Dec 14th, 2018

Mental Lessons from Tiger Woods

How the Legend’s Mind Works

There are some athletes who seem to transcend their sport and become names so big that even people who have little interest in their respective sports know who they are.

One man who ranks alongside the most iconic sportsmen of all time is Tiger Woods, with the most famous golfer ever to grace the sport recently overcoming injury to enjoy an extended run at the top of his sport.

Following injury troubles, Tiger Woods sought to reinvent himself on the course.

How does Tiger Woods' mind work?

There can be no doubt that success truly does breed success. This is evidenced by the litany of Tiger Woods' major honors, and while it would take a considerably long time to go through everything he has ever won, these honors – amongst others noted on PGA Tour – most notably include three US Open titles, three Open Championships, four PGA Championships and four Masters Tournaments, in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005.

Though golf is not the most physically demanding sport, everyone – including Dr Deborah Graham of GolfPsych – will agree that the psychological pressure associated with it is at least equal to anything else in the world of professional sports. What is needed, then, is a mindset that can ensure success. How exactly our minds react to success is a fascinating process that can be summarized in four main points: As outlined in a Betway Casino article about the brain's reaction to success, competitive situations provoke the brain into releasing testosterone. This sparks the aggression and selfishness needed to display certain attitudes that can lead to winning. Then, neurons begin firing in the brain to calculate risk/reward - i.e. whether such aggression is worth it. After we've won, the dopamine feedback loop logs how victory was achieved, for the future, while the reward network logs an association between winning and positive emotions.

Because of this, the article notes that winners are more likely to continue winning. In golf, only a select few will ever feel what it is like to stroll onto a fairway during a major championship and line up a crucial putt, with the expectant crowd waiting on a shot. At that moment, the fear of failure – or lack thereof – can also be a huge part of the winning mentality.

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Will to win beats fear of failure

If Tiger Woods has ever had a fear of failure, he has hidden it very well. On the occasions he has won major honors, his ability to defeat any fears have given him some exceptionally good margins of victory, including:

The 2000 U.S Open (15-stroke win)

1997 Masters (12 strokes)

2000 Open Championship (8 strokes)

2005 Open Championship (5 strokes)

2006 PGA Championship (5 strokes)

It's all very well winning, but in golf, failure and agonising defeats are inevitable. Despite all his success, Woods has in fact lost many more tournaments than he has won. As noted by Golf.com, even Woods is not immune to the occasional howler, and being able to put them to the back of your mind is always difficult. He obviously doesn't enjoy it, but it drives him on to become a success, and it seems like every failure or setback makes him more determined.

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Top 10: Tiger Woods Shots on the PGA TOUR. 

Hard work is everything.

Such is his skill, Woods' will to win and work hard for his achievements, that it has always been stronger than any fears of failure. The positive fallout from this is further reflected in his net worth and career earnings. As of 2017, Woods had won as much as $10.6 million in one season. His total earnings from PGA tours alone (between 1996 and 2017) were $110,061,012 prior to the 2016/17 season. Including money earned through off-course activities, Golf Digest calculates a gross income of just over $1.45 billion.

The fact that Tiger Woods recently turned down nearly $3m to play in Saudi Arabia speaks volumes, and in using his success to go above and beyond his duties on the course, Woods stands as a superlative example of hard work paying off. For that reason, perhaps the greatest lesson that you can get from Tiger Woods is the one where if you want to succeed at something, you have to work hard for it every day – after all, Woods’ luxury yacht, made by Christensen Shipyards, didn’t buy itself!

There have been many famous quotes about hard work and success, but they all revolve around the fact that working hard increases your chances of success. Some people get luckier than others, while some might have more natural talent, but there can’t be any success without hard work. Ultimately, these principles have made Woods into one of the greatest sports stars ever, and his example can be used in any walk of life.

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Mental Lessons from Tiger Woods

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