3 Life-Changing Lessons from Jordan Spieth's Open Championship Win

Photo by  Viktor Kiryanov  on  Unsplash
"Here we go again."

Jordan Spieth had just hit a drive an amateur golfer would be ashamed of hitting.

But Spieth was the 3rd ranked golfer in the world, and he did it on the 13th hole during the final round of a major championship on Sunday.

And this wasn't the first time Spieth has "blown it" in one of these tournaments.

At the 2016 Masters Tournament, Spieth had a 5-shot lead with only 9 holes to go.

Three holes later, he made quadruple-bogey. He lost the tournament by 3 shots in what is considered one of the worst meltdowns in professional golf history.

This nightmare from the Masters resurfaced at the Open on Sunday. How could it not?

"As you can imagine, thoughts came in from my last scenario when I was leading a major on Sunday." -Jordan Spieth

At this point, Spieth had already dropped three shots in the final round.

And then came the shocking drive, which put Spieth at risk of another meltdown on the sport's biggest stage.

He creatively took a one-stroke penalty so that he could move his ball onto the driving range, and give himself a chance to make bogey.

After a mediocre shot from the driving range, then a decent chip, Spieth made an 8-foot putt to secure his bogey.

He impressively minimized the damage, but after starting the day with a 3-shot lead, he was now down a shot with only 5 holes to play.

Lesson #1: It's not about what happens to you, it's how you respond

"Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive." -Jamais Cascio

When Jordan Spieth began his final round on Sunday, he did not expect to play poorly. But that's exactly what happened.

He could have panicked. He could have started blaming something or someone else. He could have stayed really down on himself. Most of us would have.

Instead of telling himself a story of sorrow and disappointment, Spieth told himself a story of opportunity and resilience.

And it worked.

  • 14th hole: Birdie. Almost a hole-in-one. Tied for the lead again.
  • 15th hole: Eagle. Makes a 50-ft putt. One-shot lead.
  • 16th hole: Birdie.
  • 17th hole: Birdie.
  • 18th hole: Open Champion by 3 shots.

As much as I love being an entrepreneur, there have been times in our first two years of business when it's been extremely difficult. There have been moments when quitting would have been so much easier.

  • A verbal "yes" from a transformational potential client that ends up turning to nothing
  • An amazing meeting with an influencer that could catapult the business fizzles out
  • Humongous investments of time and money into high-potential projects that end up being unusable or producing nothing
  • Not getting paid for an entire year
  • Seeing the business bank account drop to 25 cents

Maybe it was ignorant, but I didn't expect these things to happen. They just happened.

Things will happen to you, too.

  • A bad boss
  • A frustrating assignment
  • An unfulfilling job
  • An underwhelming pay increase
  • A stagnant promotion cycle
  • A personal crisis
  • Loss of a loved one

But it's not about what happens to you, it's how you respond.

The more ambitiously you set your goals, the more vulnerable you become. The more likely you are to experience setbacks.

“They say there is no light without dark, no good without evil, no male without female, no right without wrong. That nothing can exist if it's direct opposite does not also exist.” -Laurell K. Hamilton, Incubus Dreams

Whether it's going for your dream job, starting your own company, or building amazing relationships, there will be adversity.

Spieth's performance provided me with an incredible reminder that even when it seems impossible to stop a bad trend and change direction, it's not.

Even when the adversity seems insurmountable, it's not.

The question is not whether or not you will experience adversity. You will.

The question is, how will you respond?

Lesson #2: You can't do it alone

Jordan Spieth in Cabo with Michael Phelps, Russell Wilson, Dwight Freeney, Michael Jordan, and Fred Couples

Jordan Spieth in Cabo with Michael Phelps, Russell Wilson, Dwight Freeney, Michael Jordan, and Fred Couples

"Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who'll argue with you." -John Wooden

Most people think of golf as an individual sport.

One thing you'll notice about Jordan Spieth's interviews is that he almost always says "we," referring to himself and his caddy, Michael Greller.

"We played well today." "We had to battle out there."

Probably because Spieth always relies so heavily on Greller as if it were a team sport.

A wise move on Sunday.

  • On the 7th, Greller told Spieth, "I've got something to say to you. Do you remember that group you were with [in Cabo]? You're that caliber of an athlete. But I need you to believe that right now because you're in a great position in this tournament. This is a new tournament. We're starting over here."
  • On the potentially disastrous 13th hole, Greller had Spieth hit a 3-iron when he wanted to hit a 3-wood. The 3-iron was absolutely the right club.
  • After Spieth made his huge bogey putt on 13, Greller stopped him and said, "hey, that's a momentum shift right there." Spieth credited this comment as the spark that helped him believe he could win the tournament.

I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am today if it weren't for the people in my life, especially the "caddies" I've intentionally surrounded myself with:

  • My brother Joseph is my co-founder and ultimate motivator. He does everything extremely well that I don't.
  • Our business coach has been where we want to go and is one of our greatest supporters. In just a few months, she has absolutely transformed our business.
  • Our mentors are people with amazing experiences and an incredible belief in us as individuals and entrepreneurs.
  • Our peers are others who have rejected the traditional path to pursue passionate, impactful work, and fully support what we do.

Yesterday reminded me to rely on my caddies.

A caddy is someone who believes unwaveringly in you, your mission, and your goals. Someone that makes you better. Someone that can help pick you up out of the darkness.

Nothing special can be accomplished alone. So ask yourself, who are you surrounding yourself with when you face adversity? Who's there to catch you when you doubt yourself?

Who are your caddies?

Lesson #3: Age is just a number

"Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese." Luis Bunuel

With his win on Sunday, Jordan Spieth set records and joined some prestigious company:

  • First player in golf history with 10+ PGA Tour wins and 3 majors before turning 24
  • One of 16 other golfers to have ever won 3 of the 4 major championships
  • The youngest American to ever win the Open Championship

Not only do his tangible records defy what's "normal" at his age, but his intangible characteristics like his poise, communication, and maturity are "beyond his years."

We've had many instances in our business when others have considered our age a disadvantage. We've lost respect, credibility, and program opportunities because of it.

In other instances, age has been a tremendous advantage:

  • Being able to relate with younger students and our peer group of young professionals
  • Having an open mind about people, technology, and changing directions

One of the entrepreneurs I look up to and get help from with my writing most often is two years younger than me.

We know our age doesn't matter. Your age doesn't matter either.

It's about results, and to get results you have to get started.

You can always come up with reasons to put off starting your ultimate life. You can always say you need more time. More money. More information. More experience.

You don't.

All you have to do is decide where you want to go, how far you are from that now, and what you need to do to bridge the gap.

Then go. Because it's never too soon.

Disrupt The Cycle

"The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity." -Joshua Waitzkin

What are you willing to endure for your ultimate life?

If work and life feel separate, if you get substantially more excited for life outside of work, it's time to make a change.

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