By Robert Bicknell

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April 29, 2007

Every parent is a hero to their children, or should beÖ

Winning and losing are conditions that we face everyday, not just on the golf course and while some people strive to "win at any cost, they eventually discover that the cost was far too high. On the other hand, people who play by the rules and achieve their goals through hard work and perseverance usually find that the taste of victory is sweeter than imagined.

The problem with "victory" is that it means so many different things to so many different people.

While the most commonplace definition is generally believed to imply a victory against overwhelming odds, it can also be defined by those little victories which weíve all had, even though we really didnít recognise them as such at the time.

While we all agree that winning a tournament or an award is a victory, successfully quitting smoking is also a major victory and is something to be celebrated. Breaking par or recording your first birdie is a victory. Achieving a personal best round score is a victory, as is recording a low amount of putts or getting passing a maths test.

Heroic efforts are another important case in point and it isnít always the million-to-one shot which makes it heroic. Blasting a three-iron out of the trees and around the dog-leg onto the green one yard from the flag might be a heroic shot Ė if it works, but will most likely be forgotten within a few holes, especially if the player posts a double bogey on the next hole.

Closing a multi-million dollar business deal will make you a hero to your company, but a poor man who succeeds in putting food on the table for his family every day is equally a hero, perhaps more so as the odds are vastly against him and he has to do it every day, rain or shine, whereas the businessman can enjoy his victory for a week or two.

Anyone who watched "The Pursuit of Happyness" with Will Smith can attest that itís a movie which cuts a little too close to the bone for most parents. Yet, it was a stunning victory and leaves you thinking "There but for the grace of G-d go I."

There are many instances where people have achieved a major victory, yet failed to follow up on it. Learning from your losses and building on your successes is what gets you to the next level and allows you to develop as a person as well as a player.

I crucified Phil Mickelson when he made the idiotic statement "I know I can win a lot of majors, but itís the first one which is difficult" or words to that effect. I blasted him not because its true, but because of the way he said it. Too much ego was involved.

Mickelson is correct in that getting the first one is the hardest because itís an 800-pound monkey on your back. The first win relieves a lot of pressure and self-doubt about your abilities, but at the same time getting one win doesnít necessarily mean you will achieve more. More than a few professional golfers were one-trick ponies. They won a major tournament, then disappeared from sight.

Another problem with a victory is if it comes unexpectedly to a young player who "isnít supposed to win at such an early age." Conventional wisdom says that major tournament winners have to go through years of mental conditioning to be able to withstand the pressures on the back nine on Sunday, yet it happens from time to time anyway. Unfortunately, when the player doesnít follow up immediately, he usually goes through a long spell of self-doubt and must regain his confidence slowly over time.

So, as you can plainly see, a victory can cut both ways.

Iíve found that the best way to handle both victory and defeat is to learn something from it and, most importantly, to keep things in perspective.

Win or lose, you still have to support your family and go to work everyday. With the way the world is today, just doing that successfully is a victory.

When they look back, twenty years from now, your kids will think so too.

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