If you’ve been in organizational leadership long enough to climb the ranks of greater responsibility and pressure, you’ve also known difficult transitions. You’ve likely endured career-threatening setbacks, and maybe even disastrous leadership mistakes or failures. But I can tell you this from my personal experience, as well as that of the 100s of Fortune 500 leaders I’ve coached. Setbacks can be springboards to success.
Look at what Tiger Woods has done in the sports world. He had a career-ending performance setback that lasted more than a decade. He endured four surgeries, dropped out of the top 500 player list, and lost many lucrative sponsorships. But in 2019 he’s suddenly competing at the top of his game. His astonishing comeback can teach us some great lessons as business leaders about resiliency.
Here are five inspiring quotes from Tiger Woods, with insights to motivate you to reinterpret past difficulties as fuel to propel success.
1) “Never beat yourself up. There are going to be plenty of people who are going to do that for you.”
We all have nagging tapes playing in the mind that say you aren’t good enough, qualified enough, experienced enough, and so forth. Those undermine your leadership presence as they plant seeds in the subconscious mind. Then they conspicuously seep into attitude, language, and behavior. When I first evaluate my executive clients we often find that they are unconsciously engaged in mental self-sabotage.Like Tiger Woods, you can turn setbacks into career-changing comebacks. But it all starts with the right mindset. Click To Tweet
2) “Under pressure, you can win with your mind.”
To find your true power you have to manage your mindset to silence that internal negativity. Then replace it with positive affirmations that will boost self-assurance, boldness, and your ability to experience greater poise, clarity, and gravitas. Once you conquer internal negativity, you’ll also develop other mindset skills. You’ll learn to spot and neutralize whatever external negativity there is in your environment or the naysayers around you. With the right leadership mindset you can redirect those bad forces and emerge a winner.
3) “You’re going to make mistakes. The key is to learn from them and make changes as soon as you can.”
I work with my private clients to explore their past mistakes and then mine them for nuggets of gold in the form of lessons learned. You should know ways to reframe failures or missteps as part of your leadership brand narrative. Sharing that valuable experience with others on your team can confirm your credibility as a role model. It also helps to reinforce the human side of your brand in a charismatic way.
4) “No matter how good you get you can always get better.”
Tiger Woods never rests on his laurels. Even though he’s at the world-class level he still relies on coaches and consultants to make him even better. Imagine if college athletes abandoned coaching once they got drafted into the NBA or NFL. They’d be total failures. But so many business leaders graduate with an MBA or reach executive status and no longer feel the urgency to be challenged and helped by coaches. They get lazy, stop learning, and their careers plateau. To be the best, you have to always take your skills to a higher level.
5) “I smile at obstacles.”
Coaches who give you honest feedback, expert support, and helpful accountability can elevate your game beyond what you imagine is possible. When you experience that, you can understand why Tiger Woods says that he smiles at obstacles. Obstacles in your path represent next-level growth opportunities. These intense challenges are a gift, if you know how to leverage them into new solutions that open the doors to advancement.
The Bottom Line
Like Tiger Woods, you can turn setbacks into career-changing comebacks. But it all starts with the right mindset and a practical, actionable strategy.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Are there past setbacks that linger in your mind to undermine confidence?
- How can you reframe those as helpful life lessons?
- What failure do you fear most?
- Are there steps you can take to protect yourself from that pitfall?
- Can you think of role models of leadership who first experienced humiliation or failure?
- Is it possible that you could be a more exemplary leader by leveraging your past failure in a more intention, positive way?