“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” -James Joyce
Anytime the press begins to overuse a word, I have to make sure that I really know what it means. Words have a way of taking on new meanings sometimes. As the veil over Tiger Woods‘ personal life ripped last Thanksgiving, and word of multiple mistresses came flying in from everywhere, the word, indiscretion was on every news caster’s lips. So I looked it up.
indiscretion. n. to lack discretion… come on! Are you kidding me?
So I went for the root word, discreet.
discreet. adj. marked by prudence or modesty and wise self-restraint…score one for the news folks.
Tiger was certainly the opposite of discreet, so indiscretions they were.
Now that we have that cleared up. What can we hope to learn from all of the hub-bub around Mr. Woods’ indiscretions? First of all, I hope we all realize that we all have our fair share of indiscretions. They may not be of the extramarital variety, but they are things that we carry with us all the same. And the reason I support the use of that particular word in Tiger’s case, is because his acts were deliberate. He willfully made the decisions to carry on all of those affairs. This isn’t to judge, but to make a distinction…
…making a mistake, learning from it, and moving on is one thing. Consciously deciding to repeat an action, knowing that it is wrong, is entirely another issue.
I wrote another brief post about the need for extreme mental toughness on Tiger’s part when he arrives at The Masters. About how he will need to forgive himself before he can expect to really deal with all of the backlash. All of the sex clinics in Mississippi won’t be able to do that for him. That one is his alone.
What I want to cover here is less about forgiveness after a mistake, an error, an indiscretion…and more about what we can do to prevent the problems and make better decisions in the first place. The two major Elements of Personal Choice that come into play here are Purpose and Gratitude.
When we have a definite major aim, all of our decisions can and should be made by aligning the choices with the aim. That aim, our purpose, guides us through one tumultuous situation after another. It is expressed through our will power and focus. However, a strong Purpose is not enough to prevent immoral or inconsiderate acts.
No one doubts Tiger’s single mindedness or his will power. He is among the best in the world at channeling his will and being driven by purpose. The element that it appears Tiger was missing, is Gratitude. I may be all wet in saying this, but I will anyway. I don’t believe that Tiger Woods appreciated what he had in his family. He lacked Gratitude.
When we are grateful, it softens our egos and gives us perspective on our direction. Combining Gratitude with our Purpose does not weaken our aim though. By bringing our Purpose and Gratitude into alignment, we become stronger than ever. By being grateful, our definite major aim takes on a new dynamic. It doesn’t make us less selfish perhaps, but it makes us consider who we are. It could be the difference between: I am the highest profile athlete in the world and I will have whatever I want, or I am the luckiest man in the world and I will do everything in my power to honor my family and myself.
You can plug your own life into the statements and see what happens for you. I’ve made major blunders throughout my life and they all found their root in a lack of Purpose and Gratitude. My goal now, is to keep them in front of me at all times so that I make better decisions. If you’re up to it, I’d like to contribute to your good decisions as well.
- Let me know via the comments, what your biggest takeaway from this post is. If the comments are too personal, use the contact page.
None of us know what is cooking in Tiger’s bean right now. It’s really none of our business. But I hope that the use of high-profile mistakes can cause us all to take our own human condition a little more deliberately. I’m going to root for Tiger. For the first time in his competitive life, he’s the underdog. I want to see how he comes out of this. Oh, and if you’re reading this Tiger, I’d be glad to walk with you on your new journey.