How Can You Avoid Being “Bigger Than the Game?”

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Originally posted November 30, 2010

Almost 4 years ago the sports world was rocked by news of the Tiger Woods scandal. Today I want to look back at an article I posted on the one-year anniversary of the scandal, where a Tiger Woods quote sounded a vital warning to leaders everywhere.

tiger woods

The sports headlines are all carrying the same message this week; “The Anniversary of ‘The Scandal’ “.

You don’t have to read the articles to know that they’re talking about Tiger Woods. It’s been a year since his fall from grace; a year since that notorious car accident in front of his house, and the subsequent revelation that golf’s wonder boy had ruined his family, and his reputation, by maintaining adulterous affairs with as many as a dozen or more mistresses.

It took Woods many months before he finally addressed the media about his failings, but when he did a single sentence said it all.

“I thought I was bigger than the game.”

Bigger than the game. How many leaders have we seen come crashing down because they thought they had arrived at the place where they were above the rules?

Think of King Saul. Israel’s first King had it all. Samuel describes him as “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” (1 Samuel 9:2) As King, Saul had a 30-year run in leadership and achieved great things for Israel.

But eventually he thought he was bigger than the game. He took it upon himself to offer sacrifices; something God permitted only a priest to perform.

Samuel’s rebuke of Saul was as stinging as anything Tiger Woods ever heard.   “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure.” (1 Samuel 13: 13-14)

I don’t know what all of this means for you, but let me suggest three questions that will help you discern if you might be acting like you are bigger than the game:

  • Do you ever allow yourself more latitude than you would extend to your staff?
  • Do you ever rebuke your staff for behaviour you know you’re guilty of yourself?
  • Do you ever expect more of your team than you’re willing to commit to yourself?

Weigh in on this… How do you prevent yourself from behaving like you’re bigger than the “game”?

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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