(Breather) Today’s episode is all about the legendary Tiger Woods and his incredible comeback.
Most of the world is well aware of the scandals and very public downfall that affected Tiger’s life and career. What I am focusing on today is how he handled himself after his public scandal. He has had the greatest comeback in the history of sports – but how? How did Tiger manage to achieve such a feat? I cite Jeff Benedict’s Tiger Woods book – the first comprehensive, in-depth book on the athlete’s life. The book traces and highlights the influences and experiences that shaped him, notably his father, Earl Woods. He was instrumental in crafting Tiger’s public persona, as well as the driving force behind his son’s initial ambition.
How many “Helicopter Parents” have you encountered over the years? We all know parents like this – they are singularly focused on how to make their child a success. Unfortunately, the person who suffers most from this pressure is the child. Years ago, a friend of mine, an Olympic athlete who knows Tiger, shared an insight with me that I’ve never forgotten. He remarked, “Tiger rose to the highest competitive plane than any human has ever risen to. No one compares to what he has done.” Putting the circumstances of his daily life into context is crucial to understand both his public and private persona – the global level of his celebrity, the attention and scrutiny that accompanies worldwide fame, not to mention the money…. How else could he deal with it? He was driven, by necessity, to foster this extreme, obsessive personality and become absolutely insatiable for achievement and conquest.
I draw parallels between Tiger and Michael Milken – remember him, the “junk bond” King of the 80s? He too was going and going and going, until he finally went off the rails. Like Tiger, he spiraled, and he couldn’t turn it off.
I wrote a book, How Tiger Does It, many years ago, in which I detail the three factors that have made him such a successful athlete. 1) Focus. 2) Work-Play Ethic. And 3) A Balanced Approach (or so I thought at the time). The book is all about how to banish self-limiting beliefs through hard work, believing in yourself, and focusing on your peak performance goals. Under the first topic, “Focus,” I talk about the importance of feeling absolute freedom from fear of failure or insecurity. I highlight how intense Tiger’s focus was, how he was working on his swing – even when he was already at the top – his only competition was himself, his only goal – to get better for himself.
Brad introduces his opinion that Tiger is the greatest athlete in the history of sports [03:45]
Tiger’s life story explains a lot about the man and his comeback. [07:14]
Earl Woods is described in a new book as not the best father. [08:06]
Tiger is more down to earth in recent years. [13:27]
To rise to the highest competitive plane, he had to become insatiable for achievement and conquest. [15:25]
Brad compares Michael Milken’s story to Tiger’s. [16:43]
Three success factors are focus, work ethic, and a balanced approach. [18:34]
To be a great athlete, do you have to be a freak? [20:35]
Give Tiger a chance to come back with grace. Go see him perform. [23:40]
There are five tips to improve your focus. [25:41]
Focus on making smooth transitions from one life responsibility to another. [27:54]
- “You can banish self-limiting beliefs and believe in yourself through the process of hard work and focusing on your peak performance goals.”
- “There are two Tigers. The guy, you see at tournaments and the guy you see off the course.”
Brad: 00:08 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author, an athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high stress modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balanced that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show.
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Brad: 03:34 Breather show about Tiger Woods. Listen carefully to the lyrics.
Brad: 03:45 So Daddy Yankee singing Ven Conmigo. What he said was must got the get Tiger Woods, I’m taking more cat than Tiger Woods. Oh man, is he been teased and ridiculed enough to last many lifetimes and yes, Tiger Woods was up to no good doing things. They never should. Falling very far from grace, both as a celebrity and a spokesperson, but also his incredible string of injuries and surgeries that he’s suffered a kind of coinciding from his life falling apart in 2009 so we’re talking about 10 years ago now where he had the greatest run. I will argue convincingly that he has become the greatest athlete in the history of sports, in any sport. The run that he had dominating golf for over 20 years, nothing like it. And the level of domination, the level of focus and commitment and dedication. Did you know I wrote a book about him a long time ago.
Brad: 04:48 It was called “How Tiger Does It” and it was analyzing the peak performance attributes of a champion and how you can apply them to your own goals. It was actually a sequel to a book I wrote called how Lance does it, about the peak performance attributes of Lance Armstrong. And the funny thing is, first I wrote the last book and in the ensuing years, uh, his life came crashing down on him with the doping allegations and all that controversy. Uh, but meanwhile I was working on a book about Tiger Woods released a couple of years before. Uh, he fell apart in 2009. So then my, uh, editor, publisher and Mark Weinstein at Mcgraw Hill called me up and said, okay, who’s next? Anyway, I stand by the information in those books because I was talking about their, uh, attributes for athletic performance. Uh, not withstanding the, uh, nonsense off the competitive arena. But in Tiger’s case, what happens in case you haven’t been paying attention or all you read is the tabloids instead of the sports reports, uh, is he has battled back from these injuries and surgeries that, uh, we’re by many accounts believe to be a career threatening career ending.
Brad: 06:02 And, uh, last year he made it basically all the way to the top of the golf world again competing as one of the very best players on the planet. So not only will I call him the greatest athlete in history in any sport, but this is definitely the greatest comeback in the history of sports to come back at his age where he’s now a, what, 42 going on 43 second place in the PGA. That’s one of the four major championships of golf. Everyone’s wondering if he’s going to pick up another major. He’s close to the all time record of Jack Nicholas. I don’t care about that. This is a different era and his 14 majors that he’s won is the greatest achievement in golf and all the other victories and accolades. But taking second at the PGA, man, that was a pretty close to, you know, the sports story of the decade if he were to bag a major and capture the public fascination. Uh, but at the end of the year he also won the prestigious tour championship, which is kind of the final event of the season ending Fedex Cup playoffs with the most money at stake, uh, in all the tournaments of golf.
Brad: 07:14 So WOW from going that far down and everything falling apart to coming back. Just want to talk about that a little bit. Give some, uh, some credit out to, uh, a great athlete and a great story. Interesting. There’s a book that was released only recently, 2017, I believe it was called Tiger Woods. And it was the most comprehensive biography ever delivered, a written by prominent journalists, Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian. And these guys went deep for many, many years on this project. They interviewed more than 250 people to learn all about Tiger Woods life and sort out fact from fiction because there’s been so much hype and BS conveyed to create this public image that we all found out was nothing like the real person.
Brad: 08:06 A lot of this was a now traced back to his father, Earl Woods, who was portrayed for his entire life as this ideal father. And he was writing books about fathering and how to, uh, strike that beautiful balance between challenging your kids to be the best they can be, but keeping your priorities straight. And we had all these insights or these character, uh, insights about Earl Woods where he always stressed academics first and he always made sure Tiger did his homework before he was allowed to play golf. And he always, uh, injected this racism component where he pictured himself or presented himself as a victim of racism and actually did the same for Tiger kinda that helped craft has early public image. Remember his first commercial when he said with Nike Hello World and a part of the dialogue, well there are still courses in America than I’m not allowed to play on.
Brad: 08:58 It’s like, oh, really? You think they’re going to turn down Tiger Woods if he wants to go play a few holes at some course? So it was kind of overdramatized and what they booked did a good job was uh, breaking this down and uh, sorry about that. But Earl Woods came out to, uh, not too pretty of a picture. And in fact, he was kind of the driving force pushing Tiger to extraordinary measures as sort of a gravy train element rather than just a unconditional love and a high minded fathering. So, oof. Uh, some of these dramatic stories that were part of Tiger Woods legacy, uh, that he was tied up in kindergarten and kids called him a racist names and threw rocks at him. We’re just directly refuted as complete bullshit and complete fabrication.
Brad: 09:47 Uh, so that was interesting to kind of get the whole story about Tiger and how uh, this ideal father as he was portrayed was really anything but. The guy had his own issues in life, especially the womanizing that he, uh, you know, be stowed upon his son. And so we can kind of put a lot of the blame there as the example that this guy said that no one knew about it at the time and probably didn’t know about, uh, throughout his entire life until this recent book came out. Uh, let me read the actual book description because it sets up some of the, uh, other commentary that follows, I hope the authors don’t mind cause I’m pitching the book, after all. Go get it. It’s fantastic.
Brad: 10:28 “By tracing his life from its origins as the mixed race son of an attention seeking father and the original Tiger mom who programmed him to be the chosen one, tasked with changing not just the game of golf, but the world as well. The authors provide a wealth of new insight into the human being trapped inside his parents creation. We meet the lonely introverted child prodigy who has trouble connecting with other kids because of his stutter and unusual lifestyle. He was traveling around a tournament’s even as a young kid all over the nation. We experienced the thrill and confusion of his meteoric rise to stardom, and we come to understand the grown man’s obsession with extreme training and deep sea diving despite their potential for injury as a rare source of the solitude he craves. Most of all, we’re reminded time and time again of Woods’ is singular greatness and the exhilaration we felt watching an athletic genius dominate his sport for nearly 20 years, but at what cost? Benedict and Keteyian provide the answers in an extraordinary biography that is destined to become the defining book about an authentic American legend. And to linger in the minds of readers for years to come.”
Brad: 11:43 That’s a very well written, compelling, huh?. Anyway, uh, that sets up for, uh, some of the other commentary that I’ve injected into the show about the total mess that we see today with age of the helicopter parent where the ultimate goal is to create a machine that becomes a success in a tangible terms rather than a complete person. And in fact, uh, it’s probably more prevalent than, uh, than we, uh, appreciate where we’re creating these little successful creatures, but we forget the mold them into a real person. Another example from Tiger from the book was like, he, he was known as a cheapskate and that kind of leaked out as part of his reputation. Uh, surprisingly so with all his wealth. And it got so bad that the PGA tour actually assigned a bag man to trail him and handout tips so that they wouldn’t get out and wouldn’t get bad gossip about the PGA tour in general.
Brad: 12:40 So some guy was covering for Tiger, uh, being unwilling to pick up the tab or spread the love. In fact, when he was a deep into training with these navy seals who opened up their, uh, their, their training camps for him, special privileges to jump out of airplanes and go into safe houses and, and raid them with a, a, a precise military raid where he’s training side by side with real military guys. And then there was one account of, you know, the 12 of them went out to some little dive roadside diner out in the desert near their training center and the check came and like, you know, these guys are thinking, is this guy going to reach for it? Because after all we’re, we know we’re carrying them through this training that he’s privileged to be a part of. The rest of them are, uh, enlisted officers and he didn’t make a move for the check.
Brad: 13:27 You know, it was probably 80 bucks at a little place, but whew. What’s cool now is when you see him, uh, on TV giving interviews and, uh, trying to, uh, capture his personality, uh, he’s definitely more down to earth, more affable, more communicative, seems like a more sportsmanship is in play, especially when he did that one to one battle with Phil Mickelson. And that’s really cool cause people can grow up and mature and evolve and if he’s doing it good for him because he’s been through a lot. Uh, what more could you ask? Right? So it seems like he’s become a more well adjusted, well rounded human being. Uh, but back in the day, interesting insight from the book, and this was out in other books too, was that he was so extreme into this navy seal training, skydiving, uh, doing, uh, some advanced deep sea scuba diving.
Brad: 14:23 Uh, and then of course his deep obsession with chasing the women. And according to the book, the, uh, the public exposure of what was it? A dozen women or so, uh, they, they said this was barely scratching the surface, uh, this lifestyle pattern that this guy was locked into a very interesting, controversial insight, uh, from a friend of mine who knows Tiger. Uh, and this person himself is an Olympic level athlete said this to me and I never forgot it. I thought about it for years after. It’s a pretty, pretty, uh, pretty heavy thing. He said, uh, basically that, uh, Tiger rose to this highest competitive plane that any human has ever risen to. No one compares, no team sport athlete compares to what Tiger has done and the global level of fame and celebrity and attention and scrutiny he’s had anyway, uh, the amount of money involved and the up close nature of golf where you can watch and walk the course with this guy.
Brad: 15:25 So, uh, what my friend said was to manifest this ascension into a higher competitive plane than anyone’s ever been at, he had to create this extreme personality, this incredibly obsessive personality, and become absolutely insatiable for achievement and conquest. And so of course it’s spilled over off the course and into the obsessive pursuit of navy seal training or video gaming or chasing the females and juggling a dozen at a time, this crazy stuff that no one can possibly imagine. But this was a creature who was insatiable and dominant in every way, including chasing the money. So of course he’s going to be a cheapskate and not want to toss a 20, uh, the shoe shine attendant in the golf locker room because it’s all part of this crazy personality, this extreme personality that was necessary. The argument goes by my Olympic athlete friend that was necessary for him to succeed at that level because normal, well-adjusted human would bag, you know, three majors in a row and maybe take it easy and lose a little bit of that competitive edge thinking that he, you know, succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
Brad: 16:43 Uh, a reference for me comes up of Michael Milken. Remember the junk bond king in the 80s? Oh my gosh, this guy got a lot of publicity because he was a, you know, creating this whole new industry of junk bonds and making more money than any single human had ever made. One year back in the late eighties, Michael Milken earned $500 million in income in a single year. And remember what happened to him? He got taken down by the feds in a sort of entrapment wire tapping incident with the convicted, uh, insider trading, uh, and, and a Wall Street through Ivan Boesky. So what happened was Ivan Boesky got busted by the government for insider trading and they said, hey man, we’ll give you a, like a lighter sentence if you can reel in Michael Milken and, uh, you know, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll, uh, convict him of a crime too. It was a great book written about, I forgot the title, but the takeaway for me was like a Milken got totally in trapped.
Brad: 17:39 He didn’t do anything illegal. It, his general everyday course of business has junk bond operation was a questionable, it was a, uh, a different package to the economy had ever seen because it putting together a bunch of a lousy iffy investments, but all together, uh, they pay off with great interest rate and become more, uh, secure. Uh, but what happened was he got reeled in, lured by Boesky into this deal because he could not turn down his greed level was so high that he had to be part of everything and even know he was hesitant over and over. He was hesitant to get into this deal that led to his demise and downfall. He just couldn’t turn that, that voice off that, you know, wanting to consume. Even though he’s making 500 million bucks a year, he wanted to go make a few million extra on a sketchy deal that didn’t feel right to his intuition. Uh, so interesting parallel to Tiger going, going, going until he finally went off the rails.
Brad: 18:34 Okay, breathe ingest and now let’s talk about some positive things. Uh, especially because we’re going to end up this wonderful story with him coming back, seemingly a well adjusted person. Of course he’s always had the charity going in the background, but a lot of times that’s window dressing for celebrities, but he seems to be, you know, authentically committed to helping kids with his learning center, uh, being a good father, all that kind of stuff. And then coming back and competing at the highest level. So my book, written many years ago of course, describe three success factors that made him the greatest athlete. Uh, these were focus a, what I called work play ethics. So the work ethic felt like play, but he had a really strong work ethic and then finally a balanced approach. Uh, so some of that commentary I get to reel back in, but I wrote about how he seemed like he was a, uh, a well adjusted human where he had his charitable efforts and uh, things that kind of, um, uh, interested in him that he contributed to off the course.
Brad: 19:38 Anyway, the book describes, uh, how you can banish a self limiting beliefs and believe in yourself through the process of hard work and focusing on your peak performance goals. So, under the topic of Focus, I talk about this absolute freedom from fear of failure or insecurity that Tiger Woods modeled and continues to model on the golf course. Of course, this total obsession with being the best he can be. He famously broke down his swing numerous times in his career, in the quest to become better and more consistent, even know he was at the very top of the world. It wasn’t good enough to dominate the competition. He was called to the continued pursuit of the highest expression of his talents rather than resting on his laurels. So that’s a great message. Uh, what’s really great is when you can have this killer instinct and competition and this, this quest for where you want to call it perfection or whatever.
Brad: 20:35 But it’s nice to be able to turn that faucet off when the game is over. When the competition is over. Uh, it seems very much like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, even Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan had a little trouble turning the faucet off. And we make this characterization in general that, uh, to be great, you gotta be a freak and, you can’t be a real well adjusted person. But I think we’re getting past that now. One of my favorite examples of that of Usain Bolt where he’s clowning around on the starting line and making faces, and it’s kind of cool to see him able to be soaking up the moment playing to the crowd yet maintaining that focus and that competitive intensity to be, I’m going to call Usain probably the number two athlete in the history of the universe behind Tiger Woods. Maybe they’re tied for number one because his level of domination in this single most competitive athletic event on the planet, which is the hundred meter dash the race to determine the world’s fastest human winning the Olympics over and over three Olympics in a row. Numerous world titles he just absolutely dominated from when he burst on the scene to 2008 to his retirement last year. That’s right up there. And why is the hundred meter dash the most competitive athletic event in the world?
Brad: 21:51 Because every kid on this planet at one point or another has engaged in a foot race against someone else. And I guarantee you that we have indeed discovered the fastest human in the world and the fastest eight of them are in the blocks at the Olympics. These folks come from countries all over the planet. Uh, almost all of them are of West African descent. So you see runners today representing the West African nations or United States, Jamaica, European countries, wherever their citizenship is. A but that’s an interesting genetic insight that’s covered further in the book “Taboo” and also the book, “The Sports Gene” by David Epstein where the genetic attributes of those of West African ancestry predispose them to, uh, being able to perform at the highest level on the planet in the explosive, uh, events like the hundred meter dash.
Brad: 22:48 On the subject of competitive focus. Here’s a quote from the popular golf announcer and funny man, David Ferrity at appeared in the book “Tiger Rules” quote, there are two Tigers. The guy, you see a tournaments and the guy you see off the course, the Tiger you see at tournament’s makes Ben Hogan look as warm and fuzzy as a puppy. Ben Hogan is an old time player who was a notoriously cold competitor, one of the greats of all time. Uh, in terms of his complete focus, everything, fans, media, it’s all swatted away. I have no problem with him walking right past me on the course because I’ve seen the other side, the fun, easy going guy. But something happens when he puts his spikes on. It’s like watching a shark feed. To see a creature that’s so evolved. There’s a beauty to it. It’s taken to an art form in quote from David Ferriety.
Brad: 23:40 So let’s wrap up this breather show with a great appreciation for the competitive focus displayed by Tiger Woods. Maybe give him a break or a second chance, uh, get away from this fascination that we have with a celebrity life and kicking people when they’re down. Uh, whew. These are all real people doing the best they can. And sometimes it ain’t pretty, but Tiger is clawed back to the top level in his sport. And it’s a wonderful thing to be celebrated. And if you ever have a chance to see him perform live on the golf course, it is a spectacle, uh, unrivaled in the world of sport. It is absolutely a phenomenal electric, energized atmosphere that will be an unforgettable experience. Remember, people are surrounding and following, this swarm of people is following and watching his every move on the golf course for five hours. And so just to see the spectacle of the sea of humanity, a chasing him all around and running a hand to try and get a better spot to see him hit his next shot.
Brad: 24:46 And then when he went, when the sea parts, the, the, the crowd parts and the, the ropes form so he can walk to the next tee. And you see this incredible focus and competitive intensity up close and personal a few feet away. And then the absolutely phenomenal athletic accomplishment of crushing these golf balls like these modern players do and hitting it. So unimaginably far, if you’re a golfer going, how do they do it? And creating these amazing shots where he’s curving the ball around a tree and there my hands on the green eight feet away. You cannot appreciate the sport on television as you can when you’re right there watching them and walking with them. So get out there and find them. I told my son, huff, five years ago, now back in 2013, when Tiger was kind of fading away and uh, dealing with another surgery and another layoff, I said, if we ever have a chance to see him perform live, we are going to do it.
Brad: 25:41 And we went and watched him in Los Angeles at the genesis open, a Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles. And it’s well worth the experience. Not to mention watching all the other players, but the Tiger Woods phenomenon is unforgettable. So get out there. If he’s in a town near you, get your ticket. Watch him play golf, even if you’re not a golfer. So let’s end off with five tips to improve your focus from the interesting book, “How Tiger Does It”. It’s still available on amazon.com probably for a dollar 96 or something. We’ll see.
Brad: 26:13 Number one, create an ideal peak performance environment by taking the mechanical steps necessary to promote success. Choose endeavors that are aligned with your highest goals so that you’re ready to be your best every time you compete. String up the gallery ropes to help you maintain focus. Get what I mean to eliminate those distractions. Respect the importance of a routine like Tiger before each round in each shot where he hits his practice shots, he hits few putts. The deliberate pre shot routine is on display on TV wearing. These golfers are looking at the yardage, taking to practice swings, a gathering their wits, settling in and stroking a beautiful shot.
Brad: 26:56 Number two, have the courage and discipline to make difficult decisions in the interest of your peak performance, health and happiness. This includes communicating honestly and directly in difficult relationships or circumstances and severing difficult relationships if necessary. And I think I uh, took that from the book because Tiger has like ditched all these people in his world, his caddy, his coach, his agent. If things weren’t working out, it was like boom, you’re gone. See you later. But always in the interest of, uh, his best interests. Complain if you want or say what you want about loyalty and all those things. But man must be tough to be in that position with everyone wanting to suck up to you and take something off you. So make those difficult decisions in your own life to set yourself up for competitive success. Develop an optimum peak performance style that is true to your basic nature and aligned with your goals.
Brad: 27:54 Number three, pursue peak performance in all areas of life. Focusing only on career or athletic performance brings numerous drawbacks. Snicker, snicker, snicker. Cause I wrote this a few years before we saw the Tiger spectacle play out. However, the tips still hold true, right? Focus on a broad success rather than narrow success. Applying your skills to other challenges and responsibilities creates leverage that supports not only broad success but happiness. Focus on making smooth transitions from one life responsibility to another. Blurring the linesa, compromises performance in each and creates additional stress. How about that man? Leave your work at home and leave your work at the workplace and leave your family life at home. You know, be present. Don’t try to blend things, especially in the age of hyperconnectivity.
Brad: 28:48 Tip number four, expect the unexpected. When you appreciate the rewards of pursuing peak performance, regardless of the outcome, you will not be tripped up when competitive circumstances don’t go according to plan trials, tribulations, and even defeat represent powerful growth opportunities. Tip
Brad: 29:07 Number Five, get out of your own way. Much of our difficulty in focusing stems from our own negative attitudes and actions. Cultivate a positive attitude toward your goals and discard destructive beliefs and behavior patterns to attain the ideal competitive mindset. Maintain a simple approach and an understanding that hard work produces results. Thanks for listening.
Brad: 30:00 Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback. It get over yourself. firstname.lastname@example.org and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop, iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews, and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars and it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to. Thanks for doing it.
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