Andre Agassi on Radical Honesty and Success

I’ve written about Andre Agassi because of the radical honesty he displayed in his autobiography: OpenThe foremost example of his commitment to the truth is a recounting of his brief stint with crystal meth. Until the book was published there were a handful of people who knew about it. Agassi could have kept this incident secret and he still would have had a fantastic book. But he included the story of himself at his lowest and that took real guts.

Agassi voluntarily admitted his drug usage, knowing well the controversy it would cause

I love this example because honesty is something I strive towards. At every moment I seek to act and speak in a way which is in accordance with the truth. I’ve got a long, long way to go but this is the ideal. It’s amazing to see Agassi, a man with so much to lose, willing to expose himself to so much criticism in the name of honesty.

The Drive of a Winner

When you read the book you learn about a man who is driven to succeed. Agassi repeatedly states “I hate tennis” and people assume that he’s joking. He’s not, there is no passion for the game. But tennis is his best talent and he’s handcuffed to it. Without tennis Agassi would have no purpose, in every other area of life he admits to being average at best. And so he practices ferociously. He loses key tournaments and is harder on himself than the critics are. Even though he loathes the game he’s determined to excel at it. His attitude is similar to that of Muhammad Ali,

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’

Agassi repeatedly demonstrates that anything worth having is worth sweating for. In every activity, no matter the level of passion, there will be things you don’t like doing. This is natural. Agassi leads by example as he overcomes numerous obstacles in order to achieve his dreams.

Agassi After Tennis

Agassi with some of the children from his foundation

Agassi’s account of his final game of tennis is powerful. He plays like a young man trying to prove himself, as if the match will determine his entire tennis career. After it’s finished he lays in the locker room, incapacitated, in awe of the effort he gave on the court.

Having proven himself to the world, Agassi could have easily retired with his millions of dollars and awesome wife. Instead, he opened the Andre Agassi Foundation for EducationThe foundation is responsible for a beautiful charter school in Las Vegas and positive educational change around the country. That it’s raised over $180 million dollars speaks to its massive success.

Like everyone, Agassi is human. He had a tough childhood, he sunk low enough that he considered meth to be a viable option and then he blatantly lied after failing a drug test. However, in time Agassi grew and developed the courage to open himself to the world. This was a bold move and I have tremendous respect for him. Pick up a copy of Open or even better, get the audio book. It’s long but I found myself wishing it was even longer, it’s that good.

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