Yesterday was an amazing day of watching Tiger Woods almost win. Actually, that is not a true statement. While he did not take home the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods did win big. There’s nothing like seeing a champion make a comeback after debilitating setback in his personal and professional life.
Beyond the golf world, the entire sports world was cheering him on as he inspired the inner champion in all of us. His play was a visible demonstration of what the human spirit is capable of achieving even after the most notable loss. How does Tiger Woods’ journey of champion redemption speak to the heart of a champion in you and me? How does Tiger’s journey help someone who has experienced setback shift from spectator to player once again? Consider 4 P’s to step back inside the ropes of championship after loss:
- Tiger acknowledged his pain. He didn’t deny it, but worked through it. He dealt with it and refused to let it cause him to quit. In his press interview, he mentioned how painful it was—harder than one would imagine—his journey to comeback was. Part of that pain was taking ownership of his present limitation. Since no one had ever swung a club like he did with having a spinal fusion, he had to figure some things out for himself and by himself. If he had run from the pain, he never would have figured it out.
Champion Comeback Key #1: Don’t run, hide or deny your pain. Start with your pain and face it straight on.
- The road to comeback doesn’t happen all at once. He commented that he did not know if he could play golf again. In the time of “not knowing,” it required great patience for him to journey down the road of discovery—and not care what people thought about his “testing and trying,” giving competitive golf a shot again, taking time off, figuring out if he could re-capture his swing speed and game in the midst of his physical challenges. A year ago, he never thought he would be in contention again for not one, but two major championships.
Champion Comeback Key #2: Give yourself time and patience as you take steps forward to discover your comeback potential and what you are capable of achieving.
- About winning the PGA Championship and being in contention, he said numerous times, “I had to try.” He had to try to win. He had to try to shoot a low score. He had to try to see what he was capable of. He had to try to find a swing the final day. I often say to my coaching clients, “You can’t win if you don’t enter.” The biggest win sometimes is just entering. By entering, over and over again, Tiger Woods gave himself a chance to win. Let’s face it. He had every reason to rationalize quitting: “I have enough money and accomplishments. It’s time to focus on raising my kids exclusively. What will people think of me? I need to play it safe and guard my back. If I don’t what I can do, why risk the unknown? It’s too painful and strenuous to try again.” He put himself in a position to win because he chose to “be in pursuit” instead of quitting.
Champion Comeback Key #3: Take inspired imperfect action. Get off the couch and be in pursuit.
- Over and over again, he spoke about perspective: “I’m grateful to be able to play again. I didn’t know if I could….My kids aren’t thinking about my golf. They are thinking about school, so that’s all that I am talking to them about….The positive vibes from the crowd were tremendous.” It was a beautiful sight to see Tiger stop for a moment and acknowledge the crowds on his way to the scoring tent. He got that his energy was fueled by the crowd’s energy. He then went on to hug Brooks for his win. He was hopeful he would play in the Ryder Cup. In both words and humble demeanor, the re-emerging Tiger Woods expressed a holistic viewpoint on competition and life. It was now all in perspective. I often say, “Wholeness is a combination of performance and relationship.” You could see an expression of both from him.
Champion Comeback Key #4: Pain and setback will produce a new perspective in you. Capture and live out that healthy viewpoint as you get back on the road to championship.
While you may never play in a major championship, you don’t have to remain a spectator in sports or life. Maybe you have experienced a setback in your own life, one that has produced shame, pain, loss, and limitation. That same champion spirit in Tiger Woods, applied to your life, will get you back on the road to championship as well. Why? Because I believe there is a champion in everyone. I believe there is a champion in you!
To review, here are the 4 P’s to releasing your comeback potential, expressed from a place of identity:
- Champions face their pain head on.
- Champions take full ownership of their condition and patiently engage in the process of incremental discovery over time.
- Champions never quit. They pursue. They know the only way to get through a failed championship—in life or sports—is to enter another championship.
- Champions have a holistic perspective on life, sport, and “what it’s all about.” They have a healthy balance of performance and vital relationships.
Adopt these 4 Champion Comeback Keys and who knows where you’ll end up—maybe in contention for a major championship. Like Tiger Woods, you’ll be saying about yourself, “It’s a miracle!”
Veronica Karaman is a peak performance coach, pro golfer, and writer who loves to inspire the champion within others. (Visit jointhechampionsway.com or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org)