Rory McIlroy at the Masters: when not winning the title is still a win - Amana Walker

Sometimes winning back your self-belief is more important than winning in the traditional sense, writes Amana Walker

Sometimes a win isn’t a traditional win.

Take Rory McIlroy - his performance at this year’s Masters golf tournament was, for the four-time major champion, less than impressive.

Until, that is, we hit the final day on Sunday - and then it was nothing short of spectacular, when he scored an 8-under round of 64, marking his best ever finish at the tournament and matching the best final day score The Masters has ever seen.

But this isn’t just about Rory, or The Masters, or golf. This is about how any of us can win, even when the stakes are high, and even if we’re not doing currently doing our dream job.

If you’re looking for success, here are a few tips for you.

Rory McIlroy after chipping in for birdie from the bunker on the 18th green during the final round of the Masters (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Enjoy what you do

I know it’s easy to say ‘do what you love’, but even if you’re not doing the job or living the life that you’d love to see yourself doing, then find the bits that you do enjoy about it.

Every job has its pros and cons, doesn’t it? So even if the best bit is as simple as being at the place you work or being with the team you work with or it’s just one element of the job you do, find it.

When you can find fulfilment at work there is every chance that you can become a top performer - so focus on what matters, and why you are there. Daily positive reminders help us to get through the tough times and give us a reason to be at our best.

Don’t hold yourself back from being a ‘winner’ in your job by focusing on the things you don’t like about it.

If a job is worth doing (or at a place worth doing it at) it’s worth doing well.

Rory McIlroy reacts after chipping in for birdie from the bunker (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Sharpen your skills

Any sporting star, McIlroy included, will tell you that if you want to be the best, you have to work hard at it.

If there’s something about your job that you struggle with (or avoid), then face it head-on. You don’t have to turn your areas for improvement into your super talents, but small improvements can lead to big gains.

Be honest about your performance and get feedback from someone you work with; you need to know your starting point and your improvement target areas. Being out of your comfort zone and doing things you’re not so good at can shift your performance dramatically.

Small improvements over time add up to big gains.

Know your strengths

That said, when you know what you’re good at, you can excel even further.

Some people make the mistake of not working hard to sharpen up their strengths, which often means that gradually, and without noticing, your strength becomes something that you’re average at.

Polish your skills, find ways to become even better at them and become known as the person who does it best.

When you stand out and shine in any job, not only does your enjoyment factor rise but you also become someone to watch - and are more likely to get promoted.

Manage the pressure

As we become more experienced and exceptional at what we do, the pressure and expectation is likely to rise. We’ve seen this in Rory McIlroy’s game over the years.

At 21 years old and filled with confidence and enthusiasm, he had his first PGA tour win in 2010 and although he continued his winning streak over the following few years, he has not won the coveted Masters green jacket and trophy - yet.

Pressure has played its part in this, as it does with everyone. When you’re the one with the spotlight on you, suddenly the doubts creep into your head and doing the job that you know you are good at becomes a fear-ridden struggle. That’s when we make mistakes, crumble in an interview, or lose out on a major trophy in a golf tournament.

Manage the pressure by remembering what you’re good at, focusing on enjoying what you’re doing and blocking out negative thoughts and distractions in your head.

Believe you can win

Tiger Woods has it, Scottie Scheffler - world no. 1 golfer and this year’s Masters winner - has it, and Rory McIlroy had it on the final day of the Masters. It’s that belief that you can win.

In an interview after he finished his final round of the tournament, McIlroy made a revealing comment.

He said that before he came out for the final day, he had asked himself, ‘why not me?’

To win at anything, you first have to believe you can win - because success starts with managing your thoughts and backing yourself. That inner belief and confidence can power us through hurdles, help us cope in a crisis and take us from a losing position to a winning one.

McIlroy has the talent and skill to be a major tournament - and of course, Masters - winner, and when he believed it himself on day four, he went out and proved it by playing one of the best games of his life. He didn’t win The Masters, but arguably he won something greater - he won back his self-belief.

Believe you can win, and you give yourself the greatest chance of making anything happen.

Amana Walker is a performance coach who works with a range of business leaders and sports professionals. More info at