Defined as "a determination to act in a certain way", I have come to believe that conscious intention is one of the cognitive fundamental building blocks for rapid and lasting improvement in just about any task. Back in 2010, I found myself in an esoteric discussion with an ex-tour pro turned teaching professional about the more cryptic aspects of the golf swing. He at one point remarked that "there were several mechanical elements in the golf swing, that although border on physically impossible to execute to perfection, we should still intend to execute them to that standard". When I asked him to elaborate, he used the concept of "holding shaft flex through impact" to illustrate his point. According to him, one of the holy grails of pure ball striking was the ability to put the club in such a position on the downswing, that through the impact zone (waist high to waist high) there was maximum backward pressure in the shaft that should be held until long after the ball leaves the face of the club. The consequence of this pressure is that the clubhead cannot and does not pass the hands until well after impact. There are several variables that have to work in conjunction with one another for this to come close to happening, but when they do, the benefits are many. Many of you golfers will know this as "Lag", and it obviously involves MUCH more from a mechanics standpoint than the space of this article will allow. And because of the invisible dynamics, and the speed at which the swing happens is almost impossible to see with the human eye. His point was that there was a huge difference in achieving visual lag on the downswing, and actually holding that pressure in the shaft to its maximum degree well past impact. Many folks argue whether this is actually humanly possible due to the huge amount of centrifugal and centripetal forces in the swing. The idea, however, was even if it is NOT humanly possible to execute this task, we should INTEND to do this since it is the gold standard of performance, and the closer we get to touching perfection the better the result will be.
It got me to thinking that once we define what the benchmark actually is in any given task, whether it's swinging a golf club, casting a fly rod or even tying a fly, it is our INTENTIONS (when compared to that perfect model) that govern how, and to what degree our skills improve. When I began to recognize the importance of CONSCIOUS INTENTION, it really shifted the way I think about...well just about everything. I cast with more intention, I tie flies with more intention, I build rods with more intention, and I actually fish with more intention as well.
Interestingly enough, I have recently discovered this new found discipline spilling over into other parts of my professional and personal life as well. As much of a blessing as this has been it can also be very uncomfortable. In order to improve, we have to be very self-critical and completely open to the possibility and more likely, the probability for change. We also have to accept that falling short of perfection no matter how well-intentioned our efforts are, is all part of the process and that even though perfection may be unobtainable, the pursuit of perfection is certainly a worthy intent!
Hope you all enjoy the picture of The Hawk (Ben Hogan) holding shaft flex through impact. Have a great week with lots of intention in everything you do.