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Leadership Lessons from Mother Teresa and Tiger Woods

Tim Selgo

Tim Selgo

Assistant Vice President of Consulting

The lives of Mother Teresa and Tiger Woods have something in common that teaches a crucial lesson. 

The founder of Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, and one of the best golfers of all time lived out of balance.  

There’s no question Mother Teresa was one of the most unselfish people in history. She devoted her life to helping the poor living in horrible conditions. She didn’t do it for fame or notoriety, although she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. 


Similarly, Earl Woods trained Tiger to be the best golfer in the world starting at age two. Tiger became the king of golf before his personal life unraveled in 2009.  

Later, Tiger said his life was out of balance and his priorities were out of order. 

“Slowly I’m regaining the balance that I’d lost. The healing process is far from complete, but I am beginning to appreciate things I had overlooked before. I’m learning that some victories can mean smiles, not trophies, and that life’s most ordinary events can bring joy.” 
The lesson here is if your life is going to be out of balance, make sure it is out of balance for the good things such as the example of Mother Teresa’s unselfish service to others.  Work to achieve better balance at every opportunity. 


Don't Throw Out Your Balance 
Your job demands constant attention to detail, quick decision-making, and effective communication. Often you find yourself in ongoing cycles of high-pressure situations. Long work hours and high expectations can take an emotional toll.  

I’ve been there.  

Much like farming, athletics is a way of life. That’s why it’s important to be intentional with your time and priorities so it doesn’t end up ruining your life.  

Smart Time Management 

Prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. If everything is important, nothing is important. Establish clear boundaries for work hours and adhere to them. You not only have limited time, but you also have limited energy. Prioritize putting both toward what you value. 

Once a year, I recommend taking two weeks of vacation in a row. Use the first week to decompress and the second week to recharge. You need it since you spend every day solving problems and making decisions. Ask your staff not to email you while on vacation. If there’s an emergency such as a personnel issue, they should call.  
My wife Terry and I think the two best words of the technological age are “No Service,” so we try to escape to places without cell service.  

Take Responsibilities Off Your Plate  


Develop a strong team and empower them to take on new responsibilities. Trusting others with tasks can make your shoulders feel immediately lighter. Master the art of delegation. 


Use technology for all its worth. It can make your communication and task management more efficient and streamline administrative processes to save time and reduce stress. 


Ask fellow colleagues how they deal with challenges and incorporate the best stuff as your own.  


Practice Your Priorities Every Day  


Know your values and live them daily through intentional practice. Here are components I include in a typical week to prevent work from taking over.  


• Devotional time reading non-sports books

Start your day with a minimum of 10 minutes of quiet time with no screens to get centered for the upcoming day before your world gets noisy. 
Value: Faith and growth 

• Jogging/Walking  
I do my best thinking while walking  
Value: Self-reflection and physical activity  

• Bowling 
Value: Fun and relaxation  

• Spend quality time with your family.  
Value: Family life 


Each day you're going in one direction or another; but you should be the one steering. Otherwise, it’s too easy to let one thing steer to the detriment of everything else. Build your years by building your days with intentionality.  


Tim Selgo’s career in collegiate athletics spans over 40 years. Currently serving as the Mammoth Assistant Vice President for Consulting, prior roles include Athletics Director at Grand Valley State University, and Associate Athletic Director at the University of Toledo. 

In addition to his administrative roles, Selgo is an author. He wrote "Anchor Up," "Competitive Greatness the Grand Valley Way," "Make One Play," and "Moms and Dads Eat the Brown Bananas,” which is about achieving a work-life balance. 

A recognized authority in leadership development, Selgo goes beyond conventional roles, providing custom programming specifically tailored for athletic departments built on his wealth of experience and commitment to excellence.  


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