Last week I heard a phrase that stood out for me. It sounded like a common phrase people use in their usual banter but it stuck in my mind. Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. This is an apt description of how we celebrate people after a great achievement. We are proud to be associated with Eliud Kipchoge now after yet another big win, the London marathon. Very few of us have dug to find out how he got there. Maybe it’s just our human nature to desire the fruits of success without the effort of planting, pruning and watering the tree.

In the golfing world we are still high on Tiger woods winning the Masters. Pundits have predicted there will never be another Tiger in our generation and I tend to agree with them. Especially after he had been buried (golf wise) and forgotten. This guy is good for golf whereas golf is good for the rest of us. So many folks globally are eating humble pie quietly now after they swore that Tiger would never return to the top of the game. Here at home many golfers followed him keenly on screens for hours over the four days of the Masters Championship last month. Tiger’s performance was epic to say the least. Almost supernatural. He announced his comeback by winning one of golf’s most celebrated events globally.

As usual, after the win social media was abuzz with comments and photos of him. Nike, his main sponsor, benefitted hugely through having stuck with him even when it appeared as though his career was over. I hear even buying a Nike hankie was difficult. They sold everything.  If I am honest I had also got to a point where I wasn’t sure if the roaring tiger would return to rule the golf jungle ever again. We had watched a limping Tiger for a while and sometimes not even finishing a round of golf. He even missed the cut to play up to the final day due to poor scores. That was painful to watch.

What sets Tiger woods apart from the rest? I have often asked myself. Is it because he is black? Maybe. Still there’s something more about this guy. There are other younger and very talented golfers but watching them play and win is still not as exciting as when Tiger does it. Watching them is like eating fresh food without salt. But watching Tiger is like eating Nyama choma with pilipili on the side with your favorite drink in hand. Perhaps it’s a nyeuthi thing. Standing in solidarity with our own especially after we sent our cousin Barrack to be their president. Hehe…

If I was to meet Tiger, I would ask him two questions. What kept him from hanging his golf clubs and walking away once and for all from them manicured lawns? Especially after his excruciatingly painful and seemingly endless physical and emotional injuries. Secondly I’d want to know what kept him mute from responding to the avalanche of attacks and criticisms. Apart from publicly apologizing for letting his family down, I’m not aware of a single counter attack directed at his critics. The court of public opinion is the harshest court in my view and Tiger was in the dock for a long time.

His silence has been so loud throughout his tribulations that I envy that trait in him. Since I’ve accepted that I can’t play golf like Tiger, I’d like to ape that internal strength he has. To keep it under my hat as life happens to me at whatever stage – the good, bad and ugly. If you watch him playing golf he has the ability to zone out the huge gallery of fans following him and just focus on his game. Now that’s a mind with a six pack right there. Well built.

To crown it all up I watched a clip where he’s in a room listening to recorded comments from people interviewed when he was battling his demons. They swore he will never return to golf. One guy said Tiger should just retire and stop embarrassing himself in public repeatedly. That’s harsh and so were the other comments. After viewing those clips he just smiled. It was that roho safi smile that confirms he’s not holding grudges, not the screen saver smile with clenched teeth dying to revenge.

Yet he now has the perfect opportunity to pay back his critics and show them the finger. But what has he done instead? Thanked his family and fans and says he’s happy to win. I think this is what the Bible refers to when it tells us to be kind to our enemies. In doing so we will be heaping red hot coals on their heads. Ignoring our critics is sometimes the best comeback we can have. Man I’d give my left toe to have that ability to go through hell with such silence focusing on recovery and winning again. So help me God.

Our true character and content is revealed by how we handle success and not failure. Tiger is back on top of the world now but enjoying the success quietly. I wonder if being in his 40s has contributed to that kind of maturity. I’m convinced that what has prevented him from another DUI caused by fame is the grit he has endured over the recovery years to get back on top. Folks, failure in life is just like a rela from shags. We can’t avoid them. Let’s take is as an opportunity to begin again when we encounter it. Only this time more wisely.

Winston Churchill said, “When you’re going through hell the only choice is to keep going.” That’s what Tiger has done and see how supu the other side of hell looks. I can’t wait to witness what Tiger surprises us with next. After what he’s been through, winning the masters has psyched him up to win more green jackets (tournaments). Unfortunately, many of us settle after a big win. I pray we now know better not to.

Mzee Winston sums it up well. ‘Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts.’ May we borrow from Tiger and endure the grit with courage so as to occupy our destiny. Let’s work hard in silence and let success make the noise.


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One thought on “Grit.”

  1. George Muya Nuthu says:

    Thanks for the inspiration Lucas!

    Determining if one’s journey through hell ends or lasts depends if s/he will settle down or keep moving ahead!

    Keep on writing,

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