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Unreasonable belief drives unbelievable success

One more story, this time about Tiger Woods, arguably one of the most successful professional golfers of all time. Actually, the story is about Chris DiMarco, another professional golfer, who twice lost to Tiger Woods in all-important Majors, including one that has one of golf’s most memorable moments at the centre of the story.

The Masters Tournament, also known as the US Masters, is one of the four major championships in professional golf. It is the first of the four Majors to be played each year and is the only one to be held each year at the same location – the Augusta National Golf Club in the city of Augusta, Georgia, in the United States. For many, it is the major tournament to win.

In 2005, during the fourth and final round on the Sunday, the tournament came down to a two-man duel between Tiger Woods and Chris DiMarco. On the 16th hole, Tiger Woods made a sensational chip, aiming far to the left of the hole and letting the ball run down a steep slope to it. The moment that followed was captured on television and must have been shown a million times or more around the world, to the delight of golfers everywhere. Tiger’s ball, with the Nike logo resplendent, appeared to stop on the lip of the hole, paused, then dropped in for a sensational birdie. DiMarco was two down with two to play. Somehow, Chris managed to claw his way back, win the next two holes and finish the game tied with Woods. It all came down to a dramatic sudden death on the 18th hole, where Tiger buried a birdie putt to win his fourth Masters and his ninth major title.

DiMarco finished at 12 under for the tournament. Afterwards he said:

‘I went out and shot 68 around here on Sunday, which is a very good round, and 12 under is usually good enough to win. It was just that I was playing against Tiger Woods.’

Later that year, at the Sun City Golf Classic in South Africa, at the famous Gary Player Country Club, I had the enormous privilege of partnering Chris DiMarco in the pro-am tournament on the Wednesday before the championship. After 12 holes, I felt I knew him well enough to ask the questions that were burning to be asked.

‘Where do you go from here? How do you improve in order to beat Tiger?’

Chris looked at me with a scowl, and I feared I had overstepped the mark. He shook his head and said:

‘I don’t believe that I can make any improvements to my technique. I think my technical skills are as good as they will ever be. The difference is in here,’

he said, tapping his forehead.

‘When you play against Tiger, you can just feel his belief. His belief is so strong that it can give him that one shot extra that he needs to beat you. He just sees the end result more clearly. I have to work on that, not on my technique.’

So, my third observation is about the power of clarity, commitment, passion and belief!

How do these three observations combine? First, you have to have a clear and motivating vision. It has to power the passion of all of the individuals in your team and give them a clear sense of shared purpose. The more clear and compelling the vision is, the greater will be the commitment to it. The more clarity around their individual roles and how they contribute to the vision, the more cohesive and competitive your team will be. The stronger their belief in the purpose, your cause, the more likely you will be to achieve your vision.

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