I’ve been watching Tiger Woods play golf, literally, all my life. He’s four years older than me (43, to my 39) and I remember watching him win amateur and collegiate golf tournaments, long before the general public took notice.
Being that my background is in Sport Psychology, I’ve always said this: Tiger Woods’ story is the most fascinating case study in the history of sports. No one else has had to endure the mental, physical and emotional turmoil that he has. Yes, plenty of it was self-imposed (scandal, injuries, etc.) but this turmoil also perfectly coincided with a TMZ and social media virality that not only negated the separation between public and private life, but made everything he did front page news.
Still, America loves a comeback story and I LOVED every minute of Tiger winning the Masters. Not because I think he’s a flawless role model but because he’s one helluva good golfer. And I think he’s paid his dues.
My three biggest takeaways from Tiger winning the Masters:
1 – Trade Expectation for Appreciation
Tiger has had four back surgeries and I’ve heard him say numerous times how happy he is to simply be playing golf again. At his worst, he was addicted to pain killers and couldn’t even get out of a chair without help. He couldn’t play with his kids. I doubt the younger version of Tiger ever really appreciated that he was able to play golf. He expected to kick everyone’s ass, and like any athlete at his level, you have a feeling of invincibility. You believe it will never end. But it can.
If you’ve ever loved doing something and had it temporarily taken away from you, you know the feeling. When you get back what you expected to always have, you appreciate it that much more.
2 – What You Do in Private Shows Up in Public
They had to move up the final round tee times on Sunday because of forecasted bad weather and Tiger was set to start at 9:20am. A reporter asked him the night before the round what time he was going to wake up.
Tiger responded, “Probably 3:45 or 4:00am.”
They asked Brooks Koepka (he was playing in the group in front of Tiger) the same question and he responded, “About 7:00am.”
Now, to Brooks’ credit, he’s in his 20’s and it’s a lot easier to get “warmed up” when you’re his age. But that’s not the point…
I have a confession to make–someday when I’m older, I plan to have my own sports talk show. It makes sense, right? I love sports and I love to talk 🙂
But the week before The Masters I was listening to a well-known sports commentator talk about his job. He said that he cannot believe how many people come up to him and say, “I could do your job. I LOVE talking about sports!”
He said that, publicly, people see him on TV talking for 3 hours everyday about sports. What they DON’T see is that he gets to the office to privately prep for his show 3 hours before it starts. Then, when he’s done, he has another 2-3 hours of post-production work. Before you know it, he’s putting in 8-10 hour days for a show that only lasts 3 hours.
This person doesn’t roll out of bed and start talking about sports. Tiger doesn’t roll out of bed and start playing golf. If you want the gold medal, you have to be willing to train like an Olympian. You have to do the work in private that shows up in public.
Renew Your Purpose
The most emotional part for me was to see the footage from 22 years ago when Tiger was hugging his father behind the 18th green, to this year when he’s hugging his own son in the exact same place. So powerful…
Because it had been more than a decade since Tiger had won his last major, his kids never saw him win anything of significance. He says they saw him as the “YouTube Dad”–the guy that used to be good but now is a thing of the past. One of his driving ambitions was for his kids to see him as a winner…and they did.
Motivation and purpose changes in our lives. What drives you in your 20’s probably won’t be the same thing that drives you in your 40’s and 50’s. But, whatever it is, tap into it and use it. Tiger had a loooooong way to come back and a renewed purpose is one of the most powerful motivators out there.