As a general rule, I try to stay away from using sports stories in my speeches and classroom work. And you won't see a lot of sports talk on this blog. However, I found Tom Watson's performance at the British Open an inspiring example of excellence and ... a reminder to us baby boomers that we can still compete at the highest levels.
Tom isn't as long off the tee as his young opponents. The fescue roughs were probably a bit more troublesome for his 59-year-old body than for the 20-somethings he played along with. His experience, will, and unflappable persistence kept him in front until the very last putt of the scheduled seventy-two holes. Although he lost the playoff to Stewart Cink, Tom's performance was indeed inspiring.
As a member of that demographic, I think about baby boomers in business quite a bit these days. While many of us may have thought about retiring in the near future, it seems to me there is a bit of work to do before we pass the baton. Just like Tom Watson and golf, the game of business has changed for us baby boomers. We came to leadership positions when making things and selling things was the name of the game. Increasingly, we don't make things here in the USA anymore. Knowledge work and exotic financial instruments seem to be the product these days. Our parents left us a fairly robust economy with employment opportunities for everyone who applied themselves. As I write this, my state, Michigan, has a 15.2%(!) unemployment rate. The taxpayers own our largest manufacturer, GM. Self-interest, some would call it greed, still seems to get in the way of the collective effort we need to get out of this mess.
I really hope Tom Watson inspired other baby boomers as well. This is the time we must use our experience, our will, and some unflappable persistence to turn this thing around and get one more win before the end of our careers. Our experience should help us remember it was hard work, real labor, that sustained the economy. Our will should be strengthened by a determination to leave a better economy for our children. And our persistence should help us remember we win this thing shot by shot, never wavering, playing the conditions dealt us, and knowing that we can still win this thing. Tom Watson didn't show up in Scotland to be a ceremonial icon ... he went to win! Thanks Tom! And damn it, I really wished that putt had fallen!