One of the great forgetters

A piece in today’s NYTimes about Phil Mickelson’s resilience – which helps to explain why he has had a great career and players who seemed as good as him when young never did as well as professionals. He has the traits we see in great salespeople: an ability to forget, a keen feel for the odds of success, an absolute enjoyment of the process, and a desire to be the hero of his own life story.

“The root of his success is his abiding love for the game, a passion so pure it enables Mickelson to shrug off the bad shots, block out the fear of failure and focus on the act and art of playing.

“I call him one of the best forgetters in the game,” says Harry Rudolph, an old friend and rival. “He has an amazing gift for being able to forget the last shot, last round, last tournament, and move forward.”

Mickelson takes joy in the process, so his emotional well-being is not tied to his results. He can play to win because he has nothing to lose. “You’re going to make mistakes,” he said. “It’s going to happen. You have to deal with losing. It’s part of the tour. Out of 156 guys each week, one person is going to win, so 155 lose. But you can’t worry about that…Rather than play tentatively or with concern or fear or let somebody else hand it to you, I’ve always liked to get the tournament in my control where if I execute the shots, I’m able to pull off the victory.”

Another old rival, Manny Zerman says: “Phil always tried to hit shots that most people wouldn’t even think of trying. Phil is exactly what you see, always trying to be heroic.”

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