Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods won yesterday. Surprised? I wasn’t. For some reason it just seems like he always wins. He’s 32 and just reaching the prime years of professional golfers, and he is already considered the greatest golfer to have played the game. There is always some young and upcoming player that is touted as the next challenger to Tiger’s throne. But nothing ever materializes, and it just ends up being Tiger and the rest of the PGA Tour. He has all the money he could ever want; in fact, some think he will be the first billion dollar athlete. Over the years he has changed his swing, his coach, his caddie, his clubs, his ball; maybe the only thing he has not changed is his shirt color on Sunday. Through all the change, he continues to dominate.

I have often wondered what it would be like to get inside his head. To see what drives him. To see why he has not pulled a Michael Jordan and switched to baseball, just for something new and exciting. To see why he never sounds off when his competitors talk smack. To see why he still outworks those around him, when the gap between him and the next competitor is already nearly insurmountable.

Why is he an exception to the rule that you often fall to the level of your competition? How did he come back from his 1-over par 73 on Saturday to fire a 7-under for his largest come-from-behind win since 2000?

He is a freak of nature in all aspects. There is no other explanation.

Although I can not answer those questions and do not claim to understand what really drives him, seeing Tiger Woods continue to do his thing reminds me of something I have been taught my whole life. My dad always said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. It’s whether or not you are improving.” When he would say that, I used to think to myself “That’s what losers say to keep their confidence up.” But now I think I am starting to see the wisdom within it. Think about Tiger. He won by eight strokes a few weeks ago, but in the press conference he talked about how he was disappointed with many facets of his game. His honest evaluation of his performance compared to his view of his potential allowed him to determine ways to improve and develop.

But I am not Tiger Woods, and golf is not my number one priority; following my Savior is. Unlike Tiger, to be successful in my priority I do not need to beat out someone else. Seems a little more conducive to the whole “compete with yourself” mentality, doesn’t it? But being the prideful kid I am, I still struggle with that. I get complacent when I feel that I am one-upping my neighbor, and my progress slows. I get frustrated when I see someone else who is not struggling with the same things as myself, and stop focusing on what I can do better and think instead about why this guy thinks he’s got it all figured out. Dumb, huh?

What’s even worse is that even when I am in the right mind set, and only competing against myself, I will sometimes think “Well I did better at that yesterday, so today I failed.” That mind set almost seems to be true. But that thought comes up short. It is lacking the eternal perspective of my Father in Heaven. He never compares me to others, only to my own potential. He does not even compare what I do today with what I did yesterday, because He understands that today is not yesterday. He recognizes that my potential to do something today might be a little less than yesterday, maybe because I did not sleep well last night. But I often over look that, and that short sightedness can lead to discouragement and despair.

Tiger seems to get this principle. He can bounce back from days in which the public claims he did not play up to his “standards.” He seems to not make excuses, but to take into account all the factors that contributed to the outcome, and make changes where he needs to. He stays within himself, and he plays his game, regardless of what others do. I think if I were to approach life the way that I feel Tiger approaches golf, I would be more optimistic, recognize more ways to improve, and be happier as I understand that all I can give is all I can give. If it is not as much as I gave yesterday, so be it; as long as it was all I had.


becca said...

My favorite part of President Hinckley's memorial service: "Give your best all you life."

becca said...