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On Monday morning, as has been my annual habit for
the past 35 years or so, I watched the conclusion of the Masters golf
tournament.

 

The Masters, one of golf’s four majors, is especially
revered for Australian players as no Australian has managed to win the
converted green jacket, with Greg Norman   (three times runner-up)
coming closest.

 

Queenslander, Adam Scott  , had finished tied
for second at the 2011 Masters and last year had the British Open within
his grasp before blowing a four shot lead over the final four holes to
finish second.

 

The British Open meltdown was a very big, very public
and very high profile failure. Many golfing scribes speculated that,
like his hero Greg Norman, the scars of such a loss would be too much
for him to overcome if he was to win a major.

 

Scott had long been touted as the ‘next big thing’ in
golf due to his pure ball striking ability and power. The sponsors and
fans loved him because of his athletic appearance and classic good
looks. A few years ago Scott had ascended as high as #3 in the world
rankings but had not progressed any further due to his failure to
capture one of golf’s majors, the unquestioned benchmark of a quality
player.

 

At 32 years of age (by which age Tiger Woods had won
13 majors), it appeared that Scott might be destined to forever wear the
‘not quite good enough’ tag.

 

On Sunday afternoon (US time) as joint tournament
leader, Scott stepped up to a long birdie putt on the final hole of
regulation play. Putting had long been Scott’s downfall. Making the putt
would almost certainly secure him victory. He nailed the putt and pumped
his fist wildly; surely he had broken his drought and would win his
first major?

 

Back out on the course, in the final playing group,
was 2009 Master champion Angel Cabrera  . As the first Argentinean
to win the Masters, Cabrera was a complete contrast to Scott. As a chain
smoking, overweight, long time journeyman player, Cabrera had never won
a US Tour event until he won the 2007 US Open at the age of 37.

 

Cabrera had given up his lead earlier in the day, and
now, facing the prospect of matching Scott’s birdie on the final hole,
appeared to have little chance of forcing a playoff. Calmly he drilled
his approach shot to within one metre of the hole and holed the putt to
tie with Scott at 9 under par.

 

After having the title tournament within his grasp,
Scott now faced a playoff. All those past failures must surely have
jumped into his head as he headed back onto the course.

 

The first playoff hole was tied. On the second
playoff hole both players had makeable birdie putts. Cabrera, closer to
the hole but on a more challenging line, missed his putt by about 3cm.
Scott stepped up with the knowledge that holing his putt would win him
the Masters. He calmly stroked the ball into the middle of the cup to
win the playoff and secure the 2013 Masters Championship.

 

As I watched Scott and his entourage celebrate his
famous victory, I thought of  my friend, Margie Warrell’s  
latest book,
Stop Playing Safe (you may have seen Margie on
Weekend Sunrise a couple of weeks ago engaging in a delightful repartee
with co-host

Larry Emdur
  as they
discussed the merits of ‘tooting your horn’).

 

In considering the magnitude of Adam Scott’s
achievement, I picked up Margie’s book and turned to one of my favourite
sections (from Chapter 6: Seize opportunity from your adversity):

 

If you’re succeeding at everything you set out to
do, you’re surely not aiming high enough. Failure is not something to be
feared or avoided. It’s the lack of it you need to be careful about
because one day; as you look back on your life, you’ll see that it was
from your failures that you grew the most, and gained the most wisdom,
and that they provided the stepping stones to your success (even of you
didn’t feel that way at the time) and to all the other challenges that
came along after them. Defeat is not the worst of failures. The worst
failure is not to have tried. So if you want to succeed more, double
your failure rate.

 

If you’re not missing a few shots here and there
on a regular basis then consider that it’s not because you’re playing
smart, but because you’re playing safe. One day when you look back on
your life you’ll see what it’s how you’ve coped with your failures,
not the failures themselves  (my bold), that determined the shape of
your life and the state of the heart.

 

(Stop
Playing Safe by Margie Warrell
, Wiley,
2013, pages 175 & 176)

 

I know golf is only a game but Adam Scott proved how
much he had coped with, and learned from, those previous failures;
especially that 2012 British Open loss, a failure that may have sunk a
lesser person.

 

I can only imagine how much sweeter his Masters
victory must have been for him knowing the despair and soul searching
that surely must have come from that   loss the previous year.

 

When I look back at the many public failures I have
had in my life (as a recruiter, as a leader, as a business owner, as a
father and as a husband, to name just a few), I now see that how I coped
with, and learned from, those failures created the seeds of my future
success.

 

Congratulations Adam Scott – your failures have truly
been the making of you and your Masters success.

 

2 Comments

  1. Jamie Smith on 17/04/2013 at 2:32 am

    Great article and certainly got me thinking. For someone who is reasonably risk adverse, it makes you think that being risk adverse is risky in itself.

  2. Ross Clennett on 19/04/2013 at 9:42 pm

    Yes, I agree, Jamie. There is a lot of risk in playing (what appears to be) safe, especially in such a fast moving, ever changing world.

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