What Tiger Woods’s HBO Documentary Taught us About Success

Last night I decided to tune into the HBO two-part documentary on the life of golf’s greatest athlete, Tiger Woods. I had read a few articles about how Woods’s team was less than satisfied with the way that the documentary portrayed some of the tougher moments in his life like the passing of his father, divorce, and his DUI arrest in 2017.

While that was what HBO used for ratings, what I saw as the real gem was the story of his rise to success. In particular, the idea that his success was predetermined in a way that many of us could never truly understand.

The documentary starts with a classic clip of Tiger Woods being the athlete that we’ve known him to be for years. He stood, relatively focused dressed in a white collared shirt with a golf club secured in his hand surrounded by onlookers that were bracing themselves to see the spectacular. The only difference between this scene and most that we’ve been privy to over the years was that this was the year 1977 and Tiger was only two years old. While watching young Tiger defy the odds as a two-year-old, I was immediately intrigued.

My first question was, what impact did this have on his success? And I got my answers once the series started to focus more on the contributions that his dad made towards his career in golf.

Speak Things into Existence.

By now, most of us have been at one time or another exposed to the ideas surrounding the law of attraction. If you haven’t the first place you should probably start is The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, a bestselling novel later turned into a movie that explains the universal law of success as the law of attraction. The law of attraction is the idea that what you focus on and the energy that you surround that focus with will come to fruition.

So how did Tiger Woods use this universal law to become successful? According to the documentary, he had no choice.

From 8 months old, and I would suspect long before he was even born, his father, Earl Woods spoke of Tiger Woods being the best to ever play professional golf.

There’s a part of the documentary where the father and son duo are at a banquet during Tiger’s teenage years and Earl makes a speech in which he says “Sometimes I get very emotional when I talk about my son… My heart fills with so much joy when I realize that this young man is going to help so many people…The world will be a better place to live in by virtue of his existence and his presence.”

If you want to be good, compete against the best. If you want to be great, compete against yourself.

Another point in the documentary that I found quite fascinating was Tiger Woods’s ascension into greatness. It was most clearly seen through the point in which Tiger had won 4 major titles back to back, and instead of celebrating, chose to improve his swing.

This was significant because while winning these titles he wasn’t just beating his competition, he was demolishing them. When asked about why he would start changing his physique and his swing, he mentioned how there is always the ability to improve.

Put in the Time

Many times in the documentary, HBO highlighted the fact that Tiger Woods had to choose golf over everything. For example, in college, he was in love with a woman, who was interviewed for the documentary and had to break up with her and vow to never see her again. This was all to ease the frustrations of his parents who thought that she was distracting him from his destiny.

They believed that he had to put in all his time, effort, and focus into golf to be great.

He practiced all the time, and there was even an anecdotal story told by his former caddy of how he pulled over on the freeway to practice his swing because he couldn’t wait until they got home.

Conclusion

So at the end of this documentary, I continued to contemplate how Tiger Woods achieved the seemingly unachievable. I guess we can always question this feat similarly to the chicken and the egg argument. What came first?

Was he successful because he believed his father’s words of affirmation growing up, or was it because he was treated like a successful golfer since the age of two? Or maybe it was because between believing his father and golfing since 8 months old, he easily reached his 10,000 hours of practice needed to achieve mastery?

Whatever the answer is, it is clear that Tiger Woods’s story truly highlights the nuances of success and what it truly means to achieve greatness.

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