Open

Just finished Andre Agassi’s Open (abridged audio version I confess). I always enjoyed his tennis, but the biography was different. Entertaining and lots of interesting things, though at times he wasn’t the most admirable character. But biographies remain a treasure trove of lessons and this one had a few; off the top of my head here’s some I might draw:

1) The importance of practice and work. By the time he won his first major, he estimated he had hit over 20 million balls in practice. Granted, some of them were under duress from a sometimes overbearing father, but the point still stands.

2) Persistence: he almost quits early and several times his career drops off for various reasons, but persistence and hard work enable him to succeed.

3) How Christians look to¬†outsiders. He really didn’t like Michael Chang for the way he presented his faith (demonstrative thanks to God for winning). Though I’m not sure the criticism is fully fair in one sense, we need to think about how others will think about what we say and do.

4) The need for focus and discipline. Some of Agassi’s greatest failures were mental. Lack of focus at some times, descent into drugs for a time, failure to really train.

5) Experts aren’t always experts or helpful. His first tennis coach might be an example.

6) The importance of friends and a support system. This probably kept him sane and perhaps more.

7) Satisfaction found in helping others; even when he played a game he hated.

I’m sure there are others, but these are a few. I wish he was more consistently a better person, though I did sense some measure of growth. And I wish I could have got a better sense on his spiritual life. Shadowlands is his favorite movie and he hangs around with a pastor a lot (but one who claims not to have many answers, which potentially makes me nervous), but there seemed to be lots more room to grow there.

 

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