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Bobby Jones on the meaning of success

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Sports legend Bobby Jones excelled at two things: He was a whiz with people— even his feistiest rivals loved him —and he played stunningly good golf.

Having already dominated the sport for years, Jones made up his mind in 1930 to do what no other person had ever done … or has done since: Win all four major tournaments—the British Amateur, the British Open, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur—in the same year.

Then, he figured, he’d quit, set up for life.

Throughout the 1930 season, Jones played almost flawless golf. By June, except for one slip of the grip in Savannah, he’d won every tournament he played that year. By season’s end, he’d won his Grand Slam.

Jones retired from golf at the top of his game and signed a deal with Warner Brothers to make golf instruction films at a starter price of about $18 million in today’s dollars.

Yet, for all that, Jones suffered through that year under the pressure of expectations—his fans’ and his own—plus alcohol, insomnia and two packs of cigarettes a day.

Even sadder, Jones said more than once that he regretted being famous merely for his proficiency in a sport, instead of some great achievement in a more “thoughtful” line of work.

Lesson: If you’ve worked hard and become a leader in any worthy profession, give yourself some credit. The world needs its Bobby Joneses— and leaders in every walk of life—just as much as it needs healers and spiritual leaders.

— Adapted from The Slam: Bobby Jones and the Price of Glory, Curt Sampson.

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