The Power of the Unreasonable Challenge

Several decades ago, Sandy Tatum crafted the words that define golf’s U.S. Open. After the first round at Tatum’s home course of Winged Foot, the host of the 1974 championship, no player was under par. The course was so hard it was giving the players fits. The best player in the field, Jack Nicklaus, rolled his first putt that day right off the green.

Tatum, who was responsible for the course setup, knew golfers and fans alike were in a rage over how difficult the course was set up to play. A former NCAA Golf Champion, Tatum defended his view of why the US Open setup needs to be exceedingly difficult: “We’re not trying to humiliate the best players in the world,” he said. “We’re trying to identify them.”

Some challenges seem unreasonable when we lose sight of the idea that they showcase who is best prepared and ready to compete. True talent looks forward to challenge and relishes the opportunity to compete.

Knowing this, the best leaders provide such tests to accentuate the skills necessary for success. Colleagues and players benefit when they can identify what actions and strategies stand out to overcome a tough challenge. Once everyone has a clear view of the mountain to climb and what it takes to get there, performance rises and people achieve their full potential.

Challenge elevates performance in a way nothing else can.