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Saturday, June 21, 2008
The Essence of Success - Sports and Otherwise

Every now and then we get a glimpse of the essence of something – that special ingredient among many that is most responsible for whatever it is. Without malt powder, it’s only a milk shake kind of stuff. Tiger Woods by all accounts is a successful golfer. At only age 32, he is winning major tournaments at a pace faster than anyone in the history of the sport.[1] Around the water cooler we try to capture his essence by saying “He’s a great athlete”. But upon the revelation that he not only won the U.S Open while hurt, but with a broken leg and a bum knee (technically two fractures of a major leg bone – the fibula- and serious ACL knee ligament damage), the essence is something more than just having “athleticism”. Some humans with great athleticism would cue the pain and have been back at the clubhouse by day 2, 3, 4, or day 5. Some humans would have missed the US Open altogether by the completely legitimate excuse of taking the advice of Tiger’s highly respected doctors. They essentially said, “swing your crutches not your clubs” this week.
But from the 5-day reality show called the US Open, we saw the essence of why Tiger Woods is so successful.” He wasn’t at his job just to make money. Before the Open started, he already had $128 million from salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees, making him the top-earning US athlete on the Sports Illustrated “Fortunate 50” for several years and counting. It is his ability to compete at the highest level in the face of adversity, the competitive desire to win, the single-minded purposefulness to overcome major “distractions”, the patience and perseverance to, as he says, “grind it out. Isn’t that the key in many of our personal and professional endeavors? When we rewind our minds to when we have been most successful, hasn’t it often involved one or more of those attributes? When you worked not just to get paid, but a combination of profitability and passion? Without swinging a 7 iron, haven’t you done your best when you stayed focused on the task at hand, or continued to work into the night to grind out a document when you could have been sipping martinis, or ignored the excuses to fight for what you believed about your abilities, not limiting yourself to what others thought were your limitations? What I saw in the US Open, therefore, was not just a sporting event. I saw a glimpse of greatness, born not in a golf swing or the singular desire to make the next dollar (OK, the next million dollars). The essence was in the mind and heart of a great achiever. I also saw a glimpse of the essence of what breeds success in all of us – just not as profitable and prolific, but prophetic nonetheless.

[1] He has now won 14 major championships. Only a legend named Jack has more at 18, but it took him longer to reach where Woods is now.


Well put!

It was a great US Open this year, no doubt.

Blogger Jimmy H -- 6/22/2008 1:51 PM  

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