Tiger Woods captures his 75th PGA Tour victory with a win at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Monday, the seventh time he has won this tournament. Whether you're a Tiger Woods fan or not, there's no denying he truly is a freak of nature and arguably the best golfer the world has ever seen.
While most people focus on Tiger's physical game, which of course is amazing in its own right, most people don't give enough credit to another very important part of his game: his mental toughness.
Mental toughness is taking control of your emotions to get what you want out of life. For professional athletes, it's about taking control of everything that comes at you that could potentially strip the championship right out of your arms. For Tiger Woods, it's been a long three year climb back to the top of the golfing world, having to move on after an extramarital affair, injuries, swing changes and attempting to rebuild his image.
Beyond that, the most impressive part about Tiger Woods' mental toughness is how well he overcomes adversity. This guy doesn't just win; he wins in some of the fiercest conditions out there. This past week at Torrey Pines, Woods overcame a one day delay due to foggy conditions, and managed to maintain a strong lead most of the way through without faltering.
So what is it about Woods that makes him so good? What is it about his mental toughness that sets him apart from everyone else?
- Woods is hard-wired through years of world-class programming to focus on a vision and persevere at any cost. He doesn't understand what giving up is. His late father, Earl Woods, used his military background and literally unleashed it on Tiger. He would deliberately interrupt him during his backswing and play all kinds of mind games with him.
- Champions like Woods are professional failures. They know that success is based on a series of comebacks, and that setbacks are set-ups for comebacks. People at the world class level like Woods often fail more times than they succeed. Even in the spiral downfall of Tiger's life after his affair, the guy knew he would be on top of the golfing world again.
- One of Woods' best mental toughness qualities is his ability to compartmentalize his emotions. In other words, he is able to manage multiple problems and maintain emotional control while solving each problem individually. That means when he's on the golf course, no matter what else is going on in his life, he's only focused on one thing: winning golf tournaments.
- People often ask me what took Tiger Woods so long to make his comeback? Woods needed to mentally rehearse his comeback. He needed to make himself a super-star again in his mind, truly believe it and then turn that vision into reality. It's not something that can happen overnight, and considering all that he endured, his comeback was still pretty quick all things considered.
- Tiger Woods needed to learn to feed his visions with tons of positive self-talk, and make winning in his mind the only possibility again. Building a world-class positive self-talk is perhaps the greatest mental toughness tool of all.
The bottom line: a bet against a champion like Tiger Woods is a bad bet. On the physical plain he has perseverance, on the mental plane he has toughness and on the spiritual plane he has artistry. The scary part about all of this is if you think Tiger Woods was a dominant force in professional golf in years past, you haven't seen anything yet.
Whether it's golf, business or anything else, if you want to compete at the level of the world class, study them like a scientist and copy their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and philosophies. It's doable for just about everyone, but the first step is believing you can do it.