As of the time I am writing this, 59 year old Tom Watson, one of the sports hero's of my youth, is leading the British Open with a -4 under score and a game that is almost mystically good. It is Saturday night and tomorrow may bring one of the greatest sports victories and personal achievements in history, with this man with a recently replaced hip and a few weeks shy of his 60th birthday not only playing amazing golf but handling the pressure with amazing calm.
What strikes me in watching Watson, and this was reinforced in the post round interviews, is how under control his game is, but how transparent his emotions are as the enormity of what he is doing grows with each hole he plays. His comments that he was thinking of his long time caddie who passed away a few years ago with Lou Gerhig's disease, his deep respect for the game of golf, but further his level of expectations for himself that clearly indicate he doesn't show up to just play the round, but shows up with an intention of competing and winning.
His comment that " I had a plan coming into this tournament and I am working that plan" really stuck with me.
Too often as we get older we tend to think our best days have passed us by. That some how God or life gave us one shot for greatness or success, but that if we in some way fell short, or perhaps reached the top and then slipped into a life of complacency that we are consigned to simply "showing up for tournaments" and being happy to just make the cut.
For those of you who are students of history, business, theology or sports, life is full of magnificent examples of those who not only bounced back from failures to achieve greatness, but also those who reached the top and then fell, only to find later a chance to be at the top again, usually with even greater satisfaction then the first time around.
Ray Kroc was a failed, worn out milk shake machine salesman when he walked into the McDonald Brothers and saw the future of fast food and built McDonalds.
Winston Churchill was a washed up, almost pathetic figure in British history until late in life his chance at redemption came and he led his nation from almost certain defeat to it's greatest victory in WWII.
Steve Job's was forced out of the company he started at Apple and wandering in the technology wilderness until he was called back to catapult Apple to greater heights and success with Itunes, Ipod and other products that completely reshaped entire industries.
George Forman was a washed up boxer and small town preacher and evangelist who just needed to make some money for his church when he relaunched an improbable boxing career that ended with him winning the heavy weight championship again at age 45.
Job, one of the most faithful of all characters in the Jewish and Christian theology had everything stripped from him and his life apparently in ruins, but by his stead fast faith all that he lost was restored to even greater glory then what he had before his losses.
Now comes Tom Watson, the decent, hard working, spiritual man who refuses to accept that the passing of time means he can't go out and "work his plan" against anyone of any age and still compete and win at the highest level.
In my profession, the structured settlement business is unfortunately filled with way too many guys who are simply showing up and playing out the string, instead of realizing that the next decade is going to produce the single greatest selling opportunity we have had in a generation. High tax rates, high interest rates and a flight to safety in investing and savings all will combine to move structured settlements to the forefront of almost every settlement plan. Yet what I hear and see are only a small minority of brokers and agents willing to still "work the plan" and expecting to win every day to grow their businesses and grow our profession.
Take a tip from Tom Watson, who whether he win's or loses, will have set an example that age, physical limitations and the expectations of others are no excuse for just showing up and mailing it in.
Develop a plan. Expect it to work. Execute the plan and get up on the leader board instead of showing up for the free sleeve of golf balls and a couple of drinks in life.