There is only one time a year where I am buckled in my seat for almost an entire four days watching a golf tournament. The Masters is it. Next to being there in person, which has yet to happen, my virtual seat will have to do.
I was gripped by the return of Tiger. Could he really win? Could he even make it around the course for four days? What kind of head-shaking, belief-defying show would he put on this time?
I have to admit, if Tiger shot in the hundreds all four days, I would have been just as glued to the tube as when he was slaying the field in past times. My fascination with his play this time, however, was different. It wasn’t about his swing, amazing shots, or great putting, as those things eluded him this time around. It was about his face.
You could tell he was in pain. He played the entire Masters without cracking a smile. He limped along. We saw him converting his driver into a cane as he walked down the fairway. We heard him confess, “I am in pain all day, every day. After my round, I have to take ice-baths to the death to reduce the inflammation…I break it during the day and my team fixes it at night. You have no idea the work I have put in to get here.”
I know what it is like to play in pain as I struggle with a torn meniscus. You know what pain causes you to do? It causes you to quit. I did. I even stopped exercising because I had to, or at least that’s what I told myself. My self-disciplines suffered. Let’s face it, pain affects your body, mind, and spirit. Most of us run from pain.
How you deal with pain is the great separator between the average person and the superhero. Tiger ran into the pain. He made the pain bow to him. Refusing to surrender to it, he resourced himself to overcome it. Accept it. Deal with it. Transcend it. That’s why they are called superheroes. It was this superhero power that enabled Tiger to rise and play.
He reminds me of David Goggins, who transformed himself from a loser and perpetual victim to decorated Navy Seal and ultra-marathoner who set all kinds of world-class endurance records. He is known to be “the toughest man alive” by some.
“The pain you are willing to endure is measured by how bad you want it,” says Goggins. “Physical and mental suffering is a journey of self-discovery.” Pushing yourself well beyond your comfort zone is all about seeing what you are made of. Insert Goggins’ philosophy of self-development and mental toughness into Tiger Woods’ brain and you will find the same exact script.
The good news is, dealing with pain as a stepping stone to mental toughness is a superpower not reserved for the elite athlete. We can develop our own superhero powers if we will push past the limits of our own comfort zone.
I decided to tap into my own superhero powers a few weeks ago. In examining my thinking, I realized I stopped exercising and holding to my disciplines because of pain. “Wait a minute, chicky!” I told myself. “Just because you are in pain and are having trouble walking doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. You can adapt and do something!” The shift in my mentality towards pain was empowering.
My next doctor’s appointment was still weeks away. What I was doing to relieve the pain was not working. Getting resourceful, I dove into the internet to research a solution. I spoke to all kinds of people asking for advice. The answer was so simple: as soon as I switched from Advil to Tylenol, I immediately became better.
I began to push myself to go beyond my comfort zone with my knee every day since. From golf to doing the twist, today I am pain-free taking no anti-inflammatories!
If there’s one lesson I will take from watching this year’s Masters, it’s the inspiration I received from Tiger to push through my pain to activate my own superhero powers. And if I can do it…
Rise and play!
Stay tuned for my next article on Scottie Scheffler’s superhero powers.
If you would like to tap into your superhero powers in golf or life, please contact me for performance coaching. I have been training champions for the last 20 years through my signature system, The Champion’s Way: Core Foundations for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life. Visit: truechampionacademy.com for more info or to set up a free consult.