Barkley’s Advice for Tiger

…is good advice for anyone:

One of the keys to being successful is surrounding yourself with people who are always going to be honest. You’ve got to understand, most people who are around you [when you’re famous] work for you or are just kiss asses… That’s a major problem. You need to surround yourself with good people who are not going to kiss your ass and tell you what you want to hear. Who are always going to be honest.

That’s a really, really big problem especially when you’re in the limelight. Because the people around you work for you, they want you to buy the dinners all the time, buy the drinks… you have to have a group around you that will tell you that what you’re doing is wrong and help you make good decisions.

In the corporate world, they’re called “yes-men”. Other names include “flat-backers”, “brown-nosers”, “suckups”, “ankle-biters”. They’ll tell you anything you want to hear–in some cases, do literally ANYTHING (think “Monica”)–in order to keep the gravy flowing into their pockets. Their ranks include members of both sexes.

Celebrities have it particularly rough. Especially when it comes to medical professionals. This came to light in the aftermath of Elvis Presley’s death: his physician, Dr. Nick Nicopholous, would become a classic case study in medical ethics. We also saw the shady nature of Michael Jackson’s physician, who–perhaps due to financial strains–lacked the stones to refuse treatments that clearly violated every legitimate standard of medical ethics.

But professional athletes will have no small number of hangers-on, who will be eager to show their complete loyalty. The really good ones are those who are willing to call spades accordingly. The smart athletes are those who will listen to sound advice.

Outside the sports and entertainment worlds, it’s no different. If you’re a high-flying exec, you will have lower-ranked folks and outsiders who will pedestal you like a beta male fawns over a hot blonde. They’ll hang on your every word; they’ll do anything you want; they’ll never question anything.

If you rely on such folks, they will be your undoing. If such folks dominate your inner circle, there will be no end to the trouble you will find. You will fly blindly into disaster, and your fall will be catastrophic.

Did such a dynamic cause Tiger to fall? Honestly, I doubt it. That said, if his friends were aware of his sexual excesses and never warned him of the bad outcomes, then he was slouching toward disaster.

And at this point, it would be folly to call Tiger’s demise anything but a disaster. He hasn’t won a tournament in nearly 2 years. His play has been downright shoddy. While his competition has gained ground on him, he has lost ground. In his case, this could not have come at a worse time: he is in his late 30s, he’s had multiple knee surgeries, keeping fit is becoming more–not less–difficult. Ceteris paribus, Father Time is quite the bastard, no matter how fit you strive to be.

While others wish him the worst, I can’t say that I do. The guy has suffered plenty. He’s lost his wife, he has less contact with his children than before, and he now has suffered major setbacks in his quest to become the all-time leader in major championships. Where experts once predicted Tiger would shatter Nicklaus’ record, it is now looking like the Golden Bear might remain on top of that mountain. Where he was once an overwhelming fan favorite, he now receives no small number of boos in a sport where such fan conduct is considered verboten.

Would better accountability have kept all of this from happening? Maybe…maybe not.

One thing’s for sure, though: no matter your potential and talent, the choices you make early in your career will follow you every step up the ladder. They can enhance–or limit–your success. They can lead to your demise (think Ken Lay of Enron fame, or baseball star Darryl Strawberry, or even Mike Tyson) or they can put a black mark on your successes after the fact (Julius Erving and Michael Jordan in best-case scenarios, or Lenny Dykestra in the worst case) or they can hinder your otherwise unlimited potential. This is why Pete Rose may never see his plaque in Cooperstown, and why Tiger Woods may not overtake Nicklaus.

Celebrities aren’t gods, and the locker room is anything but a monastery. This goes for the most ostensible Christians–like Evander Holyfield, who sired no small number of children out of wedlock–and for those who made no claims to such religious orientation (Wilt Chamberlain).

That said, surrounding yourself with ass-kissers is a sure-fire way to exacerbate such weaknesses.

4 thoughts on “Barkley’s Advice for Tiger

  1. Proof positive that Tiger still doesn’t get it:

    After firing his longtime caddy (Steve Williams), he put Byron Bell on his bag. Bell is a longtime friend of Tiger, and is the head of his design company. He also reportedly set up many of Tiger’s extramarital adventures.

  2. absolutely priceless advice. we normally surround ourselves with people that make us feel good all the time and never stand us up. this is essential with women.

    MEN – when looking for a single lady to date, LOOK AT HER FRIENDS. who does she surround herself with? do any of her friends have the strength to stand her up? do they encourage stupid thinking, which always results in stupid behavior?

    things women will do:
    – “all” their friends are divorced, so they pick out the negative in her husband/man and encourage her to dis him.

    – they often speak disrespectfully of men in general, egging each other on till men are just scum.

    – they compete with each other over everything – career, beauty, hair style, clothing, ‘sexiness’, religious-ness, parenting, children, EVERYthing

    – many will talk about private and inappropiate parts of their relationships with their husband’s. there’s a place for revealing abusive behavior, but what happens in the bedroom, arguments, etc, needs to be kept private. make sure she knows where to draw the line … and her friends know where to draw the line.


    so, look for women who surround themselves with friends who encourage them, who encourage men, who are healthy with competition, who are honest and sincere about their faith and relationship with God, who speak positively about others and are not always zooming in on the negative in others, who are confident but not arrogant.

  3. @Cubbie
    Not surprising. Maybe his latest moves are his attempt to show the whole world that he still has it, that–with his competitive drive–he can will his way to victory.

    It would be quite impressive if he pulls that off.

    At any rate, he should be able to get a clear picture of where he really stands: his best mental toughness, his innate talent, and his current physical condition against a field of competitors that no longer fears him.

    In his best days, Tiger would pull spectacular shots out of thin air and make them look easy. Every par 5 was a potential eagle. Even when he didn’t win, he was high on the board. And in the big tournaments, he was always able to “bring it.” When he had that game on, the only one who could beat Tiger was Tiger.

    If his latest venture flops, it’s safe to say that he has a long road of rebuilding to do.

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