Foundation for the Study of Individualism

A Non-profit, Educational and Research Organization Since 1972 [formerly, “School of Communication”]

“Cogito ergo sum”—I think, therefore I am—Descartes, 1637

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Tiger's Titanic

By Gordon F. Brown

Tiger hit an iceberg. It happened during the best of times—when days were celebrated with partying followed by restful nights. As it was with the Captain of the Titanic, Tiger’s priorities changed abruptly.

Now, as captain of his own ship, this is a time of making critical decisions. While he can survive, his decisions will come with inescapable costs. As for those around him, including family, friends, and associates, some will prepare to abandon ship; some will offer unconditional or conditional support, and some will exploit the situation to their own advantage. Tiger has yet to write the final chapter to this episode and it may not end as did the Titanic.

From a relative perspective, Tiger’s current situation can be seen as another step, albeit a critical one, down the path of maturity. Most of us have hit an iceberg—we have experienced those life-defining moments that put our life into a spin and forever changed our course.

The status of celebrities, whether heads of State or iconic figures of public admiration, intensifies and complicates the dynamics of their collision-type experiences. While they can be seen to have unique challenges, they can also be seen to have unique opportunities to contribute to the public benefit.

As for general perspectives, the relative perspective (as the term is used here) has a focus on the learning opportunities that typically accompany personal disruptions. The greater the assault, there is certainly greater risk of damage, but there is also the greater opportunity for significant advances in one’s level of maturity.

In contrast, the absolute perspective (as the term is used here) places the focus on accepting blame and seeking forgiveness. The individual abandons his/her role as captain of his/her own ship and pleads to the court for mercy and pledges subordination to its ruling. The consequence (relatively speaking) of the absolute approach is the death of the individual with only an empty shell remaining.

Also, we have the approach of mixing the two perspectives. Here the focus is forgiveness and even forgetting of the circumstances and immediate effects of the collision. The goal is to reestablish a sense of the previous good times. The consequences of this approach (relatively speaking) may be to provide a drug-like relief for the short term. Long term, this “head in the sand” approach may be the most damaging.

Tiger’s collision can serve to assist each of us to identify our own perspective on life. We can see Tiger’s collision as a disaster or we can see it as an opportunity for greater maturity—his as well as our own.

For Tiger, there is the opportunity for him to reassess his life’s priorities and reorganize his behavior accordingly. He has done this many times with his golf game. Now, the stakes are significantly higher. Curiously, this point of Tiger’s reassessing his priorities as the next maturational step was predicted in our 2002 newsletter, Relatively Speaking (posted on this site as 37 ).

For all of us, Tiger’s experience can be instructive. Do we ignore (mixed), subordinate (absolute), or stay in command (relative) using all of the tools and resources available to us? We can gain a renewed sense of what it means to be the captain of our ship and to be more prepared for our own collision which may be just around the next corner.