Think Like Tiger

Posted 01.16.2008

Jolted by the death of his father in 2006, Tiger Woods had a rare “off” year. His attention drifted, and so did his game. “Tiger is human,” says his coach Hank Haney. “Competitive golf is more than the golf swing. It’s a million things.” One of those things is visualization, or as golfers call it, “swing thought.”

Tiger Woods

A fascinating article in January’s Golf Digest describes how Tiger’s focus on “swing thought” led him back to the top in 2007. A similar focus can do the same for executives. One of the most important tools in my coaching toolkit is to encourage leaders to adopt the idea of having a “swing thought.” The idea is to take a few moments before any important leadership move or conversation, and picture what you need to do to bring about the desired outcome. In other words, less doing, more thinking — like Tiger. As Tiger’s caddy, Steve Williams, describes in the Golf Digest piece: “… instead of spending hours on the practice field, he [Woods] just tried to picture how he wanted to swing the club.” The result? The cognoscenti anticipate that Tiger will reach yet another level of success in 2008.

So, what’s the big takeaway? Ask yourself the question, “What am I trying to do here?” Then ask, “How do I need to show up to make that likely?” It’s an approach that Tiger has been advocating for up-and-coming golf pros like 20-year-old Corey Carroll:

After being impressed with Carroll’s penchant for eight-hour days on the range … Woods introduced himself to Carroll in a practice bunker three years ago, breaking the ice by saying, ‘What are you trying to do with this bunker shot?’