Tiger Woods: A Lesson in Thinking for Ourselves

I was in my car listening to talk-radio when the topic of the hour was Tiger Woods’ breaking of his 3-month silence with a public apology that occurred today.  I heard lots of “perspectives”… from talk show hosts and their callers to excerpts from columnists and reporters.  What I heard over and over was the “scripted” nature of Woods’ apology and how managed it all seemed.  Further, there was apparently a general consensus that he had done it for business reasons more than anything else…in an effort to salvage his career and rebuild his image in order to win back lost sponsors. 

When I arrived home, there was more of the same on television news shows.  In fact, I heard a sports agent confirm that it was all done, in fact, to ease his way back onto the golf circuit with some respectability.  And finally, I heard from an “expert” that “He should have done this 3 months ago when it all happened.”  Somehow, according to the expert’s opinion, the delayed mea culpa had diminished the message and its veracity.

Then I went on YouTube to watch Tiger Woods for myself.

What I saw was, yes, a somewhat stiff and scripted man who was clearly uncomfortable with what he was doing.  And, yes, I heard references to his business commitments, his fans and the press.  But more than anything I was struck by how many times, and with how much straightforward language, he took responsibility for his actions, his arrogance, his bad decisions and the hurt he caused his family.

Of course, only time will tell…as is the case with contrition.  Its easy to express and hard to live.  But I took heart for several reasons:

1.  He minced no words in taking full responsibility for all of it.

2.  He owned up to his arrogance.

3.  He acknowledged who he hurt and what it has cost him.

4.  He admitted to full-time counseling and the intention to continue with it.

5.  He asked that friend’s and fans have patience with him as he struggles to understand why he did what he did.      

6.  He asked for the press to honor the privacy of his wife and children to protect them from further hurt and humiliation.

7.  He admitted thinking that ordinary rules didn’t apply to him and that he was entitled to do whatever he wanted.

Contrary to the commentator’s criticism of the timing, I think had Woods given an apologetic press conference a few days after being caught at flagrant and repeated infidelity he would have been saying he was sorry he got caught.  It is certainly reasonable to believe that it has taken at least this amount of time for him to genuinely begin to see and understand what he did and the enormity of it all.

There are two important lessons in all of this. One global and one personal. 

Globally, we are living through a time of transition when deceit and arrogance will be revealed when and where they crop up.  The importance of such revelation is talking full responsibility for one’s actions regardless of how painful.  No pain, no gain as they say in sports…no pun intended.  It’s the only way to cure the world of what ails it.

Personally, it was a perfect lesson in why each of us has to make up our own minds based upon our own personal experience…not place blind faith in the advice and opinions of experts or persons with apparent authority.

Had I not watched Woods myself, but relied instead upon the pundits, commentators, reporters and broadcasters, I could never have concluded, as I have, that he gets it, he means it and he’s trying to salvage not only his career but his family life.

As I said earlier, easy to say hard to do.  But I’m with him on this one… unless and until he proves me wrong.
Everyone who genuinely seeks it deserves that second chance.

We’ve all been there…one way or another.

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