The Claret Jug is his. He just won The Open Championship by completing a stunning five under par fourth round. It is already being called a performance for the ages. For that he won $2.1 million (61% of which will go to taxes between Great Britain, the U.S. and California – but that is a topic for another time). He has now won five of golf’s major championships. He has now won a total of forty-two times as a professional golfer.
He is one of the most popular golfers in the world. He has a beautiful family (wife Amy; children Evan, Amanda & Sophia). His sponsors (Callaway Golf, KPMG and Barclays) pay him handsomely. He has his own jet. The ‘he’ is Phil Mickelson – 43 year old professional golfer.
So, all of this success and money and fandom must be why he is seemingly always smiling and selected as this week’s Friday’s Fearless Brand – right? Well….NO.
It is my contention that he has achieved all of this as the RESULT of being a fearless brand. I am also certain that Phil doesn’t think of himself as a brand much less as fearless. So what makes this ‘brand’ fearless?
Phil has an amazing clarity as to who he is and what his definition of success is. Make no mistake, Phil wants to win every tournament and be the greatest golfer in the sport. However, that’s not his primary focus. His family is the absolute first priority in his life. He is committed to doing his best to manage ‘the process’ and then accepting the results.
He has not only handled all of his success with class and humility but he has handled life’s adversities in the same way…and yes, he’s had his share.
In 1999 Mickelson wore a pager as he played in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Why? Because Amy was pregnant and due any day. Without a second thought and without question he would immediately walk off the course and head home to be there with his family had that pager gone off. It didn’t…and Phil lost by one stroke to Payne Stewart. What did he do? Congratulated Stewart, addressed the media then headed home to welcome his first child.
For years professionally he had the label of ‘best golfer to never win a major’. He took that in stride. He was labeled a ‘choker’ when it came to medium length putts. His tenacity was questioned because of his ever present smile and calm demeanor amidst disappointment. He has won majors. He did not miss one remotely makeable putt on his final round at Muirfield. His tenacity showed as he came back from five strokes behind at the start of round four.
His personal challenges – like his personal life in general – have been out of the limelight for the most part. His wife’s battle with cancer and his daughter’s health scare have been well documented and I won’t go deeper into those. The point is this, Phil has had his share of life’s challenges to go along with his success and he has handled them with equal grace and acceptance.
Phil Mickelson is a fearless brand not because of his success. He is a fearless brand because of his clarity and conviction about his life and his priorities. He has fully embraced his dreams and success as he defines it. That is why he is this Friday’s Fearless Brand.
He is now the reigning Open Champion but still carries the distinction of having never won the U.S. Open. He has finished second an unrivaled six times. Is he discouraged, bitter or down? Not that anyone can see. He is certainly disappointed but he also knows that he will continue to compete – fiercely and tenaciously. He will continue to manage ‘the process’ and he will continue to accept the results. My money says he will have U.S. Open champion on his resume before his career is over.