I stumbled across a very interesting idea in this interview with Rory McIlroy on pgatour.com in the lead-up to this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.
McIlroy is the defending champion at Charlotte, but as will happen for the foreseeable future, the media began by asking him to revisit his final round collapse at this year’s Masters:
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten since the Masters, and who gave you that advice?
Don’t listen to you guys. I had a good chat with Greg Norman the week after when I was in Malaysia, and he sort of just said to me, don’t – from now on, don’t read golf magazines, don’t pick up papers, don’t watch The Golf Channel. But it’s hard not to. Obviously you want to keep up to date with what’s going on. But you can’t let other people sort of influence what you’re thinking and what you should do.
I’ve taken my own views from what happened a few weeks ago and moved on, and that’s the most important thing.
The last paragraph reveals that McIlroy pretty much has his head screwed on straight. As I said in my post, “He’ll Be Okay,” right after the Masters, uh, he’ll be okay.
My interest is more in Greg Norman’s advice to him. Norman’s advice was born of his own 6-stroke collapse at the Masters where he was the target of all manner of polite derision, pity and dismay. “How could he choke like that? Did you see how bad he choked? Man, what a choker.”
So I certainly understand Norman’s strategy of not exposing himself to the derision. But that comes from weakness instead of strength. It comes from your fear that your sense of yourself is so malleable that you dare not look into the vampire’s eyes.
All of this, of course, is a function of the pitiable human ego. It stems from the fact that the ego thinks that it’s who we are. In fact, as I’ve said before, we are the spiritual essence on which the ego’s flimsy façade has perched. So for most everyone, when the ego comes under assault (from other confused egos), it internalizes it and takes it personally.
So it’s very important to know who you really are. But beyond that, knowing the ego’s predilection to become confused about that, you have to keep reminding it that you are not what other people have to say about you, you are who you say you are. Everything that Greg Norman was afraid the media was going to say about him was only what the media was going to say about him. It was not the cast-in-stone, irrefutable truth, no matter how widespread the din.
It may be hard to cling to your own truth when what they say isn’t in alignment with what you say. And that’s where the principles of mastery come up. Not only do you have the freedom to control who you are, you have the ability to watch yourself control who you say you are.
In order to keep moving down your path, it is sufficient to merely watch yourself squirm when you come under that sort of scrutiny. Because who’s doing the watching is your spiritual essence, not the ego. And from that deeper observation place, you will be able to see the frailty of the ego…and assure it that, however uncomfortable things might get, there is nothing to fear.
It routinely takes a lot of handholding to get there for most people, even for someone of Greg Norman’s greatness. But, gazing across the spectrum of the wise ones among us, eventually you can get to peace, tranquility and equilibrium. Mastery is a process.