Dear Tiger….Showing Up is Important

No doubt we have all read about Tiger Woods’ recent “adventure”.   I have been thinking that the negative publicity surrounding the incident must be agonizing for him and his family.  And yet, as a famous person and one who is a role model for so many there must be a message for him in there somewhere, not only as a human being, but also as a leader.

So, here is my letter to him

Dear Tiger,

First, let me say that I am truly sorry for your trouble, whatever it is.  It seems that like the rest of us, you have “stuff” to work through and I wish you well with that, human to human.

Here’s the thing though.  Whether you like it or not, people are interested in your life and what you do with it. You have accomplished some pretty amazing things in your relatively young life and you have given the world, (especially its young people), an outstanding role model to follow.  It seems rather natural for us to be curious when something happens to you that doesn’t fit with that image. And so, when I hear that you have withdrawn from fulfilling your commitment to show up at your own tournament this week, I worry a little.

Of course, if your injuries have truly rendered you incapable of being there, then I apologize for mentioning it but my hunch is that there is more at play here than just the prospect of “playing hurt”.  After all, you have done that before and achieved some really admirable results.

This is different though isn’t it?  This involves embarrassment.  You have made a mistake. The nature of it is your own business, but it is nonetheless a personal mistake that has drawn public attention and a potential feeding frenzy from those whose motives are less than honorable. I can honestly see why you would want to stay at home and hide…really.  But, in choosing to do that, for what it’s worth, I think you are making another mistake.

Here’s why:

In times of strife, one of the worst things a leader can do is become invisible.  People depend on their leaders to show up especially when the going gets tough.  Good leadership calls for full engagement of the backbone.  And that means that sometimes, personal feelings must give way to a greater purpose.  This week’s tournament at Thousand Oaks is your own tournament and one that will benefit your charitable foundation.  What message does it send if you choose not to be there because you have suffered an embarrassment?  Perhaps only you can answer that question but my hunch is that by not showing up you are placing far too much emphasis on something that you would rather keep private.

As you have so often said, you are human and as part of the human race, you get to make mistakes.  In my observations of you, I rather think that even though you say it, you really don’t believe that you are entitled to mess up like the rest of us.  Well, here’s a news flash for you. You are allowed…really.  And when you mess up, you’re also allowed to make whatever amends you need to make; forgive yourself and move on, without having to give credence to those who would judge you or attempt to tarnish your reputation.

You are a fine person who will sometimes do things that are not so fine.  People follow you because they admire you as an outstanding golfer and as a person who contributes to making the world a better place.  They don’t follow you because you are perfect.

I think that if you were to attend and participate in your tournament on Thursday, those who admire you will think all the better of you for the courage it took to show up. And, those who want only to pick at the fringes of your soul through gossip and speculation will lose their edge and move on to other, juicier prospects.

It’s just a thought.  Thanks for your time

Sincerely,

Gwyn


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4 Comments

Filed under communication, Leadership Values, motivating & Inspiring, Self Knowledge

4 responses to “Dear Tiger….Showing Up is Important

  1. Nicely said and very true. Being there and apologetic and moving forward shows character. Sulking, isolating, and licking wounds does not. Yes. It stinks to have one’s private embarrassments and failings be front page material but so are his triumphs. But it’s time to man up, take it on the chin and move on. Like ripping a band aid off. Just get that first appearance over with.

    (All this assumes he’s not really so injured as to not be able to be there as I also suspect. Pride being hurt shouldn’t stop him from being there.)

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Yes, unfortunately fame has its price, as they say. Paying it is the hard part.

      Thanks for your comments, Rich and for coming by.

  2. It is so easy to judge and in the absence of facts make up juicy details. And unfortunately it doesn’t just happen to celebrities. We may never learn what is really happening right now. Yet the stories woven in a leaders absence is evidence that once someone has become a leader, a visible figure whose presence we have come to count on, they can’t be really be invisible even when they don’t show up. The only pathway to making sure that the stories match reality is authenticity. Until then all we will see is a ghost manufactured by rumor rather than truth.

    This letter is amazing. It illuminates your tremendous skill as a coach. I particularly love how you express compassion and are supportive yet at the same time call for him to be the leader he is. What a great way to gently remind leaders that they can have their humanity, but at some point there is no where to hide.

    I hope you sent this to him!

    • Gwyn Teatro

      “they can’t be invisible even when they don’t show up”. I think that sums it up nicely.

      Thank you, Susan, for your insights and your very kind words.

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