ESPN recently did a piece about Tiger Woods - one of the greatest golfers of all time, who happened to fall from the height of greatness to what most would call disgrace. A mixed bag of his father’s death, affairs, injuries, and public ridicule has lead to one of the most shocking stories of an untouchable athlete being hammered to ground, not winning, not qualifying, just not being the same dominate golfer we all came to love. It is interesting to reflect on what made Tiger so great, what caused the fall, and what can we learn from it!
My belief is that what made Tiger so great, or the greatest, was also what brought him to where he is today: obsessive compulsive, extreme introvert, relational issues, hmmm … I don’t know Tiger, and all of this is speculation, but I am pretty certain it has to do with his MENTAL game.
Why was Tiger great?
1.) Tiger is addicted to results. 2.) His obsessive nature led him to a practice regimen that was incomparable to anyone else. 3.) He had the ability to focus on nothing but winning; “Tiger Vision” as we called it. 4.) He had extreme confidence in his game.
Why did Tiger fall?
1.) He was addicted to results. When things were not going his way, he couldn’t handle it. He replayed every bad shot, kicked himself, and wrestled constantly with his lack of results. 2.) His obsessive nature wasn’t limited to golf. He became obsessed with the military and women. These obsessions were in many ways a part of his downfall. It seems like the combination of him spending excessive time doing military training and the stress of his marriage unraveling got the ball rolling on his downfall. 3.) He focused too much on golf. When he put golf above his relationship with his family, the public humiliation proved to demolish his reputation, self-worth, and identity. In the ESPN article, it suggests that Tiger spends hours upon hours reading comments on social media about him. Seemingly, his foundation of who he was and why he played golf was shattered. 4.) His extreme confidence was crushed because he focused on result and because his source of confidence was external. Tiger knew what preparation and work ethic was all about; however, instead of falling in love with the process of becoming great, he fell in love with the results. It is hard to blame him, but from what I have seen, those who stay on top love the process and trust that results will follow. Their confidence comes from knowing they prepared to the best of their ability. The best know that they put in the work to become great and focus on the blood, sweat, and tears that led them to where they are.
I admire Tiger for his work ethic, his ability to mentally dominate people before they even made their first swing, and for his ability to provide some of the best golf entertainment I have ever seen. At the same time, I feel sorry for him. He lost is dominance, which is a huge source of purpose and identity. Yes, he was an extreme introvert and hated the fame, but it seems like his foundation of how to be a winner broke and ultimately broke him.
I don’t know Tiger, but I think it can provide great value to reflect on your approach to success. At Pro Performance, we have a “hearts-first” approach to real mental toughness. We fall in love with the process of becoming great and let the results take care of themselves. We put our identity and purpose into something greater than winning…our WHY is unbreakable. We put first things first and don’t lose site of what is most important in our lives. And lastly, our confidence comes from within. We know we have done everything in our power to prepare. We compete against ourselves and grow in the process.
I’d love to dominate a sport like Tiger, but if I ever rise to the top, it is going to be based on these principles of success. I hope that this blog made you think about greatness a little differently. Only you can choose your path to greatness, but remember what John Wooden Says:
“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” -John Wooden