Whether or not you’re a golf fan, undoubtedly you know the name Tiger Woods. He’s an otherworldly talented golfer, constant tabloid figure, and highly compensated pitchman for everything from energy drinks to Rolexes.
I was a high school senior in 1997 when Tiger won his first Masters by blowing away the field, starting a revolution in and around golf in the process.
On the golf course, Tiger might be best known for his victory in the 2008 US Open. Tiger won the tournament, which happened about 6 months before his personal life unraveled in spectacular fashion, while suffering with two stress fractures and a torn ACL, all in his left leg.
Tiger reached the 72nd and last hole one shot behind journeyman Rocco Mediate. It all came down to a 15-foot putt. Make it, and there would be a playoff. Miss, and the pain of playing through his injuries for the last four days would only amount to second place. This is what happened:
What was lost in the spectacular footage and the roar of the crowd is what Tiger said after the round about the fateful putt:
“That was actually one of the worst parts of the green. It's so bumpy down there. And I just kept telling myself two-and-a-half balls outside the right, but make sure you stay committed to it, make a pure stroke and if it Plinkos in, or Plinkos out it doesn't matter, as long as I make a pure stroke.”
While I had to look up the specifics of his quote, I had no problem remembering the essence. To me, he was saying as long as he took care of what he could control – hitting a good putt – that he could live with whatever happened. Tiger focused on the process, not the results.
I think that concept – process over results – is one of the keys to investing. I believe that in the long run, focusing on a thoughtful process will lead to good outcomes. Making an informed selection rather than a spontaneous decision is the way to go, though that doesn’t mean there won’t be the occasional “right choice, wrong outcome” to gnaw at you.
You shouldn’t ignore the results, after all you can’t pay the bills with a process, but rather use the results to inform your process in the future. If the investment dropped, why? Was it something you could have anticipated? Or was it something that came out of left field that should just be chalked up as “stuff happens?” As Tiger said, “Winning is not always the barometer of getting better.”
Evaluating the process, and tweaking it where needed, will hopefully drive results down the road because, as Tiger Woods also said, “No matter how good you get you can always get better and that’s the exciting part.”
Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash