Thursday, 14 January 2010

Are Top Sports People the same as Top CEOs?

In reading the Tiger Woods driving story, you cannot help but wonder how the ruthless drive and ambition that are part of the success of athletes and sports people, can reside so comfortably with a sedate and calm personal life. In order to be great, you must believe you are great. In solitary sports, it is not about teamwork, it is more about self-centred beliefs and ambitions. Do top CEOs need the same application of ego, ambition and drive? Do they need to exclude all others in their self-centred purpose to get to the top?

I was recently coaching a top CEO and, no matter how you analysed him, yes it was a him, he had only one purpose: work. In many of the interactions I have with top people, nobody ever really complains about work/ life balance. Is it that surprising then to see the marriages of top sport performers facing challenges and problems? There can be little room for a partner who wants an equal and fair distribution of attention, and wants their personality, their needs to be equally considered. Now don’t get me wrong, I am no holy Moses telling other people how to live their lives! I just hate those commentators who seem to delight in the misfortune of others. Some of the absolute drivel they pontificate, at times, makes my hair stand on end.

But Tiger, five on the go at one time? I think against my non- judgemental moral compass that this is taking it to the extreme. Tiger obviously considers himself powerful and, like many, believes some rules of reasonable behaviour are not applicable to him. Being powerful and famous means that others are willing to do almost anything for them. They become "intoxicated" by their power. They believe that the rules that govern other people simply don't apply to them - what philosopher Terry Price calls "exceptioning." This is why celebrities and powerful politicians believe that they should "get a pass" when breaking the law or engaging in some other sort of social violation. And this gets reinforced because the devoted followers of the rich, famous, and powerful are all too willing to do whatever it takes to please the powerful person.

Maybe some of our politicians and bankers who like to mix with the sport stars believe they too can behave in a way that is inappropriate and, in many cases, we have just stopped asking is it right or wrong, and just started believing, if it’s not illegal then, what the hell!!!!!!


Gary Watson said...

'Exceptioning'. What a great expression. Like the super rich who cost us £3bn per annum in lost receipts because, as one of them said recently, "Paying tax is for little people". Zero convictions for this lot in 2009. Carry on as you are, gentleman, seems to be the message.

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