I used to be a shy and introvert guy who did not say much, especially not in groups. Nowadays, I’m actually told that I sometimes even talk too much! I have begun to understand that sharing the experiences that I have had – both mistakes and successes – can give something to both myself and others. I have also found myself becoming much more curious about what others have to say – a big change from the past.
Below are a few moments and situations that were important to me in one way or another. Perhaps you might find this of interest for your own life.
Michael Jordan - a Meeting of Equality
It was the middle of the Ryder Cup at Valhalla, USA in 2008 and basketball legend Michael Jordan was at the tournament. I had the afternoon off and was on my way out to support my teammates. I was going up a flight of stairs between a green and the tee when I saw him sitting further up on the stairs. I remember I felt an old feeling of uncertainty, filled with admiration for this legend. I realized I was in a new situation – ”I” was part of the Ryder Cup Team and ”HE”, Michael Jordan was there to watch.
I thought to myself, if it had been a few years ago, I would have turned around and chosen another way. I realized that I had placed a value scale between us, where he was a superior athlete and I was a lesser athlete. It was a left-over feeling of fear of authority, a fear that I have become aware of and really worked to get rid of, since it has hindered me in the past, both on and off the golf course.
This time, I chose to challenge myself and walked up those stairs. Before I reached his flight of stairs, Michael Jordan stood up, his eyes met mine and he came forward to meet me. I could see my hand disappear into his huge hand for a warm handshake. We exchanged a few words. It felt perfectly natural and equitable. It was a short, awesome meeting that made me realize that I had grown. It would certainly not have felt that way if I had not dealt with my fear of authority and feelings of inferiority before we met.
Swedish Sports Gala - a challenge
Just before Christmas 2008, I received an invitation to the Sports Gala. I had been nominated as ”Male Athlete of the Year” and was also nominated to receive the prestigious Peoples Choice, Jerring prize, thanks to my performance during the year. Flattering and fantastic, but also a great challenge, because if I won I would have to give a speech to more than five thousand people on site and millions of viewers on National TV.
Earlier in life this scenario terrified me so much that it actually prevented me from winning tournaments. In recent years, I have been working consciously on challenging my fears. Speaking in front of people was definitely one of my biggest ones. I prepared myself well and wondered what I would say if I got the prize. My coach and I brainstormed together about what to say, if I won and was to give the speech. She came with the idea to put myself in the spectators shoes - what would I want to hear? Then I realized that I wanted it to be something more than just personal thank yous.
Prima ballerina Anneli Alhanko stood before the audience and announced that I had won “Male Athlete of the Year”! I do not remember much of how I got to the stage. I hardly know what happened up there, when I gave my speech. But I know I did it. What an incredible feeling! I received a lot of appreciation for the content of the speech afterwards which was great fun! Overcoming this fear was almost worth more to me than the actual prize because I know how much I had to challenge myself to go to this Gala and dare to stand there and speak to all those people.