Tiger Woods’ Masters win on Sunday, April 14 is being called the greatest comeback story in the history of sports. His 5th Masters title comes 14 years after his last, and those years in between are full of challenges and tragedies that made many doubt in his ability to, not only continue to compete, but to continue to play.
Tiger Woods and the Giraffe Mindset
As a competitor, Tiger Woods’ chronic back pain and suspected herniated disk was sure to have been a low blow, on top of his other personal struggles. For one of the greatest golfers in history, an athlete who redefined the game of golf and inspired a new generation of fans and golfers alike, facing a lifetime of chronic pain and a low likelihood of ever competing again is a low many would have a hard time recovering from.
In August 2012, Tiger Woods’ decline started with lower back pain at The Barclays, now The Northern Trust tournament, and within the next year, his pain was enough to cause him to withdraw from numerous tournaments and end his winning streak.
Tiger Woods had begun his journey to a giraffe mindset, beginning with a violent birth.
A Violent Birth – The Cycle of Falls and Rises
Giraffes are vulnerable at birth. The event is a rude awakening, a survival test, and a rough-and-tumble introduction onto the plains of Africa.Chapter 3 | Giraffes of Technology
Tiger Woods has been at his lowest in recent years, in constant, severe pain, unable to walk without help or even easily get out of bed in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Another shot at playing in the majors seemed a far off dream.
But the giraffe mindset forces an answer to the question: Do I lie still or rise?
Tiger chose to rise.
“Giving up is never in the equation. Pushing and being competitive is what got me into this situation, but it’s also what got me out of it.”Tiger Woods
Much like the story of Robert Carter in Giraffes of Technology, a fall in a career is illuminated with a strike to the ground, a dashing of dreams. But like a baby giraffe after a violent birth, those with a giraffe mindset choose to rise. Robert Carter rose from his career’s fall due in large part to learning from his father’s work ethic, and went on to create a successful business that wins multi-million dollar contracts from federal agencies and corporate clients.
Last Sunday, Tiger Woods rose from his career’s fall in the most dramatic comeback story in the history of sports.
The Lions of Change
The ugly reality is that we all face lions, even with giraffe-inspired leadership. It’s not easy to know when to avoid danger, stand firm, or execute that lethal kick like giraffes do in the wild. Few of us respond with calm to the lion’s attack. But these real-world emotional conflicts—and our responses to them—are often the most important learning opportunities throughout a forty-year career.Chapter 5 | Giraffes of Technology
Lions have a violent goal – to hide, stalk, and kill. They aren’t easy to spot from where they crouch in the dense African brush, even for the vertically-gifted giraffe.
Tiger Woods’ lions of personal struggles, physical failure, chronic pain, and a failing career were not predators anyone could have foreseen during his early career’s rise. His lions stopped and yanked him off the path of moving forward and he was thrust backward into the primitive mode of “survive or die.”
But a giraffe can see past these times of lions and change by calling on their “lookout post” strengths. Tiger Woods used his lookout post to see beyond his current situation, electing for a surgery that fused his spine with the goal of being pain-free.
After the successful surgery, Tiger kept moving forward, grasping new opportunities to grow and change, adjusting his swing, his exercises, his training. Colleagues mention witnessing Tiger on the course over the past year, challenging himself, pushing himself to get back into competitive shape.
Tiger Woods, the greatest comeback story in the history of sports, has solidified himself as a giraffe of the golf course and athletes everywhere.