Sometimes the impact of an event extends well beyond its expected boundaries. The assassination of JFK comes to mind. It was not just the death of an important man; it shook the nation to its core regarding its security and future. The same could be said about 9/11.
On the more positive side, President Obama’s election had an impact beyond his becoming our 44th president. It again said something about us as a nation: We had come this far since slavery; we had finally lifted a huge pall of national injustice, at least in terms of opportunity.
The Prodigal Son
While Tiger Woods’ accomplishment on Sunday involved “only a game,” its impact immediately extended beyond golf and golfers.
The whole world knew the sad saga of Tiger Woods over the past decade. He was the modern-day Prodigal Son who took his father’s riches (remember, Earl Woods in many ways made Tiger what he was) and squandered those riches on wine, women and song. Now, here Tiger is today, returning, repentant, apologetic, appreciative of anything the world might afford him at this point. And what does he get? A banquet in the form of the biggest feast in golf, another victory at the Masters.
He had tasted this banquet many times before, perhaps taking it for granted, believing it was his birthright. But now he comes to the table with hat in hand, on bended knee, grateful just to be there … and finds himself to be the guest of honor.
Surely many of his brothers on the PGA Tour must have been saying, as did the Prodigal Son’s brother, “Why this reception for this ungrateful son? We have been here toiling endlessly for the last decade, and we get no such show of appreciation.”
Yes, the whole world does rejoice more over the return of one lost valuable soul than over all of the faithful who have plodded along in his absence. Still, in truth, his golfing brothers will be getting more than their due, thanks to Tiger Woods’ return.
And it happened at Easter
Now, I am a God-fearing Christian, inclined toward organized religion and all of its tenets. Thus, here in the Easter Season, I can’t resist the temptation to extend the biblical metaphor even further.
Tiger has risen from the depths, if not the dead! He was virtually dead of mind, body and spirit. He needed resuscitation, rehabilitation and renewal. And here he is back – resurrected in a form we once knew and can now again recognize.
Tiger had to reach deep into his inner being and pull himself out of the abyss to resurrect his crumbled life. No one else could have done it for him. His dad was gone, his wife was gone, his sponsors were gone, and many of his friends were gone. Perhaps he prayed, perhaps he came to Jesus. But ultimately he willed himself back into existence and stood alone on the world stage facing the monumental task before him on the way to achieving his full rebirth.
You might say that he was born again, right before our very eyes. It was breathtaking, tear-jerking, life on the edge. I could hardly stand it until the last little putt was securely in the hole and Tiger’s return had been fully consummated.
The new responsibility of a resurrected Tiger
Tiger is now our Tiger, not just his own. The arrogant, self-absorbed creature that he was appears to be gone. In its place is a kinder-gentler Tiger, aware of others, appreciative of family and fans, joyous in victory, unabashedly expressing his spirit from within.
Tiger stood there for all of us. On his shoulders rested the whole game of golf and, in some ways, all of us who have failed, floundered and thought there was no way back. Now we can see it can be done, but we also have to admit full awareness that it can only be done by each of us alone, willing it from within.
Had Tiger crashed and burned, it would have been catastrophic for both Tiger, the game of golf and all of us. Instead, Tiger showed us that failure need not win, as long as we ourselves don’t declare it the victor. The quintessential champion prevailed, stood alone, battled the demons single-handedly and ultimately slayed the biggest demon of them all – himself.
Tiger put mental toughness on full display. Exhibit A was the intensity of his focus! One lapse of eye control, one glimpse at a spectator, one smile of anticipatory victory to his caddy, one inkling of negativity and The Masters might have slipped away. He was in control of himself and therefore his game, not the other way around.
Another thing he taught us was preparation. In addition to the physical and mental rehabilitation he went through over the past couple of years, he taught us how he goes through a microcosm of that regimen every day before playing his round. He doesn’t just ride out to the club at a comfortable hour after sleeping in, tee it up and effortlessly play like a champion. Quite the contrary! On Masters Sunday, he was up at 3:45 a.m., at the gym at 5 a.m., getting himself physically and mentally focused over a 5½ hour warm-up period prior to playing his round.
And we wonder why we struggle for the first several holes when we show up cold 15 minutes before our tee time. No wonder we can’t just go out and play like Tiger!
Preparation and focus, that is, pure hard work and fundamental psychology are what we all can emulate in Tiger instead of chasing the latest psycho-gimmickry to come online in pursuit of quick fixes that don’t exist.
It took Tiger two years after he began his quest to achieve his goal. It would seem presumptuous for us to expect anything less.
So set your target, make a plan, will it to happen, and then endure until you succeed, avoiding eye contact (figuratively speaking) with anyone who might distract you from your appointed goal.
Only you can make it happen. And while the whole planet might not be watching, YOUR whole world will be. Don’t disappoint yourself. Don’t let yourself down. Prepare, stay focused, will it and endure to the end.