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Tiger Woods' Masters Win and UVA Basketball's National Championship

Posted by Chip Block on April 16, 2019 12:15 PM EDT
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Tiger Woods' phenomenal achievement of winning the 2019 Masters event after a historic early career record and subsequent decline is replete with important leadership and individual performance lessons.  And add in the UVA basketball team's historic achievement of winning the 2019 NCAA national basketball championship...

...and you get some key ingredients to the recipe of winning after losing.  Both offer great learning lessons and insights into individual and team success on a grand scale.  Couple the fact that both occurred in the spring-a time of renewal and the stage is set for comparing career recovery and performance. 

Much will be written and shown on many media platforms and throughout the annals of sports history of the two stunning examples of sports turnarounds in the modern era...or perhaps any sports era.  Tiger Woods' success when he came on the professional golf tour scene was truly a thing of beauty.  His impact on the game of golf was undeniable.  And his fall from grace, due in large part to personal foibles, painful to contemplate and discuss.  So, in recent years it has been energizing to witness Tiger's improvements in his effort to regain some of the status and excellence that he once had.  Everyone loves the story of a great fallen hero regaining what was once taken for granted.  And the grace, courage, and persistence that Tiger has shown as he steadily moved up in his performance on the modern pro gold tour have been inspiring to fans and others alike.

So, his winning the most coveted of all the major events seems in some ways like a thing from a great classic movie or book.  And the love shown to him by fans and the love and respect he showed his family and fans when the great moment happened on Sunday in Augusta was a thing of beauty-and marvel.

Seeing the fall last year of UVA's tremendous success throughout the year with a historic loss in the first round of the 2018 NCAA national basketball tourney to the 16th seed, was also a painful thing to witness.  Imagining the steady and sustained improvement of the UVA basketball program over the initial first 8 years of coach Tony Bennett's tenure was hard to fathom.  Yet it happened.  More was made out of diagnosing the failure of UVA's basketball program in such a historic loss in such a key moment during the best season among a series of truly great seasons.  What went wrong?  Why did it happen?  What will become of UVA's program going forward?

Well, as Tiger proved on Sunday in one of the world's more visible individual sports' largest stage-The Masters, career recovery and excellence can be achieved.  And as UVA proved on a couple of weeks earlier, in the world of team sports, redemption and continued focus and determination to work on building upon success, not basking in failure, could bring the ultimate prize in due course.

So, as a management consultant, with a bias to benefits that support healthier lives, key lessons to me among both successes are obvious.  Here are the ones that stand out as most relevant:

1. In all endeavors, overcoming obstacles by focusing on doing what you do best is much more important than focusing on mistakes

2. It takes the support of others to stay on track and win the ultimate prize.

3. "It ain't over until the fat lady sings"...persistence, belief and a positive attitude can lead to victories in all endeavors.  Winston Churchill's seven-word speech:  Never, give up, never, never give up" prevails always.

4. Vision matters, constant execution Stephen Covey has famously written, "Begin with the end in sight, first things first and 

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive ...
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. ...
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First. ...
  • Habit 4: Think Win/Win. ...
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. ...
  • Habit 6: Synergize
  • Habit 7: Renewal and Continual Improvement

5. Teamwork, whether in individual achievements through support, guidance, and feedback or through team endeavors requires fierce dedication and adherence to disciplined execution, preparation, and accountability.

6.  Humility when winning is important, regaining confidence when failing is even more important.  One step at a time....can lead to big leaps at the right "tipping point".

7. Recovery, redemption, reinvention, resurrection, and reassurance are all words that start with R and apply to all aspects of human endeavor whether those be in sports, science, the arts or in servitude to others.

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