I can still remember watching in amazement, a 5- or 6-year-old Tiger Woods swinging the golf club on the Johnny Carson show. He was almost like a miniature robot that was programmed to hit the ball without ever missing, time after time, on cue.
Of course, he went on to become one of the most famous golfers in history with an amazing ability to sink the putts and carry the ball long distances. But there’s always something not quite right about these instances of a precocious and super-focused kid who seems to have been groomed to be a wunderkind.
You can’t help but wonder what his life is really like. Is there anything normal for him? Does he go to school and have friends? Does her get to watch TV and eat junk food like most kids his age? What does he have to sacrifice in order to fulfill his father’s dream for him?
In this case, Tiger was probably totally focused on his goal to become a world-famous golfer, and the youngest to boot. He was a true phenomenon and most of us marveled at his accomplishments. He just kept going and going... until he stopped.
At mid-career, almost as though he had run out of the super high-test fuel that had been propelling him forward, he began to miss some strokes and take some bad swings. Many of us wondered what was happening to this kid who seemed so invincible on the greens.
Some cracks began to appear on and off the course - behaviors that we were unaccustomed to seeing. He was making front page news, but for all the wrong reasons. Of course, his most troubling behaviors were those that had to do with his personal life and reports of marital problems, purported drug abuse and other tabloid worthy revelations. His father died and he was probably the strongest and most important influence in his life. He seemed to be falling apart right before our eyes and some of us thought his career and peaked and was now on a downward spiral.
I couldn’t help but think about the childhood he never experienced and whether he was now regressing to a level of behavior that was almost child-like in its lack of discipline and personal control. Was he going to destroy everything that was connected to his life as a champion and a person of accomplishment? What was going to be his ultimate fall from grace, I wondered?
He still appeared on the roster from time to time, but for the most part, former fans were dismissive of him as a serious athlete. His light had dimmed, was the general conclusion.
But then, out of the blue, totally unexpectedly, he came up out of the shadows into the light and won a major tournament a few weeks ago. He just did it. Somehow while no one was paying attention, Tiger was putting his life back together. He was quietly restoring some of the qualities that had propelled him to fame over a decade ago; hard work, perseverance, concentration on his game, and a certain tranquility that comes from having found peace with yourself.
What a wonderful thing to see! What a wonderful example for all of us who have experienced low points in our lives and wondered how we would pull through. How sweet it was to see him raise this arms in victory and rush to hug his son.
Tiger has given us all something really precious, he had given us the power to understand that we can hope to improve our lives if we decide to do it. He pulled himself up and so can all of us; we just need to do what he did, focus on where we want to be rather on where we are.