Deserving to win….

Date: 25th July 2011

Darren Clarke, Winner, British Open 2011

I know the prevailing wisdom is that most people really don’t care about other people’s success – in business and life. Sure, they might shake your hand when your hard work leads to good fortune, but deep down they believe they deserve it more.

Watching the British Open this past weekend renewed my faith. We got to see how people really root for a guy who deserves to win.

When Ireland’s Darren Clarke, a 42 year old long-time professional golfer who had never won a major, raised his hands in victory? The entire golf world gave him a standing O. Not because he was an underdog. We all love underdogs, but this isn’t that kind of story. They stood in acknowledgement of Clarke’s refusal to give up, on a long, winding and bumpy road through life and career.

The cold, rainy, windy weather made it all the more fitting environment for Clarke’s big moment. After losing his wife Heather to cancer five years ago, some thought his considerable “talent would be lost to personal tragedy,” according to one sportwriter. Yet here he stood, a slightly overweight, average looking everyman; a guy who had kept on keeping on – trying to find his greatness.

Approaching 18, on the verge of prevailing over Phil Mickelson and one of golf’s new stars Dustin Johnson, and it all seemed so right. Even Mickelson, whose own wife has battled breast cancer, had his arms around the guy at the closing ceremony.

The television announcers, even the American ones, gushed; couldn’t happen to a better more deserving guy, they agreed. He thanks his parents, his fiance, “someone looking down from up there;” his manager, Chubby Chandler (who apparently admonished Clarke to lose a few pounds – some kind of irony from a guy named Chubby); even the greens keepers for their hard work in maintaining a beautiful course. Frankly I can’t remember ever hearing a golf champion say that. Certainly not Tiger Woods.

There’s something about never giving up, and an attitude of gratitude, that makes the crowd really roar. We all intend to be that way. Clarke shows us how.

As leaders, I think it’s not an unimportant question to ask…do people root for you? Because being a winner is great. But we should raise a pint of Guiness to the winner that people cheer for.

Article by Suzanne Bates- Bates Communication

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