How I've Redefined Victory

Article excerpt

Byline: Tiger Woods

Last November, everything I thought I knew about myself changed abruptly, and what others perceived about me shifted, too. I had been conducting my personal life in an artificial way--as if detached from the values my upbringing had taught, and that I should have embraced.

The physical pain from that car accident has long healed. But the pain in my soul is more complex and unsettling; it has been far more difficult to ease--and to understand. But this much is obvious now: my life was out of balance, and my priorities were out of order. I made terrible choices and repeated mistakes. I hurt the people whom I loved the most. And even beyond accepting the consequences and responsibility, there is the ongoing struggle to learn from my failings.

At first, I didn't want to look inward. Frankly, I was scared of what I would find--what I had become. But I'm grateful that I did examine my life because it has made me more grounded than I've ever been; I hope that with reflection will come wisdom. Golf is a self-centered game, in ways good and bad. So much depends on one's own abilities. But for me, that self-reliance made me think I could tackle the world by myself. It made me think that if I was successful in golf, then I was invincible. Now I know that, no matter how tough or strong we are, we all need to rely on others.

Slowly, I'm regaining the balance that I'd lost. My healing process is far from complete, but I am beginning to appreciate things I had overlooked before. I'm learning that some victories can mean smiles, not trophies, and that life's most ordinary events can bring joy. Giving my son, Charlie, a bath, for example, beats chipping another bucket of balls. Making mac and cheese for him and his sister, Sam, is better than dining in any restaurant. …