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    Who’s Your Tiger?

    I caught a few minutes of an interview recently between Charlie Rose, the acclaimed PBS interviewer and recent CBS morning news host, and Jim Nantz, CBS Sportscaster for The Masters’ Golf tournament. The key topic of course was Tiger Woods and his chances of again winning this major tournament. According to Nantz, Tiger’s left knee has been operated on four times, literally rebuilt, but that process has spawned a number of other injuries related to the knee, including Achilles tendon issues. If he is to succeed in his quest to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of major championship wins, Tiger needs to win five more majors. Assuming his body holds up another 10 years, with four majors a year, 40 in total, he should be able to easily best Nicklaus. 

    Interestingly though, they commented that the field of golfers has changed significantly since Tiger’s last major win four years ago. Instead of just the golfers in their 30s and 40s, most of whom have been mentally and physically intimidated by Tiger’s skill, there is a new crop of younger golfers in their 20s emerging who are poised and ready to establish and define their own era of golf. They’re not intimidated by Tiger, or used to him beating them by double digit strokes. They’re confident and fearless.


    I’m not a huge golfing fan so I sought out my local golf pro (my husband) to gain insight on whether Tiger really upped the level of the game, or were the new younger golfers just better. His opinion was that Tiger’s focus and commitment to the game taught other would-be players about the importance of body strength, practice and pure skill. This interview was really thought provoking, so I have two questions for you. Who’s your Tiger? And how do you respond to him?

    A Spirit Of Defeat

    During the 15+ years since Tiger turned pro, golfers his age and older have become acquainted with his talent, and learned the difficulty of facing off with him in a tournament. His very presence draws a crowd both in person and on TV, and competitors know that he will up the ante of the game. It’s not just a physical game, it’s a mental one as well. Like David facing Goliath, his very presence can be taunting and overwhelming to some. Second place could almost be as good as winning if you lose to Tiger. This is a spirit of defeat, accepting loss even before you play the game or go through the process.

    So what “Tigers” are in your life? Are they looming challenges that you can’t imagine overcoming? Maybe it’s a career goal, educational aspiration, organizational challenge, family issue, or your own mental picture of your capability and worth. You’ve failed so frequently in this area, been beaten, and had no though that you might come out on top. You’ve given up even before you entered the race.


    Then there’s another younger group of golfers who haven’t experienced years of defeat at the hand of the champion. They’ve had time to study him, learn from his moves, and perfect their own style. Maybe they’re cocky, maybe they’re naïve, or maybe they’re just really good. Time will tell, but they’re starting out with a fresh mental attitude about their capabilities and future on the tour. They may respect Tiger, but they won’t yield to him. Give them the opportunity and they’ll march into battle and boldly snatch the victory.

    So what about you?

    Is it possible for you to recreate your mindset from a spirit of defeat to one of fearlessness? When you’re facing your giants, do you think of how you’re equipped to overcome them, or do you think about all the reasons why it will be difficult? In fact, do you even consider them as giants, or just a stepping stone to victory?

    The Bible has numerous examples of situations where God’s people faced enemies stronger and greater in number than them. Yet because He was on their side, they emerged victorious. In one situation, Gideon led a band of 300 brave men to take on an army as numerous as the sand. But before they went out against that army, he and his servant snuck into the enemy camp at night and overheard one soldier sharing a dream with his companion. In his dream, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into their camp and struck a tent, overturning it so that it collapsed. The companion interpreted the dream (correctly) to mean that their entire army would be delivered into Gideon’s hand. After returning to camp, Gideon mustered his small army and led his men to victory. They simply surrounded the enemy, blew their trumpets and shouted God’s victory, then watched the enemy slaughter one another.

    So who or what is your Tiger, and how will you face him? If you replay old mental models of defeat you’re on the wrong track. Visualize yourself winning. Define yourself as a champion. Set a new standard. Be fearless.

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