Lessons from Tiger Woods

Lessons from Tiger Woods

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the lessons from Tiger Woods.

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Now, let’s talk about lessons we can learn from Tiger Woods.

Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods is one of the most successful golfers of all time. He is the World No. 1, the highest-paid professional athlete in 2008; he earned $110 million from winnings and endorsements.

Woods has won 14 professional major golf championships. He has more career major wins and career PGA Tour wins than any other active golfer. He is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam, and the youngest and fastest to win 50 tournaments on tour. Woods has won 16 World Golf Championships and has won at least one event each of the 11 years they have been in existence.

Woods has made an estimated $1 billion in endorsements in his 13-year career, the most of any athlete ever. Sports Illustrated estimates he’s now bringing in $100 million a year pitching various products.

But just a few weeks ago, all of that began to change as the world heard story after story of alleged affairs, trysts and secret sordid liaisons involving Woods and around 11 different women.

On Sunday, the golfer lost his first endorsement deal with gllobal consulting firm Accenture, Ltd who said it felt Woods was “no longer the right representative” following the “circumstances of the last two weeks.” Further, Gillette stopped airing all advertisements featuring Woods, and AT&T has announced that it is re-evaluating its relationship with Woods.

And last Friday, Woods announced his indefinite leave from golf to focus on being on a better husband and father. Yes, Woods admitted to some transgressions.

So what can be learned and gleaned from this story? Is it just a case of a married man who has a compulsive problem and who subsequently betrayed his wife many times?

No, there is much more to this story.

So many people believed in and even worshipped Tiger Woods and not just his ability to play golf. His parents (including his now deceased father) and even Michael Jordan believe that Tiger Woods, a Buddhist, is “the Chosen One”, sent by God to change the course of humanity. In 1996, Tiger’s father, Earl, told Sports Illustrated that his son would be bigger than Gandhi or Buddha and that he “…is the Chosen One. He’ll have the power to impact nations.”

Michael Jordan said “I really do believe he was put here for a bigger reason than just to play golf. I don’t think that he is a god, but I do believe that he was sent by one.”

Others literally worshipped Tiger Woods believing that he is God, such as “The First Church of Tiger Woods” – Tiger Woods is God.com.

Although this is an extreme example to the extent that people formed a church, it demonstrates the way that we humans place on a pedestal celebrities, movie stars, rock stars and athletes. Yes, too often we begin to worship these famous people and treat them like Gods. We worship their words, actions and behavior.

Very soon, the celebrity takes him or herself off the pedestal with their mistakes, errors and flaws as we struggle to accept that they are human. Our first mistake is that we fall in love with the person and their image instead of the message; we fail to simply be grateful for their contribution – entertaining us or performing for us and instead we expect them to be something like a God. We confuse sports or artistic achievement for wisdom, insight and spirituality.

Why then do we become shocked to learn that they are not the image we created?

This first lesson is that we can be grateful for what they give us, not expecting anything more and without giving them the power to be superhuman.

But the public was not alone in believing in Tiger Woods.

His wife, Elin, too, believed in Tiger Woods.

Before marrying Tiger Woods, the former model and nanny Elin Nordegren was well aware that Tiger Woods was a womanizer. But Elin believed Tiger when he told her he was going to change. The mistake Elin made was to fall in love with Tiger’s potential (to become a loyal, faithful devoted husband and father; a monogamist.) Yes, Elin didn’t wait to see the change in Tiger Woods; she hoped for the change, expecting it to occur with the marriage ceremony and vow.

Yes, women often make this mistake; they fall in love with a man’s potential, hoping he will change. I have said it before in past Newsletters that most men don’t change, don’t want to change and don’t believe they need to change. In fact, men only change when they truly want to change and when they see the real need to do so. Men are very resistant to change. We can all change but only when we truly feel and believe we need to do so. It is possible now, that Tiger Woods may change because it is alleged that his wife is threatening to divorce him as well as the tremendous impact that these stories and allegations have had on his golfing career and endorsements.

If lesson two is not to fall in love with a man’s potential but rather who he shows himself to be and what he demonstrates i.e. his actions first and words second; then, what is lesson three?

The answer lies directly with Tiger Woods and his responses. While many psychologists and other colleagues of mine have been scrambling in the media to give detailed and complex answers behind the motivations of Woods’ many affairs, the answer is quite simple. In almost every case, cheating and betrayal on a grand scale is almost always about power and opportunity. Yes, some men will venture outside of their marriage and home to get their needs met (such as physical love, affection and attention.) But in Tiger Woods’, case as with many other powerful celebrities, it is more about ego, opportunity and temptation. With the power and adulation of the people comes the delusions of grandeur & invincibility; entitlement, ego and narcissism.

For Tiger Woods, the more famous and the more powerful he became, the more he lived like a rock star – women and groupies were throwing themselves at him, and he, gave into impulses, temptation and ego – doing what many men in power do – cheat and betray thinking they are invincible and god-like. Yes, Woods was tempted and tested. Would he be disciplined, faithful and strong? Would he remember his vows to his wife and his responsibilities and loyalties as a father to two young children – one a two-year old daughter and the other, a ten-month old baby boy? And would he remember that he acknowledged that he was a role model to youth along with his foundation which set up the “Start Something” character development program?

We truly only know our real self based on how we respond to the size of our test! And now we all know that Tiger is not a God, nor is he God; rather, Tiger Woods is human just like the rest of us, back on the low ground, and he now has new choices to make about his future and how he will respond to the consequences of his actions.

In closing, if I may humbly repeat these key lessons to reinforce them:

  1. Stop worshipping celebrities of all types
  2. Don’t fall in love with anyone’s potential; people rarely change
  3. Beware that temptation and opportunity are always there and are exaggerated in direct proportion to power, fame and status

Finally, another lesson: squeaky clean sport doesn’t equal squeaky clean behavior; don’t be deceived by outward appearances. You can read the full transcript of Tiger Woods’ public apology to the world here

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist
www.patrickwanis.com

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