OK, we’ve had two sport articles and I hope you reread both and reflected on them as it relates to you and your game.
The article I want you to reread is the one about Agassi. Whatever you think of him, the comeback is inspiring.
To recap, in 1997, Andre Agassi had slipped from world number 1 to 141 the lowest he had been in ten years of tennis. At some point, Agassi decided to go back to the C minor leagues of tennis and play two junior Challenger tournaments. This must have been very humiliating for Agassi especially when he lost one! You can imagine it. Some 17 year old beat him in straight sets.
But Agassi must have decided to put up with the pain and embarrassment of losing in a Challenger because he rekindled his desire to be ranked in the top 25 again.
Agassi then went to Adelaide, Australia where he was beaten on centre court by 15 year old new comer, Leyton Hewitt.
Immediately after the game both Hewitt and Agassi front for the media conference. A packed media conference wanted to know why Andre was even competing. In their minds … he is past tournament level.
Even being asked the question is embarrassing. You and I will probably never face this level of public scrutiny about our hopes, dreams and ambitions. And our performance. Nor will we most of us ever be scrutinised so ruthlessly, “So Andre, are you past it or what?’
But Agassi quietly assured them he wanted to regain his ranking. If you look at the video footage you can see the palpable disbelief in some of the journalists. Some snigger.
Agassi then went to Sydney, Australia and lost. Then New York and lost. Then Las Vegas where he won and regained his ranking. By April 1998 he was back in the top 25 players in the world.
So what happened?
Agassi’s comeback is something you can learn a lot from.
Firstly, we said that his improved play really began once he decided he wanted to prove to himself that he still had what it takes to beat the best players in the world. Actually, he was proving it to himself.
He then connected it in a very powerful way to getting his game back into high gear. That connection is key.
And that’s when the hard work and determination kicked in. Success takes hard work often.
Remember Jane. It wasn’t easy to say ‘No’ to her staff. It was a real comfort zone push. Agassi had to pound the pavement – physically – but Jane had to pound the pavement – emotionally. Her brain is screaming out, ’No!”. She is fighting years and years of giving in to people. But she saw the ideal and … that’s when the hard work kicked in. She had to keep seeing the ideal and she had to keep pushing on that comfort zone.
Like Agassi, Jane had chatter.
Agassi trained harder, sorted out his diet and cut his weight down from 183 pounds to a lean 165. He pounded Las Vegas’ gruelling hills in unrelenting desert heat.
I really admire Agassi’ because he is a realist.
He is not saying that it was easy just because he decided he wanted something. He is saying it took hard work and commitment. He had to build a bridge over losses and obstacles. He had to push through endless physical and emotional comfort zones.
He KNEW what he wanted. He set goals a lot broader than winning just one game or tournament.
I don’t know if Agassi experienced chatter – but it’s a safe bet that he did. His chatter was about clawing his way back or about fading away with unrealised dreams. He knew it would be difficult. Pete Sampras – you have to remember – was one of Agassi’s high profiled combatants. Sampras was taller and faster and all over the court. And he was there to beat Agassi.
Agassi had to work on a powerful backline game because Sampras would try and work the net and volley game. In 2000, Agassi had won all four Grand Slams and was the ranking world number one. When he retired in 2007 he was still in the top 25.
OK, YOUR TURN
What can you learn from Agassi? This is not about Agassi; this is about you. What are your dreams? What is your urgent need? What are your goals? Are you factoring hard work, determination and set backs? Losses and obstacles? You may or may not win. That’s not the point. It’s leaning into the challenge.
Andrew Priestley is a qualified business leadership coach with clients worldwide. He is the author of The Money Chimp, Starting and How Money Flows Through Your Business. You can contact him through www.andrewpriestley.com
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