"I keep begging myself to stop, and I keep playing, and this gap, this contradiction between what I want to do and what I actually do, feels like the core of my life."
- Andre Agassi, Open
I love learning from elite athletes. This one had been on my radar for a while. Open is regarded as the best autobiography of all time.
What you will find fascinating early on is that Andre Agassi hated tennis:
"I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion and always have."
Who knew you could climb to the top hating what you do?
Well in hindsight, it's probably quite common.
I'm sure many readers will connect with this Doing what we don't want to do.
The gap between what we believe and what we do is known as Cognitive Dissonance. A great example is smoking. We know that it's bad for us. We say just one more won't hurt. We do this for years.
You see it in the workplace. We say diversity is important, but then hire the same candidates we've always hired. "Lack of diverse talent" is one of the most common excuses.
I'm sure you have plenty more examples.
It's not that Cognitive Dissonance is bad. Perhaps it was the hate of tennis that made Andre Agassi great. The tension drove him forward rather than back.
But when does this cognitive dissonance become too much. In 1997 Andre Agassi almost went over the edge. He recalls the time he snorted crystal meth during a downturn in performance.
So what's the insight?
Start by increasing your awareness: How do my actions align to my beliefs? How do you feel about it? Ask people for feedback. Do my actions match my words?
If the feeling becomes too much start by setting implementation intentions. Use these to guide your behaviour in the direction of your beliefs.
Finally, was this the best autobiography I've ever read?
But as always, plenty of insights.
What is your favourite autobiography? I'd love to read it!