I grew up in Northeast Queensland. We moved down to Brisbane, and I left all my friends. I went out and caddied for my mother one day, who was a very good player. And I figured if she could play this game of golf, I could. And the bug bit me right there. A couple of years later I won my first professional golf tournament. And that was it. That was the catapult that gave me all the confidence as a sportsman to go out there and go to chase a dream that I had. So I seized the moment.
I realized I had this rare skill that nobody in my family had had before. Nobody in my family played professional sport. And I didn’t even know how strong my mind was until I got into the sport of golf and figured out it’s individual and everything you put into it, you get out of it. So every time I kept pushing myself and pushing myself and getting better and better and better, I just found that I enjoyed being the best I could possibly be.
If you are honing yourself to be successful at sport, like I was, you are honing your skills to win. That’s what you want to do. And if you are consistent on that basis of winning winning, and winning, it’s what you expect to do. Because that’s what you have trained yourself to do. So when you don’t do it, it comes a bit more of a shock to you.
I would say the most powerful negative to me was when I lost the U.S. Masters. I had a six-shot lead going into Sunday and, for whatever reason, I didn’t win it. What happened after that was a life-changing experience for me. I never realized how much support I had from the public out there. Not just in the United States, but on a global front. I still get support from people remembering what happened.
It really opened me up to the fact that you sometimes don’t realize how much support you have around you. And that taught me a huge lesson to understand what the consumer is looking for in terms of how I handle my defeats. Even though internally it was a shocking failure for me, I handled it in such a dignified fashion. People started realizing that, hey, there’s more to this guy than just a golfer. And I would say that moment in time made me appreciate the people of the world more than anything else.
You look back over your life, any aspect in life where you’ve had disappointments. When you’re a child, maybe not getting on a team. Maybe feeling let down because you didn’t win a championship. No matter what it is, life gives you all these disappointments. I’ve always been a big believer that you can take the negative and turn it into a positive.
Greg Norman is a retired professional golfer and CEO of the Greg Norman Company.