If you follow sports other than your own at all you’re undoubtedly aware of Tiger Woods’ problems in the last two years. I won’t go into details here, but the bottom line is that he’s been playing awful golf. Making the cut after the first two of the four rounds usually played in PGA events has become the challenge for a player who used to be the assumed winner of every tournament he entered. He’s no longer feared by the other pros like he once was. The problem isn’t the distance he hits the balls but rather the distance between his ears. He’s been a head case.
But on Thursday I saw something that told me he’s on the way back—and is a great lesson for all of us who go through periodic down times in our training and racing.
After Thursday’s first round at the Fry’s Open in California, at which he once again played awful golf, he was interviewed by the media. He was asked if he was concerned about possibly not making the cut once again this time. His response was, “I don’t like missing cuts. If I miss the cut that means you can’t win the tournament on the weekend. I’ve got a shot at it this weekend.”
I’ve got a shot at it this weekend? He was tied for 85th place after round 1. What made him think he had a shot at it? But remarkably, he did. On Friday he had a great round, especially considering how he’s been playing for two years, and did make the cut. On Saturday he started strong and pulled to within 4 strokes of the lead. But then he had a bad hole while the leaders pulled away. He dropped back a few places. But, again, was confident he could do it the last day.
The lesson here is simple: You’ve got to believe in yourself. If you don’t there is no chance at all. I saw self-belief at Ironman Hawaii this weekend when Chrissie Wellington came out of the water something like 9 minutes behind the leader, Julie Dibens, and nearly 7 minutes behind last year’s winner, Mirinda Carfrae. Then, Wellington came off the bike 21 minutes behind Dibens, who eventually would drop out of the race. Wellington was still feeling the effects of a bike crash two weeks prior that sent her to the hospital. It would have been easy for her to just finish. No one would have found fault. But what did she do? She stayed focused, continued to plow ahead, and took the lead around mile 16. Then, amazingly, she came within 66 seconds of breaking her own course record set in 2009.
Self-belief is huge in sport. If you ’t think you can do it the chances that you will are favorable. But if you question whether or not you are capable, then the cards are already stacked against you.
Build your belief in yourself every day. It takes a bit of selective amnesia to do this. Learn from your daily mistakes and then forget them. Never relive mistakes. Once you’ve learned the lesson, throw it away. On the other hand, review your successes every day and save them like trophies. Relive the highlights of your day's workout nightly as you’re lying in bed waiting for sleep to come. Always find the positive things daily. Learn to believe in yourself. Nothing is more important.