The explosion of media attention surrounding Tiger Woods gives us an opportunity to consider the choices success offers, and if not handled correctly how these choices can lead to one’s derailment. This is usually spoken about from the point-of-view of what successful women have to “give-up” in order to attain their success, but what about the choices men face?
The inherited conversations regarding women and success assume a scarcity rather than an abundance mentality. For successful women, the conversation is an either/or conversation. Either you have one thing or another—a successful career or a happy marriage—but rarely both. That would imply you have it all, and rarely is it possible for women to “have it all.”
I assert men struggle with having it all too, but the context is not either/or. The conversation for men is one that assumes abundance not scarcity. It is not only possible; it is probable for men to have it all. While the press is mostly focused on Tiger’s bevy of beauties, there is an opportunity to turn the gender conversation around and consider how abundance can be a limiting factor rather than a contributing factor to men having it all. No one had it all more than Tiger. What is not talked about and illustrated in steroids with the Tiger drama is the price men pay for this abundance when the abundance causes them to lose perspective. The abundance blears their view on what is most important to them until the threat of loss is imminent or they lose what is most dear to them.
Men are inclined to measure success vertically, and if we apply this metric system to Tiger Woods he is at the top of the pyramid. Undoubtedly his fame and fortune is intoxication to those who want or wish for more, and as the tabloids are reporting his ability to “just say no” not winning another major seems to be his greatest challenge. For a man who has taken discipline to a new art form on the golf course, this is his moment of truth.
It seems Tiger is willing to face his demons, and announced his decision to “take a break” in order to focus on his wife and family and “being a better person.”
Let’s hope this is not just a PR move. By Tiger declaring other aspects of his life are paramount to golf at the present time, he sends a message about the importance of prioritizing all the variables that comprise a successful life not just those in the vertical application of one’s craft.
There are many company cultures that require the subjugation of one’s personal life to the professional life. This is true for both men and for women. Employees who aspire to success in these cultures must choose what their priority is. It may be true it is easier for men to balance all the variables that comprise these priorities, but it does not mean we are better off because of it.
Tiger Wood’s iconic status mean all eyes are upon him for better or for worse. His ability to publicly sort himself out could be one of the most important roles he will play in his life. He may be a force-of-nature as an athlete, but he has domestic issues he must attend meaning he is not perfect. If Tiger Woods is not perfect, hopefully this grants the rest of us some space.
Since the media assault will not cease, let’s take this opportunity to reflect rather than gloat at Tiger’s expense. His lack of perfection allows a reality check for all of us of our own shortcomings, but especially for men about the choices of success. The fact of the matter is there are always trade-offs, either/or conversations along the way no matter who we are or what we do. Let’s have that be the lesson learned from Tiger’s missteps.