There is something better than being The Best.
Something that the hearts of men cannot help but Revere.
Better and best do have their day in the limelight.
But the one who achieves a special significance of this one thing has a special place in history reserved only for them.
Being the best is certainly grand.
But being The Only is in a class by itself.
Understand this: The only man who “competes” is the one has not become a Master.
And the reason he has not become a Master is because he has not been trained to be one.
Masters are untouchable. They have no reason to compete. For there is no one who can match them.
One of the greatest examples of this generation is Tiger Woods.
The world didn’t flock to Tiger because he was “the best.”
Tiger was indeed “the best.” But there have been others before him that have also been “the best,” and they never received near the adulation he did.
You see, they may have been “the best.” But he is “Tiger Woods.”
They may have been the best, but he is The Only.
To prove my point, these days Tiger is the 668th ranked golfer in the world.
Would you like to know what’s more incredible?
Every week of every year in every media outlet around the world . . .
No matter who’s currently winning . . .
No matter what news breaks across the sports world . . .
The question that is at the forefront of the mind of every reporter and every media outlet is “When is Tiger going to return?”
And when he does return to a tournament, the sales go through the roof. The television ratings skyrocket. The public imagination is captivated.
Do you know of any other 668th ranked professional athlete in the history of the world who could generate such world adulation?
Then why does it happen?
Because Tiger is The Only.
The Champions Locker Room at Augusta National Golf Club is one of professional sports’ most hallowed grounds.
The most exclusive golf club in the world. With security that rivals Fort Knox (literally). It is a place of legend and lore. And Augusta National’s latest technology that itself has become stuff of legend is something you might not believe if I was at liberty to reveal it to you.
Magnolia Lane is golf’s most prestigious drive. Reserved only for Masters Champions, their coaches, and family. When you enter the hidden and strategically inconspicuous gates of Augusta National you are greeted by an army of security officers. And what you find in front of you is something out of a science fiction film. Augusta is renowned for its secrecy. It “strongly suggests” that those who are among its inner circle “refrain” from revealing its details to the outside world. So I am bound by a covenant of good faith to remain tight-lipped. (I’m very sorry.)
Augusta National is most certainly an “Only.”
The Champions Locker Room at Augusta is an only within an only. It is the most sacred real estate in this shrine. Reserved only for those players who have won the Masters, and their coaches. In each locker hangs a Green Jacket, the most coveted prize in all of professional golf.
The first time I walked into the Champions Locker Room, I noticed a plaque in the back right corner. I find myself gravitating toward it whenever I go. As I gaze at the list I see several names listed once. And then I see Tiger’s name listed Four Times!
While it’s true that Jack won the Master’s Six Times (he’s another Only), in this era Tiger Woods is by far the dominant golfer of his generation.
Given that in any domain in which I am involved I am obsessed by The Truth, the first thought that went through my mind was this:
Tiger knows something that the other elite players on this plaque do not.
Tiger’s much more pleasant than the media gives him credit for. In his heyday he was Aloof. It’s instructive that in recent years he has been less aloof than I’d like him to be. There’s been more pressure on him to be more “media friendly,” and “accessible.”
This is the kiss of death. It detracts from who he is. And certainly from who he once was.
But nonetheless, he remains The Only.
And while human beings will certainly applaud “the best,” their hearts and their imaginations will forever be reserved for The Only.
The one of a kind. The only one in existence. Found nowhere else on the planet.
This is something worth doing. This is something worth giving your life to.
In my work with professional athletes, I often tell them: All around the world I see hockey games won by a single goal, and PGA Tour tournaments won by a single stroke.
The world sees that a particular person or team “Won!”
That isn’t what I see.
What I see is a group of people who have not differentiated themselves at all. Instead they have grown toward each other.
Winning by a fingernail does not mean you’re the best. It means that you fortunately won by a fingernail. What pride is there in that?
The man who captures my attention is a man like Miyamoto Musashi. I bow in reverence to such a man.
At age thirteen he retreated to the jungles of Japan and ate wild berries and conquered his Mind. He went down as the single greatest swordsman in history.
Musashi was not just “the best.”
Musashi was The Only.
He had No Equal. He was one of a kind.
This is why I’m talking about him over 400 years after his birth.
He never lost a single fight.
Because he was The Only!
He had trained himself to become a Master. And that is exactly what he became.
In the modern world of Corporations and Professional Sports, man fights for the scraps at the bottom of glorified dumpsters.
He quibbles over a goal or a point or stroke or a dollar. Because that is all he has trained himself to be.
It matters not how wealthy you are. Or what your stock price is. Or how many employees you have. Or how man Academy Awards you’ve won. Or how many trophies line your mantle.
I only wish to look you square in the eyes, and ask you with a soft voice:
Are you training to become The Only?