Whether you are a fan of golf or not or even a fan of Tiger Woods or not, you can't deny that the world witnessed one of the greatest comeback stories in sports history.
If you missed it, Tiger Woods won the Masters.
It had been 14 years since he last won the Masters, and it's been 11 years without a victory anywhere along the way. In fact many were saying that Tiger has been "lost in the wilderness" for the past 11 years.
But it's not the victory I want to discuss today. It's the wilderness.
Wilderness is defined as a place that is uninhabited, isolated, abandoned, and unfavorable. And that's exactly the state that Tiger Woods found himself in after his unfortunate events of the past 11 years (much by his own doing).
Aside from the chronic back pain he has been facing, he was carrying a much heavier and burdensome load - a scandal, a divorce, a car wreck, a mug shot, and all of this and more unfolding publicly to the masses.
He was isolated in an unfavorable place - mentally. And we all know that your mental state deeply impacts your physical state as well.
There were many (most) that wrote him off. He'll never be back on top. He's done. There's no coming back from this. He's finished. There were doubters, haters, and many people that would like nothing more than to drag him down. The voices were loud, and I feel pretty certain that his own internal voices were the loudest at times.
He was in the wilderness.
But what did he do while he was there? He kept working on himself both physically and mentally. He not only worked on his craft, but he worked on healing his emotions. Was it easy? No. Hell no. I'm sure it was hell. There were many failed comebacks, tournaments that he dropped out of, I'm sure public embarrassment, and very public ridicule.
But he kept working. Little-by-little he kept scratching and crawling his way through the wilderness. He blocked out the noise and silenced the voices. He didn't give up. He kept trying over and over and over again to move forward. And as he made his 11-year journey through the brush, as it started to clear he found himself standing on the mountaintop. On the other side was victory.
We all have a wilderness.
We all find ourselves at times in our lives in an unfavorable place where we feel lost and alone. Your wilderness might be depression, anxiety, low self-worth, or addiction. It could be unemployment, finances, troubled relationships, loss of a loved one, or sickness. And yes, it can even be your lack of health and fitness which is often the result of one of the previously mentioned states. But we all find ourselves in the wilderness at times. Every one of us can feel alone, overwhelmed, and hopeless at times.
And you better believe that there are those out there that will think - He'll never be back on top. She's done. There's no coming back from this. She's finished. There will be many loud voices and at times some no louder than your own. It's the wilderness; there will be noise.
But what will you do when you are there?
Will you let the doubters, the haters, and the weight of those that want to drag you down keep you from moving forward? Or will you keep working on YOU both mentally and physically? Will you give up? Or will you silence the voices and keep scratching and clawing your way through? Will you keep working and trying over and over and over again no matter what? Because if you do.....the brush will start to clear. And you will find that your journey through the brush was leading you to the mountaintop. You will be on the other side of victory.
"But, Mike. He's Tiger Woods!!! Who am I to think I can find my way to the mountain top?"
I'll tell you who you are. You are YOU! And here's something that I know about YOU. YOU are POWERFUL! You have all the same stuff inside of YOU that anybody else has. And you have your talents, your abilities, your spirit, and your heart. You have YOU. And YOU are capable to scratching and clawing your way anywhere you want to go - especially out of the wilderness and to the top of your mountain.
I'll leave you with this.
When Tiger got back to the top this past Sunday, he was elated and filled with emotion. He first went to hug his family that has stood by his side throughout it all. The noise from the past 11 years was replaced with rooting fans and people chanting his name. The truth is they had been there all along to support him, but he had to make his own way out of the wilderness to hear them.
I'll make you a deal.
If you ever find yourself lost in the wilderness, I will continue to root you on. I will chant your name. And I will make sure you hear me all the way to the mountaintop.