Posted by: Knightbird | January 24, 2011

“Think Like Tiger: An Analysis of Tiger Woods’s Mental Game”

I have written before that “problems are treasures” and “see a defect, fix a defect.” Now I read that Tiger Woods mother was a Lean Thinker as well with her philosophy about mistakes. In the book of the name in the title of this post, John Andrisani writes that “Rich Lerner of the Golf Channel says that ‘when Tiger was young and hit bad shots, his Buddhist mother reminded him that he was human, capable of making mistakes’. The secret, she explained, was not to make the same mistake twice and channel any anger into positive energy to make future shots better.”

Someone else, maybe his mother as well, taught Tiger that change is not to be feared. This great golfer has also changed his swing a number of times. This sounds a lot like continuous improvement. Various reports in the media talk about him being an “obsessive” student of the game who looks for every hint or clue that might help him improve his game. He will also use the expert advice of coaches (or in Lean terms, Sensei’s).

I often talk about the fact that no one is perfect, we all make mistakes, and our goal should always be to correct our mistakes. After all, we have an obligation to provide the maximum amount of value we are capable of providing to our customers.

When I was much younger, I had a boss who played favorites, preferred politics over performance and was completely unaware of the relationship of bad processes to poor performance. I was called out on the carpet and told I would be fired if I did not correct an issue that was not my fault, but was related to his negotiation of an agreement with a huge hole in it. I corrected the issue and promptly submitted my resignation. I learned a lot about what happens in an organization that is blame and shame, plays favorites and does not understand team concepts and the role of bad processes.

Tiger’s Mom taught him some great lessons. We can learn from them as well. The mental side of running a business is critical to an employee’s ability to be introspective about mistakes, fix them and avoid anger.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Graban, Wolfgang Bülo. Wolfgang Bülo said: RT @LeanBlog: Patrick Anderson: “Think Like Tiger: An Analysis of Tiger Woods’s Mental Game” #lean #CEO […]

  2. Just a side note, but I think over the years Tiger has lost some of that learning. The past few years I’ve noticed him losing his cool often when he hits a bad shot, and even being somewhat rude to a reporter or two, and this was before the big personal controversy he had…

    It’s good learning when he follows it, though.

    • I agree Mark. It just goes to show that we all have bad days, but a mother who teaches you that mistakes are OK, just learn from them, is one heck of a mother.

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