversation points provoke connections to concepts worthy of introduction and discussion.  

It is also a responsibility of this coach to stay on top of his game… which translates to a constant, unrelenting habit of personal and professional development.  You will see in the chapter on learning that I have more than 500 books at my disposal; I know and can recite the words of hundreds of authors who I consider to be irrevocably and inextricably connected to all of the many themes that relate to human growth.  I use rather than read my books, an original concept called cognitive assimilation (see chapter) that has me jumping in and out of precious resources that surround me each day.  

I have an ever growing external network (separate chapter) that informs me on a daily basis about new developments in this arena.  Hardly a week goes by that Amazon doesn’t deliver at least one new book to add to my collection.  Whether it be a quick e-mail from Harvard Business Review or a text featuring the latest webinar by The NeuroLeadership Institute, the network feeds my passion for knowing.

Learning: A Constructivist Approach 
Is It possible that we have had it wrong for so many years?  Has a life of schooling been a complete waste of time?  If I can’t remember anything from Chem 101 and the periodic tables, does that mean I’m stupid?  I got an A in Chem.  Learning is complicated.

First lets look at contextual versus de-contextual learning.  Open your text book to page 224 is the beginning of the de-contextual journey.  While books have now advanced with technology to offer a more realistic experience, it is still a far cry from actual “fieldwork.”   If last night’s reading is followed by today’s lecture, there is little chance that both treatments are gong to resemble a long-term learning experience.

What makes matters worse, the standard form of teaching or training, either in school or on the job, is likely to be “set-and-get.  The expert has the knowledge and chooses to impart that on his subjects.  In my work as a coach, I have been on the receiving end of a host of complaints about boring training sessions that are nothing more than, check the box, I was there, kinds of sessions.

Constructivist pedagogy is built on the principle of sense-making.  Humans, in the process of learning, need to figure things out for themselves.  Until they wrestle with the unknown; until they struggle with concepts that don’t initially make sense; and work at unpacking for meaning; there is really not learning taking place.  So confusions, misunderstandings, errors and mistakes, incorrect assumptions, wrong interpretations, are all part of the journey that move from the unknown to the known.

The human brain is more of a sieve than a sponge, so whatever it is that makes sense today, may well be gone tomorrow, unless we act on that experience.  Repetition that is disengaged from thinking could be time spent perfecting nonsense.  Problem solving with quick fix solutions delivered by others is yet another example of time wasted without long term impact.

Truth be told, my clients continually describe their frustration with this lifelong being told what to do scenario.  It all began with well meaning parents, continued in institutions like church and school, and continues to this day in companies and organizations that depend on a false premise that improving performance requires telling, showing, exhibiting, demonstrating, monitoring, and correction.  The ever present form of performance management buys into that game and, over time, demonstrates just how unproductive it really is.

More to come:

  • ​Cognitive Assimilation and the 15-Minute Rule

  • The Cognitive Performance Coaching Wheel and how it works

  • Coaches: You be the Judge

  • Ask Don’t Tell: Questioning is Key

  • The Brain-Mind Connection and Power

  • Executive Function Skills

  • On Performance Improvement

  • Dichotomies to Consider on and off the Links




Trevor Moawad came to me via colleague coach Lauren Johnson.  She publishes a mid-week update and during one of her sessions she referenced this work.  Moawad passed away recently which makes this book even more special.  
Without giving away all of the secrets of this very astute publication...  one of his more powerful messages is:

  • positive doesn't always work

  • negative never works

  • remaining in neutral is the key

The Bombero Affect

An interesting note about the role and function of a mental coach... I played Champions Gate CC in Orlando on Thursday of last week.  The Ledbetter School is onsite at the Omni Hotel property.  When I arrived on the practice tee, the spots were full... so i watched and waited.  I noticed that one apparent swing coach had six players and he was shuffling back and forth giving instructions... all in Korean, I presumed.  Their swings were impressive.  

I always carry a small wallet full of business cards in my bag... so i reached for one (always give two) and walked over to the coach and one of his pupils.  When I handed him the card, he looked at it; paused; and asked me how much I charge... 

I told him that his question was complicated... and it depended on a variety of variables... in the end the annual fee would fall somewhere between 10G and 100G, depending on a host of factors... such as... tour status, anticipated time commitment... presenting challenges...   
I suggested that he call or e-mail me and we could share a few conversations... and recommended that he take a peek at this webpage.

"The Bombero Affect" describes the work of a firefighter... who spends much of his time at work, not fighting fires; waiting for the bells to sound... and when they do, he (she) does what they are trained to do.  Any municipality pays good money to have its firefighters on hand and ready to go at a moment's notice... but the reality is, the city or town pays them for their downtime as much as they do for their time-in-the-field.

A golf mental coach's work is somewhat the same.  We jump into action when the pressure is on... and when the action slows, we shift to a different gear.  That gear is critical because the greatest learning takes place when the mind is calm and able to focus... and think... and reflect... that mental flow can be achieved both on and off the course.

​Our golfer is never out of mind and I am constantly studying my craft... so that I am ready to maximize the opportunity when it presents.  BTW... Bombero is firefighter in Spanish. 

The annual fee
So what is the annual fee all about and why is it so complicated?
When you reach an agreement with me... this is what you get in return:
commitment 24/7... wake up in the middle of the night before a big tournament, in a panic state... call me ... I will pick up the phone... and we will work until you feel confident and ready to compete.
on-call communication... we will exchange texts, phone calls, e-mails, zoom chats, arrange meeting times... all key methods that facilitate kaizen: ongoing learning...
a dependable relationship... you can count on me to be there for you... accessible and available... with a reassuring smile... and the right words... the mere sight of your mental coach should provoke confidence, assuredness, calm, and spark performance energy.
astute language... this coach knows what to say and what not to say that will help the golfer's brain-mind work on your behalf... and knowing what not to say is equally as important... the wrong words at the wrong time can be devastating to an athlete; they can cause a mental spiral rather than create a neutral mindset.
a constant researcher... this coach has hundreds of resources at his fingertips every day... receives articles daily from the best journals and organizations that speak to performance and learning... and is passionate about being on top of his game... so you can be on top of yours.
a learning partner... if smart wins... and it does... then learning is the key... so we will organize, plan, and arrange learning opportunities all along the journey... face-to-face; on zoom; in carefully constructed e-mails; with books and articles that share key themes.  We learn to value learning, together.
a personalized approach... no two humans are alike... a differentiated instructional approach is a must... just look at the players on Tour and they are as different as night and day... Cognitive Performance Coaching does not rely on a fixed formula... it flexes and adapts to the needs of each client.
you get "me"... it may seem arrogant or at a minimum, overly confident... but... when you pay for me to join your team,  you receive the support and the benefit of having a seasoned (old) coach by your side... who brings wisdom, knowledge, and who is skilled at the coaching craft.
you get more... than you bargained for...

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