09/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Tiger Woods' Competitive Advantage

"When you're playing against Tiger there are three things going on:

1. You know he can beat you
2. He knows he can beat you
3. He knows that you know he can beat you
That's a competitive advantage!"

- as told by a PGA professional friend of mine

What gives Tiger his competitive advantage? His superior athleticism? Sure. His work ethic? Of course. His fierce determination? Absolutely.

Perhaps his greatest unforeseen advantage may not be a matter of his having a competitive edge, but rather how everyone else seems to lose theirs.

How do you lose your competitive edge?

When bad things happen and you blame, complain, whine or make excuses what does that do for your competition who at the same moment: a) "takes the hit;" b) feels the upset (even Tiger will bang a club into the ground); c) takes a deep breath and exhales; d) lets it go and puts it quickly behind them; d) recenters; e) refocuses; f) executes.

My favorite sports story of all time is one that I offer in my upcoming book, "Just Listen" Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone (AMACOM, Sept. 16, 2009). It is in "Chapter 3: Move Yourself from 'Oh F#@&' to 'OK'" and demonstrated to me the best example ever of not only keeping the wheels on after a bump, but becoming a "Turbo Porsche."

In 1997, playing in his second Masters golf tournament, Tiger had shot 40 on the opening nine holes of the tournament. At that moment, Tiger turned to his dad Earl and said something along the lines that he didn't know what was happening. Earl looked into his son's eyes and reflected back just how well prepared Tiger was for anything and said to him: "You've been here before, just do what you need to do."

Tiger went on to win the Masters by 12 strokes shooting 18 under par, two records that have never been equaled.

Tiger's competitive advantage is that when he hits a wall that would cause others to fall apart, he stops, reaches inside himself and discovers what all champions find. He discovers he has "heart" and in his case it is still held up and given to him by the loving, caring hands of his dad.

This phenomenon is not restricted to the world of sports. You see it in business and politics. Isn't that what we all saw as John McCain and Hillary both lost their competitive advantage when they hit a few walls and we saw their wheels come off?

What would happen to you if when you reached inside, you discovered the same thing that Tiger does? What would happen if when they hit a wall, you could be to your kids, your people at work, and your friends what Earl was to Tiger?

Imagine the possibilities.

Also please join me for my August 26, 9-10 AM PST, 12-1 PM EST, free American Management Association webcast, "The Simple Way to Get Through to Difficult People." There are now 2600 people registered for it and you can help me set a record.