09 May 2008|
When progress happens in politics, it happens slowly or not at all. Quick and dramatic changes in policy are mostly reserved for revolutions and sweeping regime changes. But if you want to change the world permanently for the better, you've got to start slowly. Which is why this institution has always promoted pragmatic change.
For real life examples on the importance of patience and systematic change look no further than to the worlds best known athlete, Tiger Woods.
After graduating from Stanford and relinquishing his amateur status, Mr. Woods found absolutely no difficulty in waxing his seasoned professional competition by two digits in his first few years on the PGA Tour. He was the fastest player in the history of the Tour to rise to #1 status, with an unprecedented four wins in his second PGA tour season. The Tiger Woods betting line was (and still is) routinely even money against the field in Vegas. He could do no wrong.
But underneath the surface Mr. Woods knew that his swing was putting too much pressure on his surgically-repaired left knee, and that his body would simply not take the punishment of another year of competitive play. So, shocking the entire golf community, Tiger fired his swing coach Butch Harmon and changed his famous swing. The result? No major wins in 2003 and 2004 and he lost his #1 status in the world to Vijay Singh. Oops. Many wondered, out-loud, how could the most successful athlete since Michael Jordan throw away his entire career?
Bewilderingly, Mr. Woods still felt confident he would regain his place among golfs elite. "Have I ever second-guessed it? No," Mr. Woods said in early ‘05. "I took some steps backward to go forward, to make some giant leaps forward."
In 2005, Tiger finally completed development of the swing he was struggling with for almost two years. A win at the Buick in January, followed by a dramatic playoff win against Phil Mickelson in March signified that the rest of the league will be playing for second place for a little while longer. A Masters playoff victory would follow in April, followed by a slew of other championships in that same year.
His victories have continued to pile up every year since his swing changes were finalized and he's never lost his status as the #1 golfer in the world since that chip.
Mr. Woods dedication to improvement is a constant reminder for us in the political arena to continue perfecting our craft and to never be afraid to change for the better (even if it means more pain in the short-term). Take, for instance, the much maligned concept of free trade. At first, people employed in industries that will be outsourced will lose their jobs. There's no getting around this. But after tree-trade is established the overall economy will be more dynamic and competitive in the long term. Afterall, Mr. Woods had to eliminate the bad habits of his old swing before he was able to lavish in the success of the new. Let's embrace change, and even the pain that comes with it, in order to forge a better America.