Recovering from a Crisis
Well here I am in St. John's Newfoundland. A truly beautiful city by the sea with some of the warmest and most generous people I know. Laura and I are here to do a seminar. We arrived just on the tail of the first major snowstorm of the winter and head back tomorrow night into the eye of the storm in Ottawa.
Of course we are saturated with the Tiger Woods 24 hour 'all-news-all-the-time' world. You think the Copenhagen Summit is important? That Afghanistan troop levels matter? That governments are up to their eye-balls in debt? What are you crazy? Didn't you hear? Tiger's a 'cheetah' and that's the biggest story of the year, right? Time Magazine will probably name him Man of the Year. However, as we know, "news" is not necessarily what's 'important' but what's 'urgent'. If it happens to athletes and celebrities; if you throw in sex and strange 'accidents' you have the perfect brew!
The way Tiger has handled it was obviously not the right way - it was begrudging, vague, and too little, too late to get into the driver's seat (no pun intended). So what should he do and say now that: (i) the mistress count is at nine and growing; (ii) his mother-in-law had to be taken to the hospital in the middle of the night, (iii) his long-suffering wife has likely already left him, (iv) the police suspect he had over-dosed on prescription medications. The spiral downward is picking up momentum.
Tiger Needs to Take Hold of this Situation
The two key questions that one is asked in managing a crisis are: 'what do we do and what do we say'?
Let's start with what he should do
1. Announce that he is taking a long leave of absence to focus on his family and marital troubles. This will serve to cool out the situation and build anticipation of his re-entry - refreshed and rarin' to go.
2. After about three months (in time for the Masters) he should return to his game with some semblance of stability in his personal life. If it's to be a divorce, then so be it. Uncertainty is what will kill him.
3. Find an opportunity before he returns to do a television interview with a respected broadcaster. Perhaps Matt Lauer? Anderson Cooper? Oprah? Diane Sawyer? Larry King? In the interview, he answers as many questions as he can to clear the air. Then he does what he does best - by getting back to work.
4. Once he returns he has to pick up where he left off, and win tournaments. When he does, his sponsors will be relieved and the controversy will fade into the background.
What should he say?
"I am deeply sorry for the pain I caused my wife and my family. This was entirely my fault, and there are no excuses or explanations to justify what I did. My wife is a wonderful person, and a great mother.
I don't blame her for leaving. She had to do what she thought was right. I hope that one day I can make this right and have my children proud of their dad.
I want to reiterate my apology to you, my fans. Your words of support have helped me more than you can know. I know I have let you down and I will do my best to make up for this by redoubling my efforts on the golf course and to live my life in a way that can justify your faith in me.
Finally I just want to say a few words to the many young people here and around the world who have looked up to me as a role model. I have always felt honored by that and I am sorry that I have not lived up to that. I do not want you to repeat my mistakes. I have learned some very important lessons in this terrible situation. The most important lesson is to be true to your values. I wasn't always true to mine and I deeply regret that."
Tiger has to remember that even though things look bleak, almost all of these situations are ultimately recoverable. But he must move boldly now, if he wants to recover from this personal crisis.
Until next time, let's all drop the stones and get back to our glass houses.