Episode 59 – Finding your purpose with Scott Draper

Australian Open winner shares his experiences with overcoming life’s obstacles.

Listen to Scott's story below:

Australians know Scott Draper as one of the country’s best professional athletes excelling at both tennis and golf.

But behind Scott’s legendary battles on the court and golf green was a man battling with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and caring for his late wife Kellie Grieg during her fight with cystic fibrosis.

“I still find it very hard to believe, as I see myself as a sane and rational person, but I had lost the plot,” Scott said.

“It got to the point where it would take me four hours just to go to bed at night as I had to make sure everything was perfect before I could shut off.

“I would go around the room straightening things, touching things three times and by multiples of three, all the while not moving them because if they moved, I would have to start the process all over again.”

Scott was able to overcome his OCD and quickly moved up the world tennis singles rankings where he reached a peak of 42 in 1998.

Tragically, as Scott’s tennis career reached its peak, his wife Kellie lost her fight with cystic fibrosis.

“I was 25 when she passed, and she was 23. I should have had the world at my feet, but I was just stuck,” Scott said.

“When I lost Kellie, I spent two years in the wilderness as I felt completely lost.

“Grief is a very personal thing and it’s different for everyone. I didn’t suffer some of the things you might classify in the grief cycle. 

“I was never angry, but I struggled with identity, grasping who I was and coming to terms with navigating this thing called life.”

Scott said it was Kellie’s passing that made him fall in love with the game of golf.

“When Kellie passed away, golf became my therapy. I would get out on the golf course for five hours hitting balls with mates,” Scott said.

“I would lose track of time, what’s going on and focus on golf. It was in the quiet moments when I struggled.

“In that period, I went from a handicap of four playing a few times throughout the year to plus two in six months.”

Scott would go on to become a professional golfer and reignite his love for tennis which culminated in a mixed doubles title with Samantha Stosur at the Australian Open in 2005.

In his personal life, Scott found love again with his current wife Jessica and their three children and transitioned to a career in leadership and organisational development consultancy.

“I have now transitioned away from sport and have been consulting to help executives to find their purpose,” he said.

“Purpose can help you to prioritise things in your life, such as how much time to spend at work and how much time to spend at home or with family.

“If you look at sports stars like Tiger Woods and Novak Djokovic both could no longer perform when their personal life was in disarray.

“We can’t expect to rock up at our workplace when all this stuff is going on around us and be at our best. Finding your purpose is one way to help you do that.

“When I lost Kellie, I learnt life was not a dress rehearsal, and you need to have a crack, and live with some conviction as you may not be here tomorrow.”

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