Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Upside to Tiger's Legacy

Good judgment comes from experience.

Experience comes from bad judgment.

---Oscar Wilde

The rich and powerful have an extra burden to bear: resisting the temptations that easily come their way and in so doing demonstrating to others strength of character. If fame comes early in life, such as in the case of Tiger Woods, the test of character is even more difficult. It’s easy to get “messed up” if the normal process of growing up is interrupted. If parents and significant others around a young person get caught up in the “not normal” environment, checks and balances becomes endangered species. The same applies in an organization. If a boss’s “bad” behaviour is allowed to run amok wreaking emotional havoc among employees, “good” character takes a back seat to “anything goes”. The collateral damage is considerable.

In the early days of my career in the health field debate raged about who was responsible for personal health. The individual? The system? A combination? Stop “blaming the victim” loomed large among the proponents that it’s the system that does it. Other more hard-nosed pundits and researchers said flat out that when push comes to shove the individual is responsible. In the end, the consensus is that both matter. Which is more important depends on the situation.

With Tiger, something went awry in the development of his value-system. He joined a burgeoning group of sports celebrities, politicians and CEOs who have lost their way and been found out. The system of support that Tiger had, whatever it was, was insufficient to help him self-correct.

The upside to Tiger’s downfall is the lesson for the younger generation of golfers. Although his ex-wife Elin Nordegren professes to have been totally unaware of his infidelities, you can bet that within the golf community the guys knew but kept their counsel. That the most famous athlete in the world who happens to be a pro golfer can be caught and fall from grace leaves a strong message for all up and coming young pro golfers and athletes in general: watch your values and habits. They could come back to haunt you.

Thoughts and habits do define one’s character. We all have a choice and it helps to have a few stern friends along the way.