We Can All Learn Something From Tiger

Tiger’s back! That was the headline a little over a month ago when Tiger Woods won the Masters, his first major championship since 2008. His struggles, both professional and personal, have been well documented over the past decade as has his quest to reinvent his golf game via physical and mental resets.

While I am not a huge golf or Tiger Woods fan, I do have a deep appreciation for the work ethic and intestinal fortitude required to be a world-class athlete so I was intrigued when I saw this article outlining a key lesson from his recent victory. Namely, Tiger’s willingness to change his clubs in order to improve his game. The real story is Tiger has changed virtually everything about his game – his swing, preparation, tournament routine, clubs, you name it he probably changed it – in order to regain his stature as one of the worlds all-time greatest golfers.

It’s actually fascinating when you think about it. Here’s a world-class athlete, blessed with incredible natural skills, who absolutely owned the golfing world for 15 years before he fell off the proverbial cliff only to crawl back out of a very deep hole by changing …. well just about everything that had placed him on the top of the golf mountain in the first place. Rather than “doubling-down” on those things that had worked for him in the past, he went back to the beginning and literally reinvented his game.

Clearly it’s more comfortable to do what we know by staying in our comfort zones and working hard to make our challenges fit our particular paradigm; and yet, I’ve heard that “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”(actually I watched it being said at about the two and one-half minute mark of this video ).

I believe in this theory of disruption; sometimes changing things just for change’ sake. We operate in a business that tends to reward consistency – doing the same thing over and over again. Forcing each challenge into our particular toolbox; believing in a system to which we are completely and totally dedicated, allowing us to achieve certain efficiencies and economies of scale but also perhaps unintentionally discouraging innovation and creativity.

The problem is sometimes the toolbox doesn’t have the right tools! It’s in these situations that we have to ask ourselves if we simply keep digging around until we find a tool that might help us solve a problem or do we embrace change and the ensuing chaos as we seek the very best solution for a unique challenge/opportunity? I believe the root of things is not making assumptions or pre-emptory decisions based on a commitment to some static, rigid system or pre-conceived notion. In today’s framework, I think the real opportunity lies in being inventive, perhaps even unconventional, taking calculated risks because we also believe life begins at the edge of our comfort zones!

The next time you are feeling stale, at a competitive disadvantage or find yourself faced with a particularly gnarly challenge, ask yourself “what can we do differently? How can we change in order to get better ….. more responsive ….. creative ….. cutting-edge ….. avant-garde?!”

This is one area where we could all benefit by being a little more like Tiger!

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