Here’s a Tiger Woods divorce update you weren’t expecting: his damage control skills offer you many important lessons in how to manage your money and marriage problems. Of course the obvious lesson is to be faithful, honest and true. Those are the easy ones.
But consider the idea of “damage control.”
For a moment, put aside your feelings about what he did to himself, his family, his fans and his sport. Tiger’s mea culpa on Friday is a textbook example of how to handle a crisis well. And if you and your “Sponge Cake” ever fight – about money or anything else – you’d be well advised to take a good look at how Tiger handled the crisis.
Let’s break it down to see which nuggets you can use:
1. Take a “time-out.”
Once Tiger’s insane behavior surfaced, he realized he had no idea what to do. He gave himself time to think and regroup. He didn’t deny anything – which, as former President Clinton will tell you, can make matters infinitely worse.
When in doubt, shut up. A quick verbal response to allegations of doing something wrong never ever helps. Don’t lie and don’t attack. Just be still. Give yourself time to think.
2. Be honest – in private.
Tiger and his family sailed away into the wild blue yonder. This gave everyone time to let the reality of what was happening sink in – and it also isolated them from the media. Good move.
If you are in a social situation and some problem surfaces, financial or otherwise, don’t air it out right there. If your spouse throws a metaphorical golf club your way, duck…but don’t respond. Try your best to make the exchange private. Make sure the only people who are part of the negotiations are the parties directly involved.
3. Get help.
I don’t follow golf and I don’t know anything about Tiger, but I hear he’s not very down-to-earth. Say what you want, but my guess is that it wasn’t easy for him to check into a rehab center. I have to give him credit for getting help.
Simple. If you have a problem, don’t let your ego stand in your way. Ask for help. There are so many resources available to you…just use them. I don’t care if the problem is debt, spending or financial planning. Whatever it is, there are tons of resources. Just ask for help.
If you don’t know who to ask…search the internet. Heck, send me an e-mail; I’ll try to help if I can. Don’t stay stuck just because you don’t know where to find a solution. Admit what the problem is, admit you can’t do it on your own and ask for help.
4. Make amends to the people you hurt.
You may or may not believe that Tiger is sorry for what he’s done. You may believe it’s all about the money and restoring his image. I personally believe that he was being contrite and honest. I believe that he’s going to try to get himself on track. But all that doesn’t matter at this moment.
The lesson is that he got out there and made an effort to apologize to all the people he’s hurt.
If you made some financial blunder that hurt others, you’ll be doing yourself and everyone around you a huge favor by trying to set things right again. Why? Because if you walk around with shame about some past behavior, it’s going to come out sideways. Ever noticed that when you feel bad about yourself, you aren’t all peaches and cream to other people? I don’t know why this is true, but it is.
Shame is toxic to you and everyone around you. The best way to do a toxic clean-up is to be honest, admit your mistakes to the people you hurt and try to make it right.
That’s the best way to get rid of the shame that makes you hurt yourself and other people.
5. Stay alert.
Tiger said that he’s not through. He’s got a long road ahead and he’s going to keep working towards staying healthy.
I like that idea.
If you have some recurring financial issue, don’t put a Band-Aid on it and expect the problem to disappear. Stay alert. Continue to educate yourself and stay accountable. There is no magic wand that makes problems go away. If you need to make more money, get a second job. Do what it takes. Get going.
What Tiger didn’t talk about was the risk of failure.
In my opinion, Tiger has a serious illness. An addiction. Not everybody who suffers from addiction recovers immediately. Sometimes they slip up. If you blow it, it’s important to take all the steps I’ve outlined above, but it’s also important to remember that you’re only human. You might make mistakes too. You might not do it perfectly. You might fail.
That’s the price of being a human being and you have to make allowances for that. Don’t give up if you mess up again. Get back on the saddle.
Sure, Tiger had handlers and helpers coaching him on every move. He likely had speech writers and lawyers crafting every word he said. On the outside chance that you don’t have those resources available when you mess up, don’t sweat it. The basics of what Tiger Woods did counted most – not the exact words or the way he did it.
Take a time-out to gather your thoughts. Get honest in private and get help. Make amends to the people you’ve hurt, stay alert and don’t expect perfection.
Damage control isn’t about making problems go away but it’s a critical skill to master. Of course I hope that your “mistakes” aren’t as grave as those Tiger committed. But nonetheless, there is much to learn by how he handled himself on Friday.
What say you? What have I missed? Is there a better way to handle damage control? What have been your experiences?