Dealing With Failure: Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

Life, balance, success, failure – What defines you?

We’ve had a lot of discussion recently here at Life Without Pants about life, balance, and failure. I’ve raised the question, ‘how do you define yourself’ – Are you defined by the work you do? The people you surround yourself with, your independence, your failures, your successes? What defines who you are? What drives you and motivates you? And how to you react when handed criticism and adversity? What do you do when you try, and fail?

The Masters tournament is the epitome of golf as a sport – walking away with the green jacket is arguably one of the greatest achievements an individual can achieve. Last weekend, millions of people watched one of the most dramatic finishes in recent history. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, two of the best, if not the best golfers in the world, were paired together in the final round. Playing an hour ahead of the leaders,  throughout the day, the duo swapped birdie for birdie, refusing to concede. In the end, they both lost the war to Cabrera. It wasn’t the fact that they both lost that’s important, it’s how each man handled defeat that speaks volumes.

After walking off the 18th green the press approached Tiger Woods; asking if he had enjoyed his role in a spectacle that captured the imagination of the thousands on the Augusta premises, and millions watching on television, his response was cold and grim:

“You just go about your own business. I was just trying to post an 11 under par, to shoot a 65,” he replied. “I hit it so badly warming up. I was hitting quick hooks, blocks, you name it. On the very first hole I almost hit it into [the eighth] fairway — one of the worst tee shots I’ve ever hit starting out. I fought my swing all day.”

Unlike Woods, when Mickelson was proposed a similar question, he was able to share in his excitement over what had been one of the more thrilling days for golf in years:

“It was fun, a very emotional day because it’s up and down, up and down, a lot of highs and lows,” he said. “The crowd made the highs even higher and the moans made the lows even lower, and it was just an emotional day.”

Their responses left a lot for interpretation – and led many to argue that Woods ‘cares more’ because of his anger and hatred of failure. Some would argue that this means he is more passionate about what he does and cares more about winning than someone who can shrug it off and smile. I disagree.

How do you want to be remembered?

There is no debating Woods’ desire. Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer ever. Period. But one of the things that seems to be missing, one of the few things he doesn’t seem to have wrapped around his finger, is the concept of humility. There are many great champions in many sports around the world that will forever be remembered. But it is those who show that their human, that they can appreciate the game for what it is, a game, and who are able to remain humble, through success and defeat, that are loved by generations. Phil gets this, Tiger does not. Woods will forever be remembered as a colossal talent, as a fierce competitor, but what will we remember him as a person? He will continue to achieve great things but at what price to his reputation as a sportsman and, more importantly, as a human being?

I’m a Phil Mickelson kind of guy – I don’t let my success and failure define who I am – no matter where life takes me, I always want to remember that there are bigger things than work, there are more important ‘defining’ aspects than my performance on a given day. Obviously, I’m not in the spotlight Woods is in, and I never will be – but wherever my life does take me, I will strive to always remain humble – to me remembered first as a good person – my career success falls somewhere further down the line of what defines my legacy. I’m that guy who can take a step back and appreciate things on a grander scale.

‘Humility’ is not synonymous with ‘apathy’

Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio had a long discussion on this yesterday – Looking at it from a sport fan’s perspective, think about watching a team you love – they lose a big game, and then afterward you see them smiling and laughing, it makes you angry. You’re sitting there wanting to punch a hole through a wall, and there shaking hands with their opponent smiling and joking around. To this, again, I think you have to take a step back – humility is not synonymous with apathy – in fact, it shows an appreciation for the ‘grand scheme of things.

Mike Ditka once said, “Success is not permanent and failure is not fatal”.

How do you define failure? How does failure define you? Are you a ‘Woods’ or a ‘Mickelson’?

Join the conversation! 38 Comments

  1. Interesting topic. Although, I disagree with you on what differentiates Tiger Woods from Mickelson. I don’t think it is about humility, it is about how they see life generally. When Mickelson sees it as a fun ride, where he can have his share of success and failure, while Woods seems to see it as a constant fight against his better self. While both may enjoy great successes in their life, one can easily imagine the one that will have more happiness in life. The one that can live life as a game, learn from failure and savour successes.

    Reply
    • Great thoughts Nathalie – I would much rather be the guy that can admit defeat, but step back and be thankful for it all. Phil lost the Masters, the biggest tournament in his game and he COULD have won, he was that close – but he lost. And as he walked off the course he smiled and thought to himself “Yeah, I just lost one of the biggest tournaments of my career by a couple of strokes, but I have an amazing life, all the money in the world, a beautiful wife and kids, life is good!” That’s much better than kicking yourself and being pissed off at the world, letting your failure define your character.

      Reply
  2. Interesting topic. Although, I disagree with you on what differentiates Tiger Woods from Mickelson. I don’t think it is about humility, it is about how they see life generally. When Mickelson sees it as a fun ride, where he can have his share of success and failure, while Woods seems to see it as a constant fight against his better self. While both may enjoy great successes in their life, one can easily imagine the one that will have more happiness in life. The one that can live life as a game, learn from failure and savour successes.

    Reply
    • Great thoughts Nathalie – I would much rather be the guy that can admit defeat, but step back and be thankful for it all. Phil lost the Masters, the biggest tournament in his game and he COULD have won, he was that close – but he lost. And as he walked off the course he smiled and thought to himself “Yeah, I just lost one of the biggest tournaments of my career by a couple of strokes, but I have an amazing life, all the money in the world, a beautiful wife and kids, life is good!” That’s much better than kicking yourself and being pissed off at the world, letting your failure define your character.

      Reply
  3. If I had to decide between Tiger and Mickelson, I would say that I am a Mickelson. First, because I am a Southpaw. More importantly, because I consciously make an effort to enjoy life and what I have achieved in the past. There is a lot to be said for Tiger’s drive, because he is the best golfer in history. I fear that competitors like him will never be able enjoy their successes because they are always striving for the next challenge.

    Did you guys happen to see a few years ago in the Masters where he did poorly? He was filmed angrily hitting golf balls at the driving range after going through his 18 holes. He couldn’t even take a break for the rest of the day after having a bad outing!

    Is there a third option to say that I am a Cabrera kind of guy? Whether it was of my own doing or not, I often find myself fighting back from a deficit. I could not believe that he won the playoff after hitting several trees, that is how I golf in real life! I am sure that most people who were watching on television had counted him out after his ball settled directly behind a large tree. I think it is important to try our best with the hands we are dealt, even when the majority of other people have counted us out.

    Reply
    • Ben – I completely agree with the Cabrera analogy, both on and off the golf course, I have that ‘playing from behind’ mindset a lot of the time (ok, ALL the time when I’m on the course). But there’s always something to be said for the underdog – when all odds are against you, the best really comes out. As for Tiger, he will undoubtedly be remembered as the greatest GOLFER, but perhaps at the mercy of being remembered as a good human being.

      Reply
  4. If I had to decide between Tiger and Mickelson, I would say that I am a Mickelson. First, because I am a Southpaw. More importantly, because I consciously make an effort to enjoy life and what I have achieved in the past. There is a lot to be said for Tiger’s drive, because he is the best golfer in history. I fear that competitors like him will never be able enjoy their successes because they are always striving for the next challenge.

    Did you guys happen to see a few years ago in the Masters where he did poorly? He was filmed angrily hitting golf balls at the driving range after going through his 18 holes. He couldn’t even take a break for the rest of the day after having a bad outing!

    Is there a third option to say that I am a Cabrera kind of guy? Whether it was of my own doing or not, I often find myself fighting back from a deficit. I could not believe that he won the playoff after hitting several trees, that is how I golf in real life! I am sure that most people who were watching on television had counted him out after his ball settled directly behind a large tree. I think it is important to try our best with the hands we are dealt, even when the majority of other people have counted us out.

    Reply
    • Ben – I completely agree with the Cabrera analogy, both on and off the golf course, I have that ‘playing from behind’ mindset a lot of the time (ok, ALL the time when I’m on the course). But there’s always something to be said for the underdog – when all odds are against you, the best really comes out. As for Tiger, he will undoubtedly be remembered as the greatest GOLFER, but perhaps at the mercy of being remembered as a good human being.

      Reply
  5. Matt, another incredibly insightful post! The question of how we want to be remembered is an important one. You are so right when you say that it’s the athletes who show that they are human who are remembered by generations. People who are so consumed with success often lose sight of who they are. Your outlook is a great one. And, I can definitely relate with the wanting to punch a wall after my team loses thing, so thanks for pointing out that humility is not the same as apathy. I’ll try to remember that next time!

    Reply
    • I need to take my own advice on that one Sam. You don’t want to be around me when my Titans or Bears take a loss, then I see the next morning that half the players were out celebrating. I’m like “I was sitting at home sobbing while these guys were out partying – something isn’t right here!” – deep breaths, relax, it’s just a game, right?

      Reply
  6. Matt, another incredibly insightful post! The question of how we want to be remembered is an important one. You are so right when you say that it’s the athletes who show that they are human who are remembered by generations. People who are so consumed with success often lose sight of who they are. Your outlook is a great one. And, I can definitely relate with the wanting to punch a wall after my team loses thing, so thanks for pointing out that humility is not the same as apathy. I’ll try to remember that next time!

    Reply
    • I need to take my own advice on that one Sam. You don’t want to be around me when my Titans or Bears take a loss, then I see the next morning that half the players were out celebrating. I’m like “I was sitting at home sobbing while these guys were out partying – something isn’t right here!” – deep breaths, relax, it’s just a game, right?

      Reply
  7. Great thoughts, Matt. Although I agree with you on your views on life and failure, I don’t agree with your takes on Tiger.

    I think everyone has some kind of attitude what Tiger and Mickelson have. Some time, we behave like Tiger and most of the time we behave like Mickelson. But to become to the best in the field, you have to have attitude of Tiger. Now, I don’t think that Tiger can not admit defect. You cannot just define a person from his behavior on one take, especially when you are talking about Tiger. Now, this post can easily be linked to other post- ‘Should we have higher standards for public figures?’ NO, we should not. And I am not biased to Tiger. I think it’s a fun ride for Tiger too, just like Mickelson. It might be different kind of fun for Tiger, though.

    What I am trying to say is, when you know what you could do and have work very hard to achieve it, it’s really hard to get over the emotion at the end. That’s what makes a winner, especially like a Tiger. When Tiger makes an Eagle or a Birdie, viewer applause a lot and his competitor knows that only Tiger can do that kind of noise among the audience. So, when you know your abilities and work very hard, at the end it’s hard not to smile and think about anything else. And I think his attitude towards game makes him what he is today. Once you know your power, it’s not impossible to achieve your goal. But when you are short of the victory, you cannot think straight. With this kind of attitude, you can easily win half the race as your competitors are already afraid of you!

    Now, as you have used Golf to say your thoughts, let me talk about other game- Tennis. You might have seen the AUS Open this Jan between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Roger is the best we have seen in current yrs but at the end of AUS Open, he broke into tears. Nadal told him that he is the best in the game and he would definitely win it one day. Roger was so much in pain that he couldn’t control his emotions. He knows that he can defect Nadal but he is not able to do that in recent years.

    Similar thing happened in quarter final match in AUS open between Verdasco and Tsonga. Tsonga is really good player but Verdasco had so much belief in himself that it’s hard to control him. As per the article (http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/articles/2009-01-28/200901281233132737093.html): “If Tsonga thought he could win the Australian Open, then Verdasco believed he could fly. Or walk on water. Or heal the sick, feed the poor and split the atom.”

    This is the power and attitude I am talking about what Tiger has in every games. It does not make him ‘less-human’ but the best in the game. And when you want to be the ‘numero-uno’ in what you do, sometimes you have to work like Tiger and think like the best in the field. But it surely does not mean that you can not take defect. It just gives you the energy to do better for the next time.

    Cheers,
    Pritesh
    http://twitter.com/mehta1p

    Reply
    • @Pritesh – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here, and I apologize for not responding you you sooner – somehow this comment got lost in the fray while I was working through responses. You make to very clear and important points here that I want to respond to:

      But to become the best in the field, you have to have the attitude of Tiger

      First, I agree that Tiger is the best at what he does, probably the best in the history of the game – but does he HAVE to have the attitude he does? Does he HAVE to brush off the media and show no appreciation for the game after a tough loss? I don’t know the answer to that – but he has to realize he is in a position where many, many people look up to him as a role model and mentor – and possessing an attitude like that, showing a disregard for his opponents and the game, it’s a reflection of him as a person, whether he means it or not – he is the face for the game of golf for an entire generation – ask someone who never watches golf who Tiger Woods is and everyone can tell you – his name and identity crosses boundaries – everyone knows he is ‘the best’ – but if you look a little deeper, we respect what he does on the fairways and greens, but his actions and attitude off the course are equally important. I have the utmost respect for him – everyone deals with defeat and failure differently, but I think a ‘Phil Mickelson’ type character can have just as much success as Tiger.

      Should we have higher standards for public figures?

      To your point here – it’s a difficult question to answer – you say ‘no’, but I say ‘I think so’ – Public figures, celebrities, athletes, high-profile personas – these people are put in front of the public eye and, like it or not, they are judged and criticized in more depth than you and I. I think the key here is that these public figures represent more than just themselves when they assume that role. With great fame, with great power, comes great responsibility. It sounds cliche and cheesy, but I believe that to be true. Take the situation with Penelope Trunk’s post last week – that would have been no big deal if I had written it and gone through the same situation she had – she is a ‘public figure’ in the world of blogging, and thus, held to a higher standard, and furthermore, her actions are scrutinized to a heavier degree. That’s my perspective – and I’m guilty of it as well – a ‘well-knowns’ actions have a greater impact and resonate louder with me.

      Reply
  8. Great thoughts, Matt. Although I agree with you on your views on life and failure, I don’t agree with your takes on Tiger.

    I think everyone has some kind of attitude what Tiger and Mickelson have. Some time, we behave like Tiger and most of the time we behave like Mickelson. But to become to the best in the field, you have to have attitude of Tiger. Now, I don’t think that Tiger can not admit defect. You cannot just define a person from his behavior on one take, especially when you are talking about Tiger. Now, this post can easily be linked to other post- ‘Should we have higher standards for public figures?’ NO, we should not. And I am not biased to Tiger. I think it’s a fun ride for Tiger too, just like Mickelson. It might be different kind of fun for Tiger, though.

    What I am trying to say is, when you know what you could do and have work very hard to achieve it, it’s really hard to get over the emotion at the end. That’s what makes a winner, especially like a Tiger. When Tiger makes an Eagle or a Birdie, viewer applause a lot and his competitor knows that only Tiger can do that kind of noise among the audience. So, when you know your abilities and work very hard, at the end it’s hard not to smile and think about anything else. And I think his attitude towards game makes him what he is today. Once you know your power, it’s not impossible to achieve your goal. But when you are short of the victory, you cannot think straight. With this kind of attitude, you can easily win half the race as your competitors are already afraid of you!

    Now, as you have used Golf to say your thoughts, let me talk about other game- Tennis. You might have seen the AUS Open this Jan between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Roger is the best we have seen in current yrs but at the end of AUS Open, he broke into tears. Nadal told him that he is the best in the game and he would definitely win it one day. Roger was so much in pain that he couldn’t control his emotions. He knows that he can defect Nadal but he is not able to do that in recent years.

    Similar thing happened in quarter final match in AUS open between Verdasco and Tsonga. Tsonga is really good player but Verdasco had so much belief in himself that it’s hard to control him. As per the article (http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/articles/2009-01-28/200901281233132737093.html): “If Tsonga thought he could win the Australian Open, then Verdasco believed he could fly. Or walk on water. Or heal the sick, feed the poor and split the atom.”

    This is the power and attitude I am talking about what Tiger has in every games. It does not make him ‘less-human’ but the best in the game. And when you want to be the ‘numero-uno’ in what you do, sometimes you have to work like Tiger and think like the best in the field. But it surely does not mean that you can not take defect. It just gives you the energy to do better for the next time.

    Cheers,
    Pritesh
    http://twitter.com/mehta1p

    Reply
    • @Pritesh – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here, and I apologize for not responding you you sooner – somehow this comment got lost in the fray while I was working through responses. You make to very clear and important points here that I want to respond to:

      But to become the best in the field, you have to have the attitude of Tiger

      First, I agree that Tiger is the best at what he does, probably the best in the history of the game – but does he HAVE to have the attitude he does? Does he HAVE to brush off the media and show no appreciation for the game after a tough loss? I don’t know the answer to that – but he has to realize he is in a position where many, many people look up to him as a role model and mentor – and possessing an attitude like that, showing a disregard for his opponents and the game, it’s a reflection of him as a person, whether he means it or not – he is the face for the game of golf for an entire generation – ask someone who never watches golf who Tiger Woods is and everyone can tell you – his name and identity crosses boundaries – everyone knows he is ‘the best’ – but if you look a little deeper, we respect what he does on the fairways and greens, but his actions and attitude off the course are equally important. I have the utmost respect for him – everyone deals with defeat and failure differently, but I think a ‘Phil Mickelson’ type character can have just as much success as Tiger.

      Should we have higher standards for public figures?

      To your point here – it’s a difficult question to answer – you say ‘no’, but I say ‘I think so’ – Public figures, celebrities, athletes, high-profile personas – these people are put in front of the public eye and, like it or not, they are judged and criticized in more depth than you and I. I think the key here is that these public figures represent more than just themselves when they assume that role. With great fame, with great power, comes great responsibility. It sounds cliche and cheesy, but I believe that to be true. Take the situation with Penelope Trunk’s post last week – that would have been no big deal if I had written it and gone through the same situation she had – she is a ‘public figure’ in the world of blogging, and thus, held to a higher standard, and furthermore, her actions are scrutinized to a heavier degree. That’s my perspective – and I’m guilty of it as well – a ‘well-knowns’ actions have a greater impact and resonate louder with me.

      Reply
  9. Is it really such a bad thing to always aspire to the absolute highest level in your professional life? Is it such a bad thing to be disappointed when you “fail”? When I know that I could have done better and my execution was off, I don’t necessarily put a smile on. I love making mistakes and failing, but it doesn’t mean that I’m happy about it. More importantly, it also doesn’t mean that I’m not in tune with the grander scale of things and that I am not enjoying life.

    Did Tiger really think that he failed? Winning the Masters does not define success or failure for Tiger, instead not playing to the best of his ability was the frustration (read: not failure). Even casual golf fans could clearly see didn’t play up to his potential this past week. If we don’t live up to our potential in whatever our life’s path, we SHOULD be disappointed and frustrated. If we aren’t… I think we’re settling for mediocrity.

    Embracing frustration is important. We all deal with it in different ways. I also don’t think that humility has anything to do with not living up to our potential. We know what we’re personally capable of and when we don’t hit the mark, being frustrated isn’t failure or ego… it’s wanting to be better, more successful, and “everything we can be”!

    I fear that being positive and humble all the time, because that’s what we think our disposition *should* be, will lead to less quality, lower standards, and the expectation for mediocrity. Positive reinforcement and feedback is important at times, but I personally want to know that I did everything that I could do to live up to my potential in order to GET that feedback.

    To quote John Wooden: “Success if peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.”

    Thanks for your blog – I don’t want to come off as jaded, negative, or pessimistic. I just don’t think that you’re giving Tiger, or others who hold themselves to an extremely high level all the time in all aspects of their life, a fair shake. :-)

    Reply
    • Andy – You make a very solid point. I agree that shrugging everything off can obviously lead to ‘settling’ in mediocrity. But I don’t think Mickelson is content with being second best, or whatever he is – I think he tries hard at what he does, and I’m sure he’s disappointed when he loses, but is there anything wrong with saying, ‘You know what, I tried my best and today it just wasn’t good enough – I got beat, but I can still respect this amazing experience and opportunity, just being here and being in a position to win the biggest golf tournament in the world – that’s huge, people would KILL to be in my shoes!’ I don’t think so – I think it’s just a different, and more positive way to deal with a loss. I wish that I could maintain that attitude in everything – truthfully, I probably would have been devastated and stormed off like Tiger, but I strive to be a Mickelson, to maintain a positive attitude through adversity.

      Tiger is amazing, he works harder than anyone else on the tour, he tried his best and it wasn’t good enough, there will be other tournaments, other opportunities, no one is questioning his incredible talent. To him I would just say, ‘let it roll off man, it’s all good!’

      Reply
  10. Is it really such a bad thing to always aspire to the absolute highest level in your professional life? Is it such a bad thing to be disappointed when you “fail”? When I know that I could have done better and my execution was off, I don’t necessarily put a smile on. I love making mistakes and failing, but it doesn’t mean that I’m happy about it. More importantly, it also doesn’t mean that I’m not in tune with the grander scale of things and that I am not enjoying life.

    Did Tiger really think that he failed? Winning the Masters does not define success or failure for Tiger, instead not playing to the best of his ability was the frustration (read: not failure). Even casual golf fans could clearly see didn’t play up to his potential this past week. If we don’t live up to our potential in whatever our life’s path, we SHOULD be disappointed and frustrated. If we aren’t… I think we’re settling for mediocrity.

    Embracing frustration is important. We all deal with it in different ways. I also don’t think that humility has anything to do with not living up to our potential. We know what we’re personally capable of and when we don’t hit the mark, being frustrated isn’t failure or ego… it’s wanting to be better, more successful, and “everything we can be”!

    I fear that being positive and humble all the time, because that’s what we think our disposition *should* be, will lead to less quality, lower standards, and the expectation for mediocrity. Positive reinforcement and feedback is important at times, but I personally want to know that I did everything that I could do to live up to my potential in order to GET that feedback.

    To quote John Wooden: “Success if peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.”

    Thanks for your blog – I don’t want to come off as jaded, negative, or pessimistic. I just don’t think that you’re giving Tiger, or others who hold themselves to an extremely high level all the time in all aspects of their life, a fair shake. :-)

    Reply
    • Andy – You make a very solid point. I agree that shrugging everything off can obviously lead to ‘settling’ in mediocrity. But I don’t think Mickelson is content with being second best, or whatever he is – I think he tries hard at what he does, and I’m sure he’s disappointed when he loses, but is there anything wrong with saying, ‘You know what, I tried my best and today it just wasn’t good enough – I got beat, but I can still respect this amazing experience and opportunity, just being here and being in a position to win the biggest golf tournament in the world – that’s huge, people would KILL to be in my shoes!’ I don’t think so – I think it’s just a different, and more positive way to deal with a loss. I wish that I could maintain that attitude in everything – truthfully, I probably would have been devastated and stormed off like Tiger, but I strive to be a Mickelson, to maintain a positive attitude through adversity.

      Tiger is amazing, he works harder than anyone else on the tour, he tried his best and it wasn’t good enough, there will be other tournaments, other opportunities, no one is questioning his incredible talent. To him I would just say, ‘let it roll off man, it’s all good!’

      Reply
  11. The difference is Tiger actually has goals and wants to be remembered as a legend long after his time. Tiger wants to make a long lasting impact ala Michael Jordan with basketball. Tiger uses failure as motivation for future success and this keeps his determination to succeed going. After Phil retires, he will just be a nobody.

    Reply
    • Josh – This was exactly what was debated on Mike and Mike, I couldn’t pull the article they were referencing, but essentially someone was accusing Mickelson of ‘not trying’ or ‘not caring as much’ which I don’t agree with. I think Mickelson was trying just as hard, he cared just as much, he actually had a better chance to win than Tiger – but when he lost, he handled the dissipointment with a shurg and a smile – he said “I tried, it was fun, and in the grand scheme of things this isn’t the end of the world – I have a pretty amazing life”. I don’t think that means he does not care, I think it means his outlook on life is different. He’s still a driven individual – he just chooses not to let his successes and failures define who he is as a person.

      Mickelson may not be remembered by the masses, but he’ll be remembered by the people who matter the most to him, his family and friends. It’s just a different perspective on life. Mickelson still has goals and wants to be remembered, he just doesn’t turn into a prick when he’s not the best at everything.

      Reply
  12. The difference is Tiger actually has goals and wants to be remembered as a legend long after his time. Tiger wants to make a long lasting impact ala Michael Jordan with basketball. Tiger uses failure as motivation for future success and this keeps his determination to succeed going. After Phil retires, he will just be a nobody.

    Reply
    • Josh – This was exactly what was debated on Mike and Mike, I couldn’t pull the article they were referencing, but essentially someone was accusing Mickelson of ‘not trying’ or ‘not caring as much’ which I don’t agree with. I think Mickelson was trying just as hard, he cared just as much, he actually had a better chance to win than Tiger – but when he lost, he handled the dissipointment with a shurg and a smile – he said “I tried, it was fun, and in the grand scheme of things this isn’t the end of the world – I have a pretty amazing life”. I don’t think that means he does not care, I think it means his outlook on life is different. He’s still a driven individual – he just chooses not to let his successes and failures define who he is as a person.

      Mickelson may not be remembered by the masses, but he’ll be remembered by the people who matter the most to him, his family and friends. It’s just a different perspective on life. Mickelson still has goals and wants to be remembered, he just doesn’t turn into a prick when he’s not the best at everything.

      Reply
  13. If you watch the video of Tiger on Mike Douglas at age 2 he looks happy to be golfing, not so happy to be interviewed. Life in the spotlight is tough, no doubt about it. Some people handle it with more grace than others. You’re right, the people who live on in our hearts are the ones who learn to just enjoy the ride and let the bad things roll off their backs.

    Reply
    • I agree 100%. Woods will ALWAYS be remembered as one of the greatest – and he in no way has established a ‘bad’ reputation for himself. But figures in the spotlight have to remember that they are, in fact, in the spotlight, that people are watching, kids are looking up to them, etc. Being a sore loser never looks good, on any level. When I am faced with failure, my initial thought is to react like Tiger, but once I take a step back I realize that one failure won’t define me, and that the only think I can do is persevere and try that much harder next time.

      Reply
  14. If you watch the video of Tiger on Mike Douglas at age 2 he looks happy to be golfing, not so happy to be interviewed. Life in the spotlight is tough, no doubt about it. Some people handle it with more grace than others. You’re right, the people who live on in our hearts are the ones who learn to just enjoy the ride and let the bad things roll off their backs.

    Reply
    • I agree 100%. Woods will ALWAYS be remembered as one of the greatest – and he in no way has established a ‘bad’ reputation for himself. But figures in the spotlight have to remember that they are, in fact, in the spotlight, that people are watching, kids are looking up to them, etc. Being a sore loser never looks good, on any level. When I am faced with failure, my initial thought is to react like Tiger, but once I take a step back I realize that one failure won’t define me, and that the only think I can do is persevere and try that much harder next time.

      Reply
  15. Josh is right, Tiger’s got the attitude. That’s what it all boils down to–how they talk, how they walk and their image. Tiger has got it, Phil just doesn’t.

    Why do you think there are so many more Tiger fans.

    Reply
    • @Matt – There’s no doubt in my mind that Tiger is the superior in terms of the legacy they’ll leave behind to the masses. Tiger is Tiger, anyone would kill to be in his shoes. Comparing the two is a bit like comparing oranges and apples. They’re are two different perspectives. Tiger has an ‘all business’ mentality. And when he falls short of meeting his expectations – he’s frustrated, he’s angry. Phil let’s it roll of and has the ‘it’s just a game’ frame of mind’.

      Neither is wrong – but either can be harmful. On one hand, you don’t want to be totally impersonal and forget to be gracious for the opportunity you’ve been given (and earned). But on the other, you don’t want to become too content with mediocrity and coming in ‘second place’.

      Valid points Matt. Thanks for coming by and adding some thoughts.

      Reply
  16. Josh is right, Tiger’s got the attitude. That’s what it all boils down to–how they talk, how they walk and their image. Tiger has got it, Phil just doesn’t.

    Why do you think there are so many more Tiger fans.

    Reply
    • @Matt – There’s no doubt in my mind that Tiger is the superior in terms of the legacy they’ll leave behind to the masses. Tiger is Tiger, anyone would kill to be in his shoes. Comparing the two is a bit like comparing oranges and apples. They’re are two different perspectives. Tiger has an ‘all business’ mentality. And when he falls short of meeting his expectations – he’s frustrated, he’s angry. Phil let’s it roll of and has the ‘it’s just a game’ frame of mind’.

      Neither is wrong – but either can be harmful. On one hand, you don’t want to be totally impersonal and forget to be gracious for the opportunity you’ve been given (and earned). But on the other, you don’t want to become too content with mediocrity and coming in ‘second place’.

      Valid points Matt. Thanks for coming by and adding some thoughts.

      Reply
  17. Great discussion to all,

    Different types definately do make the world go round. I have regular discussions similiar to this with a co-worker and pretty much every time a topic comes up, we have very differing opinions. I would say “I don’t want my child emulating Tiger and all his swearing and club throwing”, he says “that is the attitude that makes him a winner, I want my kid to be like that.” I say “most other kids wouldn’t want to play with your kid if he behaved like that”, he says “who cares he’s a winner.” Jack and Arnold certainly never behaved like Tiger and I would certainly consider them winners. For certain Tiger, Phil, Jack and Arnold are all winners on the golf course, the question is does that make them winner off the golf course. Does Tiger continue to stew and be angry the next day when home with his wife and kids, I hope not, because that makes him NOT a success in my book. If he lets it go and moves, fair enough. For Josh to say after Phil retires he will be a nobody is really stretching it. He will still be remembered as a great golfer, a winner and a likeable guy and fabulously wealthy to boot.
    One other comment; no doubt there are more Tiger fans than Phil fans, Tiger is a once in a life time talent that most people are thrilled to be able to see. However, the media coverage of Tiger is so completely over the top and slanted, most casual golf fans have Tiger basically shoved down their throat, who else are you going to cheer for other than the guy shown more than all other golfers put together during tournement coverage.
    I appreciate Tiger’s talent and drive immensly, I do not cheer for Tiger because I don’t like his attitude.

    Reply
    • I side with your rationale here Jeff (thanks for the comment by the way – glad you came across the blog). I will never argue that Tiger is not one of, if not THE all time greatest golfer to ever live – and when I was younger, I cheered for him religiously – but now that I’ve seen his ungracious approach to failure, it’s become very difficult for me to cheer for his success. I’d much rather cheer for the underdog I suppose – someone who is humbled by victory, not necessarily expecting it and throwing a fit when that goal is not achieved.

      Reply
  18. Great discussion to all,

    Different types definately do make the world go round. I have regular discussions similiar to this with a co-worker and pretty much every time a topic comes up, we have very differing opinions. I would say “I don’t want my child emulating Tiger and all his swearing and club throwing”, he says “that is the attitude that makes him a winner, I want my kid to be like that.” I say “most other kids wouldn’t want to play with your kid if he behaved like that”, he says “who cares he’s a winner.” Jack and Arnold certainly never behaved like Tiger and I would certainly consider them winners. For certain Tiger, Phil, Jack and Arnold are all winners on the golf course, the question is does that make them winner off the golf course. Does Tiger continue to stew and be angry the next day when home with his wife and kids, I hope not, because that makes him NOT a success in my book. If he lets it go and moves, fair enough. For Josh to say after Phil retires he will be a nobody is really stretching it. He will still be remembered as a great golfer, a winner and a likeable guy and fabulously wealthy to boot.
    One other comment; no doubt there are more Tiger fans than Phil fans, Tiger is a once in a life time talent that most people are thrilled to be able to see. However, the media coverage of Tiger is so completely over the top and slanted, most casual golf fans have Tiger basically shoved down their throat, who else are you going to cheer for other than the guy shown more than all other golfers put together during tournement coverage.
    I appreciate Tiger’s talent and drive immensly, I do not cheer for Tiger because I don’t like his attitude.

    Reply
    • I side with your rationale here Jeff (thanks for the comment by the way – glad you came across the blog). I will never argue that Tiger is not one of, if not THE all time greatest golfer to ever live – and when I was younger, I cheered for him religiously – but now that I’ve seen his ungracious approach to failure, it’s become very difficult for me to cheer for his success. I’d much rather cheer for the underdog I suppose – someone who is humbled by victory, not necessarily expecting it and throwing a fit when that goal is not achieved.

      Reply

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About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. Connect on Twitter or check out the work I'm doing at Proof.

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