Can THIS Tiger Change His Stripes?

Read my lips Tiger, “Not in control doesn’t mean you are out of control.” 

However if at the centre of your being and probably your golf game is the core belief that either you’re in control or you are out of control, then you are for lack of a better term, screwed.

Why is that?

Let’s check your recent and not so recent nine hole scorecard in the “In control” vs. “Not in control” parts of your life:

  1. Your marriage – you couldn’t stop your ex from not being able to go along with the lie that you were living.
  2. Your sexual cravings – yes, you were… and I’m guessing… still not in control of where they take you.
  3. Your body – you may have believed you were invincible and maybe even had some believers when you won the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines on two legs that were about to fall out from under you, but your body is proving that it is hardly bulletproof or even injury proof.
  4. Your body’s healing – you may have thought you were ready for prime time even though your medical advisors probably – or should have – warned you weren’t (as a medical doctor myself I know there is only so far I can get in trying to protect someone from themselves).
  5. Your sponsors – you can probably understand why they have left you although I’m sure you believe that all you need is to win another Major or two and they’ll be back and judging from the men who the public has re-embraced after an embarrassing personal debacle, you’re probably right.
  6. Your public’s perception of you – before your marriage problems exploded onto the front pages, you had guarded and controlled the public’s perception of you better than any other athlete in recent times.
  7. Your former caddy’s loyalty – all narcissists injure poorly and when it happens it quickly releases a rage that is awful to behold.  Don’t know if that is an accurate description of Steve Williams, but it is clear that after you fired him you had very little control of what and how he would talk about you.
  8. Your age – it tough to cheat father time with regard to your mind, body and spirit (oops, scratch the last one, it’s unclear where you are in the spirituality department) although you can put up a pretty good battle.  For instance I look and think much younger than my age, but from my skin inward I often feel “half past dead.”
  9. Your dad – no kidding on this one.  Although he had some of his own flaws, I think you have not really been able to “live with life never being the same again” after he died.  I still tell the story, and retold it in my last book, “Just Listen” Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone (Amacom, $24.95), of how in the 1997 Masters after you shot 40 on the front nine of the first day you turned to your dad with a kind of “wheels coming off the bus” look and I believe he said something such as: “Tiger you’ve been here before, just do what you need to do.”  After that you went on to shoot 18 under par and win by 12 strokes.

Here is the secret to getting through this and getting better than you have ever been. Rather than treating the “not in control” zone as if you are “out of control,” you need to lean into it and go Zen. 

What does that mean?  Work on your fundamentals, swing, etc. and practice, practice, practice but if it’s not working, sometimes instead of trying to make it work, you need to let it not work and continue with practicing, but don’t attach to the outcome.  Don’t force it.  Stop trying to look for or force your game, instead let what your working on discover your game for you.  Practice what you used to do when you would hit every shot possible, get up to the ball, clear your mind of everything except for the directive you would give yourself, “Execute!”

This would probably help as an overall philosophy to adapt for your life.

In my life I think I have had more than two hundred significant breakthroughs that exponentially accelerated my life forward.  However each and every one of them was preceded by a breakdown that was not pretty, was often scary, and often felt like something I would not get past.

realising that all my breakthroughs have been preceded by breakdowns I have now adopted the following approach:

  1. Don’t try to make bad things happen, they undoubtedly will.
  2. When they happen, resist the temptation to blame others, beat up on myself, make excuses or feel sorry for myself.
  3. Instead I say many times to myself, “Don’t do anything for 72 hours to make it worse, continue your usual healthy routines and let time pass.” 

When I do this I often have a breakthrough within 72 hours that never would have happened had I not had the preceding breakdown.  And often the greater the breakdown, the greater the breakthrough.  In the past when I didn’t do this and did do things that made it worse, I often missed out on the breakthrough because I was too busy having to apologise, make amends or hide the self-defeating stuff I did to deal with it.

The “Not in Control Zone” is not the enemy, it is where the game of life is played.


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