Skip to main content

Like Tiger Think Big Be Big

Editor's note: The following is an exceprt from Matt Adams book,' Fairways of Life ' Wisdom and Inspiration from the Greatest Game.'
You win major championships with your mind. -- Tiger Woods
When Tiger Woods was a kid he had Jack Nicklaus impressive achievements taped to his wall as motivation. Even for a golf prodigy like Woods, Nicklaus golfing accomplishments read like something superhuman that only a fool or someone severely self-deluded would even aspire to. Tiger Woods was different. He did not use Nicklaus record as an opportunity to take account of his deficiencies, but as a road map to success ' as a cause of self-empowerment, not resignation.
Consider the list that would greet a young Tiger Woods each day as he awoke and glanced up at the faded paper taped to the wall:
Jack Nicklaus Golfing Record:
  • 2 ' U.S. Amateurs (59, 61)
  • 1 ' NCAA Championship (61)
  • 6 ' Masters (63, 65, 66, 72, 75, 86)
  • 4 ' U.S. Open (62, 67, 72, 80)
  • 3 ' Open Championships (66. 70, 78)
  • 5 ' PGA Championships (63, 71, 73, 75, 80)
    In addition to this, Nicklaus finished in the top-3 in majors 48 times, including 19 second-place finishes, nine third-place finishes, 56 top-5 finishes, and 73 top-10 finishes. Nicklaus also won THE PLAYERS Championship (increasingly referred to as the fifth major) three times, and the Australian Open six times. His seventy73 victories on the PGA TOUR are second only to Sam Snead on the all-time list.
    Whether Tiger Woods will overtake Nicklaus in any or all of these categories is irrelevant. The import point is that Woods realized that to accomplish great things you first have to believe yourself capable of it. You have to train yourself to think big.
    Thinking big is a developed trait. We can train ourselves to embrace the possibilities without giving in to limiting self-doubt. The chief inhibitor to thinking big, to going for it, is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of ridicule for trying something over our heads.
    I love the mantra of author Raymond Aaron, who encourages his students to Bite off more than you can chew and chew like crazy.
    The funny thing is that as I travel and meet with immensely successful people in all fields, every one of them has admitted to intense fear at some point in their life and/or career. Their fear occurred at the same times and places as we would feel it if we were in the same position. Maybe one was about to ask the love of his life to marry him, or about to become a parent for the first time. Perhaps another was standing on the first tee on the final day of a major, in the last group. But they all fought through the fear. They rejected it and focused solely on their dreams. They used their big thinking to fill their minds with nothing but their dreams. They did not have room for doubt. They greeted insecurity with intensity of purpose.
    Of course, after they succeeded, they were met with a chorus of supporters who knew they had it in them. The reality is that early on, many high achievers simply kept their huge aspirations to themselves rather than face the ridicule of others who were satisfied with mediocrity. The challenge is to have the courage to follow our convictions and embrace the possibilities regardless of internal or external pressure to settle for less. The irony of thinking big is that it takes just as much effort as thinking small.
    The top-producing salespeople in any field will admit that it takes just as much effort to ask for a million-dollar order as it does for a $10,000 order. If it takes the same amount of time and effort, why not go big-time?
    Big thinkers are usually excellent negotiators because they shoot for the sky. They know that it is always easier to come down on a price or service that to negotiate your way up. My friend, who is a power lifter, likes to quote a line he heard as a child in a cartoon that said, Think big and be big. Big thinkers really do think this way. They do not pre-qualify themselves as being too small, too inexperienced, too young, too late, or not ready. They take the chance without reservation. They let everyone else convince themselves that they are not ready for the challenge, thus diminishing the competitive field. Often, they fill in any gaps with a propensity for risk and good old fashioned hard work.
    Big thinkers are busy looking forward while everyone else is looking backward. They define their self-images by what they will be, not what they are, or have been. Detractors dismiss them as dreamers. In fact, dreamers are exactly what they are. They know that if you do not have the courage to dream big then you will never accomplish big things.
    Now is a good time to decide what list of unrestricted accomplishments we wish to aspire to. Review every goal we have established in our life personally and professionally and start thinking really, really big. Resisting the temptation to edit how high we should aspire. Take the highest vision we have of our goals and multiply them by ten.
    Write down your goals, tape the list to the wall and use it as your guide, every day. Remember that the bigger our dreams, the bigger our accomplishments. Tiger did.
    Copyright 2007 Matthew E. Adams Fairways of Life
    Email your thoughts to Matt Adams
    Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 89th PGA Championship
    Editor's Note: Matt Adams is a golf journalist, best-selling author (Chicken Soup for the Soul, Fairways of Life) and a golf course general manager. To view Matt's books or sign up for his 'Golf Wisdom Newsletter,'go to