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The Power of a Change in Attitude: Five Lessons from Tiger Woods' Comeback

Image of a teen girl sitting against a mirror, looking over the top of her sunglasses. Raleigh psychotherapy, counseling, Katherine Broadway

It was recently pointed out to me that Tiger Woods is making a comeback. For those of you who are not golf fans, Tiger is considered to be one of the all-time greatest golfers. He was ranked number one less than a year after he turned pro, and stayed there from August 1999 to September 2004. He has run the gamut from being the darling of the circuit to being the bad boy with temper tantrums and a stormy personal life.

For several years, he has struggled with back problems and had numerous surgeries to try to correct them. He took time off to recover and is now back to the game he loves. What caught my attention was that he seems to have come back to the game with a new attitude. When he was on top of his game and the PGA tour, he was a perfectionist, overly serious and stoic. This new incarnation of a leading talent seems to be someone who can have fun and laugh at himself. He is willing to tell stories about his life with his children and even share a smile and a laugh while playing.

Five lessons to learn from the Tiger Woods of 2018.

1. A winning attitude is a positive attitude.

He appears relaxed, talking to spectators and telling stories when the play gets backed up. It seems he no longer gets angry and overly frustrated with himself when is less than perfect.

Perfection is a myth. It does not exist. When you make your conscious or unconscious goal to be perfect, you will always fail. To be the best you can be is a goal to work toward, but not demand of yourself. Easy does it.

2. You do not have to be the best to have a winning attitude and to be a winner.

Jack Nicklaus asked the question, “...can he be as good as ever?” He is 42 years old, and has had seven back surgeries. It is not possible and it is not necessary. Tiger is a winner by virtue of returning to a sport he loves.

It was reported that Tiger wanted to finish in the top ten at the Honda Open. He was number 12. I am sure he was disappointed, but still, he played. Some parts of his game were where he wanted them to be, some were not. Still he remained positive and will continue to move forward.

When we do our best, attempt to grow, and stay mindful of ourselves, we are winners. To be able to do that 80% of the time creates an amazing life.

3. A winning attitude leads you to be kind and friendly toward others.

One aspect of success that is often over looked is the social/relational aspect. How can you truly be successful, if you do not care about others? We are created to be in relationship and to give to others.

At one tournament, Tiger was paired with 21-year-old Sam Burns. There was a time in Tiger’s career that his presence was enough to cause another golfer to be intimidated. Sam’s experience was much different. Instead, Tiger talked to him and broke the ice.

Burns beat Tiger by 2 strokes, turning this into an experience he will always remember.

4. A winning attitude gives support and encourage others.

After the round was finished, Tiger praised Burns saying, “He played beautifully... and this week was a big step for him.” It takes more than hard work to be a champion. Tiger gave Burns something invaluable: support and encouragement from a champion. Burns said of his round, “We had a blast...It’s something I always wanted since I was a kid....”

During a practice round, he gave Justin Thomas tips on how to hit a shot that he has had trouble mastering. It's another example of Tiger giving back.

When you are experienced and accomplished and you give to those who are just starting, you are securing the future. We need to pass our wisdom on to others. Tiger could have made that a very different experience for Burns, if he had been rude and intimidating.

5. Having a winning attitude improves your life and your health.

Data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study showed that individuals with a positive attitude were less likely to have cardiovascular disease and strokes. A positive attitude leads to less depression and anxiety. Although Tiger will still occasionally roll his eyes and show signs of frustration, he is learning the most valuable lesson in life: what makes a champ is a winning attitude.

Tiger will always be a champion whether he wins any more tournaments. The glory always fades, your abilities will diminish over time, and, eventually, there will always be someone better. What is lasting is your attitude, how you treat yourself and others and what you give. That is what determines a true winner.

Are you struggling with discouragement and feeling like a failure? I can help. Call me at: (919)881-2001.

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