The Best are Never Satisfied

expertSocrates was credited with being one of the smartest men of his time. When he was asked what made him stand out among great men of philosophical wisdom, he replied, “My wisdom lay in this: unlike other men, I know how ignorant I am.”

Basketball great Larry Bird followed this philosophy throughout his career. Although Bird was incredibly talented in many areas, he knew he had to keep improving. He said, “If I don’t keep changing, I’m history. I work hard all the time. I’ve always been willing to learn and get better.”

Jack Nicklaus, voted as the greatest player of the twentieth century, holds a belief similar to Bird’s. For example, he learned a new wrinkle to his short game just before the 1986 Masters (which he won) thanks to a tip from Chi Chi Rodriguez. Interestingly, this tip was relayed to Jack through his caddie and son, Jackie. You would think a guy in his forties would be satisfied with his skills, but the best are never satisfied. Such an attitude kept Nicklaus on top of the golfing world for so many years.

Tiger Woods is another who is never content with his playing level. Although Woods won his first major, the 1997 Masters, by twelve strokes, he believed that his swing was too long and his clubface was too shut at the top. He could not hit the soft flowing shots he would need to win the other majors. As a result, he and his swing coach, Butch Harmon, went to work and revamped his swing.

Annika Sorenstam is also on a quest to improve her game. She and her coach write an evaluation after each tournament, outlining what was good about the round and what could have been better. Even after her second U.S. Open victory, by eight strokes this time, she was concerned about getting her evaluation from her coach so she could get better for the next major.

When we become complacent with our abilities, we stop growing and achieving. There is an old African parable that describes how we all must keep progressing in our lives:

Every morning in Africa, the gazelle wakes up and knows it must run faster than the fastest lion.
Every morning, a lion wakes up and knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve.
It does not matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion,
When the sun comes up, you better start running.
If you want to continually improve yourself, you’d better lace up the shoes and start working on the game.

One of 61 strategies in the book Mental Rules for Teaching Golf, written by USGTF Sports Psychologist, Gregg Steinberg, you will find this publication an inspiring collection of short stories for unleashing your teaching potential. Please call the USGTF National office at 888-346-329 or check online at

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