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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

The Tao of Bubba Watson

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David J. Phillip/AP

With a seemingly impossible shot off the pine straw, Bubba Watson set himself up to win the Masters on Sunday. After he sank the winning putt in a playoff, he stood on the green, hugged his caddy, hugged his mom and wept and wept. As has been widely reported, Watson and his wife just adopted a baby boy a few weeks before the Masters started. He’s had quite a run in 2012. As The Washington Post noted, he even bought a copy of the General Lee from his favorite TV show, “The Dukes of Hazzard,” back in January. It was the culmination of a deal he had made with his wife after winning his first tournament.

Bubba seems like a guy who enjoys and savors life. He’s a stark contrast with Tiger Woods, who as he berates himself and is kicking clubs around the course, doesn’t appear to be having much fun. What accounts for the difference in these two guys? I think an answer can be found in Watson’s post-victory press conference. It offers food for thought for leaders or anyone else who think the answer to life’s challenges is to keep grinding and grinding.

When asked how he felt about just winning the Masters, Watson said he was happy, of course, but went on to say this: “The thing is, golf is not my everything. I’m not going to go home if I would have lost today, I’m not going to go home and pout. I’m going to think about the great times I had, the chance I had to win; I won, I get to go home and think about that. But tomorrow, there’s going to be a new tournament and y’all are going to write about other people. Y’all are going to forget about me tomorrow, you know what I’m saying. I’m going to have to keep living my life and do everything.”

That sounds like the philosophy of a guy who has figured out that there’s more than life to work. There’s as much joy to be had in a new baby or driving a hot rod as there is in winning a major. It’s all about perspective. It’s the kind of perspective that’s reflected in Bubba’s on course mantra, “If I’ve got a swing, I’ve got a shot.” The Tao, or way, of Bubba Watson is to take your best shot but not get too attached to a particular outcome.

As for Tiger, I think former pro golfer and current analyst, David Feherty offered an interesting take in an interview with Dan Patrick this week. His belief is that Woods is suffering from the “classic addict’s malaise — confusing fun with happiness.” Feherty is extremely open about the fact that he himself is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. He knows something about addiction.

Work is fun when you win. But, as Feherty says, fun is not the same thing as happiness. No one wins all the time. If winning is the only thing that matters, what are you left with when you don’t? The question that Bubba Watson seems to have answered is “What do you have in your life that makes you happy when you don’t win?”

It’s a good question for pro golfers and a good question for leaders. What is it for you?

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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