I’ve previously written about the importance of being true to yourself. It’s in my Manifesto – “Be genuine – Be who I am, do what I do, and don’t compare myself to others.” I try to do this, but some days are better than others.
I was thinking about this ideas this past weekend while watching golf (I am impatiently waiting for the weather to change so I can play instead of just watch on TV). While role models and mentors can be very good for us, trying to be like someone else can produce some negative consequences.
For those who don’t follow golf, a professional tournament lasts through four rounds – one round of 18 holes per day for four days. You “make the cut” if you do well enough after two rounds that you get to play in rounds three and four.
Thirty-one-year-old Rory McIlroy is ranked number 11 in the world, so he’s pretty good, but he’s not as good as he was last year. From October 2019 through September 2020, McIlroy competed in 15 tournaments. He made the cut every time and finished in the top 10 seven times. From October 2020 until now, he’s competed in 10 tournaments and while he’s finished in the top 10 four times, he’s missed the cut twice.
Of course these things happen. Players of any sport have periods when they’re not doing as well as others. He was asked about it, however, after he failed to make the cut for the Player’s Championship golf tournament this past weekend (the one I was watching).
He responded that he, and several other golfers, had been working to improve their speed, which improves distance. He did increase his speed a bit, but his shots of the tee haven’t been going where he wanted anymore.
He then added, “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t anything to do with what Bryson did at the U.S. Open.”
Bryson DeChambeau won the U.S. Open in October. He also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago. He’s competed in 8 tournaments this season, missed the cut once, and finished in the top 10 five times. Last seasons he competed in 17 events, missed the cut three times, and finished in the top 10 nine times. DeChambeau, who’s four years younger than McIlroy, is a really good golfer and is ranked number 2.
While DeChambeau was already a good golfer, he became really good in the past 18 months, in large part because he worked very hard to put on 40 pounds of muscle. He was also a physics major in university and is very good at determining how his ball will respond to what he’s doing.
McIlroy is a good golfer, but he’s not DeChambeau, and trying to be like him is hurting his game, not making it better. As sports writer Ryan Lavner pointed out “Except not ever Tour player is shaped like DeChambeau. Not ever player swings like him. Not every player sets up their equipment like him. That’s why it’s easy to chase speed … and go off the rails.”
McIlroy should focus on being the best Rory McIlroy, not try to be like Bryson DeChambeau, and the same advice is good for all of us. While we can see what others do and maybe try some of their methods, we need to stay true to who we are. We need to be the best us instead of a poor quality knock-off of someone else. I need to be the best me and you need to be the best you.
Featured image courtesy of TourProGolfClubs under a CC-BY license.