Having grown up in a basketball town and personally having my own competitive streak, I've been something of a sports fan all my life. My enthusiasm though for sporting events has waned in the last few years due to the corporate takeover of most sports and the obscene amounts of money associated with them.
Yet yesterday I, who haven't watched a round on television in a year, got caught up in the British Open as 25 year old Rory McIlroy entered the final day in the lead. There is something magical about this young man for me for here I sit a day after his victory and although I didn't win a thing, I am smiling. Yes, I am smiling because something more important than money was won yesterday.
|McIlroy with the treasured claret jug -photo courtesy of ESPN and my tv :)|
This is the story inspired by Rory McIlroy three years ago. It's message has even more meaning for our world today.
Though his victory is a week old, ancient in today’s news cycle, I’ve continued to ponder Rory McIlroy’s winning golf’s US Open. At the young age of 22, McIlroy has I suspect kept golf writers and analysts busy this week dissecting the techniques or secret to his record setting and recording tying win last Sunday in Bethesda, Maryland just outside the nation’s capitol.
For those unfamiliar with this young Irish golfer’s story, it’s not just any story. There are four coveted majors in golf - the Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship.
In April McIlroy entered Sunday’s final round at the Masters with the lead having led each of the three days prior. Then before the golfing world he proceeded to shoot the worst round in Master’s history by any professional golfer leading after the third round. He went from first on the leader board at the day’s start to tied for fifteenth at day’s end. McIlroy’s play mid-round set the stage for major humiliation when he triple bogeyed the tenth hole followed by two three putts and another shot hit into the water.
The proverbial wheels came off yet McIlroy did as most men do not. With all of golf watching, he publicly owned his disappointment and heartbreak responding in complete contrast to how men generally respond when vulnerable.
I still recall Australia’s Greg Norman in the ’96 Masters blowing the largest 54 hole lead in Master’s history to loose in the last round. Rather than owning his disappointment, Norman chalked it up to a bad day vowing he’d forget about it and go out and play again.
He definitely had a bad day and resorting to analyzing his game rather than owning his full emotional experience led to bad weeks, months and years as his golf game was never the same.
After McIlroy’s meltdown, rather than resorting to positive thinking and rationalizing as happens in our head over heart, disconnected, disown your insides, don’t let them see you vulnerable society, McIlroy owned his insides rather than acting like they didn’t exist.
In our not-so-open society, he spoke to reporters from his heart. He was transparent and real after a devastating loss thus increasing his chances of ultimately winning.
Sponsors will now pursue this young man, needing his commercial presence to capitalize on his recent success and maximize their profits.
I suggest men and many women of the United States need McIlroy. We need his authenticity and willingness to own the spectrum of emotional experience from heart break to joy as was so beautifully displayed at the Master’s and the Open.
We need you, Rory McIlroy, because you won the Open in a society that is emotionally not-so open. When embarrassed and humiliated as you could have easily been, you didn’t deny or hide your emotional self. You named and claimed your full experience.
Americans including many politicians could benefit from this young man’s beautiful example of owning the full array of human experience without shame. The disowning of experience and vulnerability lends itself to an internal disconnect laying the foundation for quiet shame, compulsions and addictions evidenced in politicians and authorities who serve as mirrors for a deeper dynamic In our culture.
We could all learn a lesson from this young man’s playbook. The lesson of taking the risk to be authentic in the face of vulnerability would dramatically alter our daily personal interactions potentially influencing global interactions.
Rory McIlroy, wherever you are, I encourage you to stay open. Continue to be a model of emotional authenticity. Continue to experience the light in a child’s eyes as I’ve read you did in Haiti and take time off from tournaments as you’re doing presently. If you continue to be true to yourself and not what others want you to be, you are already a Master of the secrets to a deeply satisfying journey.You’ll stay atop life’s leader board, the one that counts far more than the one holding Sunday’s scores.
-Dawn, The Good News Muse 26 June 2011
and joyfully again 21 July 2014