Spiritual truths of leadership
Q: As the de facto leader of Golf Inc., how did Tiger Wood perform at Monday's pre-Master's press conference? What did he need to accomplish to resuscitate his brand? What lessons could other embattled leaders, such as the Pope and GOP chairman Michael Steele, draw from Tiger's handling of the press?
Leaders are human beings with all the frailties and strengths this entails. They forget this at their own peril. As I listened to Tiger Woods, I kept hearing an admission of this and of the vulnerability he has come to accept as part of the human condition.
We are not God no matter how gifted or great we are at something and no matter how adoring followers or fans may be. The leader who loses touch with him- or herself and becomes the projection of the public is doomed to fall.
I observed a genuine sense of regret and a willingness to admit harm to himself and to those he loved. There was no self-pity but a heavy dose of accepting the reality that he can't change the past, but he can change the future. There was no flight into a fantasy that this work will be easy. As he intimated, it will be one day at a time. The work of the self is life-long, even when there is no fall from grace.
Tiger spoke of returning to some of the people and practices of his past, not as a retreat but as a reclaiming of the core of who he is. I find this reassuring. Every leader must have a solid core--a sense of what defines them and tethers them when they encounter great difficulty or great temptation.
Tiger is now discovering these psychological and spiritual truths. One of them is that we don't become the person we are without the help of others. We are most fortunate if, when we do fail, we have people who genuinely love and care for us enough to permit us to suffer the natural consequences of our actions without abandoning us.
Tiger seems to be discovering himself and recommitting to creating a life with meaning. He is learning some lessons about what really matters in the end:
• No one is perfect; thinking you are denies the shadow inside. Denial of the shadow feeds it until it takes over.
• Being truthful to yourself and others demonstrates character and builds trust.
• Trust is the glue in all significant relationships.
• Personal integrity is more important than winning.
• Faith in something larger than one's self indicates spiritual maturity.
• Taking responsibility is empowering; refusing to do so is ultimately hurtful.
• Forgiveness and reconciliation come from all of the above.
• Everyone is not entitled to know every detail of your life--that is your job.
These are lessons for all of us.
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