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Robert Goodwin

Robert Goodwin

Robert J. Goodwin is CEO and co-founder of Executives Without Borders; former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force and appointee at USAID, the State Department and the White House.

Taking our money

People who play golf appreciate the parallels to life and its lessons. The game is founded on etiquette, and being successful requires discipline, focus and constant practice and improvement. You only get one round to make your score, and it's full of avoiding hazards and recovering from mistakes. It also requires being honest about strengths and weaknesses to know which shots to hit and how to manage each hole.

The first nine of Tiger's life was pure perfection. The championships, the storybook family, the money, the contribution to society and the world. Truly an icon. Fans and endorsements rolled in and it was easy street. People were fascinated but respectful, believing the same principles that made him successful at golf applied to his personal life.

The second nine, though, is turning into a disaster. While we must all respect a person's privacy, what's missing is the same thing the companies that received taxpayer dollars missed: the expectations and standards that come with taking money from the public. Tiger's empire was built on dollars from millions of people from ages 5 to 75 buying the clothes, video games, and tickets to see him play.

While Tiger's talent did not make him a leader, it did make him a role model. He gave us hope with his grace under fire and his ability to overcome tremendous adversity, such as his famous U.S. Open win on a bum leg. He has so many gifts and a platform to shape lives, cultures and history.

Tiger was thrust into celebrity at a very young age and into super stardom in his early 20s. Being in the spotlight from childhood, and having an incredibly demanding father, led me to compare aspects of his situation with that of Michael Jackson. I'm not sure what Tiger's childhood was truly like, but one wonders now if there is a lack of maturity and experience with successful intimate relationships.

I have known public figures who feel unable to deal with their demons because of the fear of being found out. Eventually it's discovered, and it leaves a wake of destruction much greater than they ever imagined. In hindsight, most wish they had been open and honest with everyone from the beginning. While Tiger is responsible for his actions, there were clearly bystanders and facilitators who could have stopped this nightmare.

Tiger is not a leader, but he has the opportunity now to demonstrate the courage and tenacity of the great leaders of our day. If he does, and comes clean with those who have supported him all these years, he can still be a positive role model.

By Robert Goodwin

 |  December 9, 2009; 10:33 AM ET
Category:  Making mistakes Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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