What Happens When You Let Others Choose For You


What Happens When You Let Others Choose For You

Andre Agassi, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, had his whole life planned for him before he could walk or speak.

He was groomed to become great and it was decided for him before he was born.

“No one ever asked me if I wanted to play tennis, let alone make it my life,” said Agassi in his gripping autobiography, Open.

Become great was exactly what he did. His father pushed him, forced him, to become the best.

Whether or not he wanted to, he hit 2,500 tennis balls per day, 17,500 per week, nearly one million shots per year.

And as Agassi moved up in the rankings, his father’s goal was becoming more attainable.

Experts and fans began talking about Agassi’s approach towards the coveted peak of the mountain, predicting he will topple Pete Sampras, who was number one at the time, and claim the position himself.

Agassi recalls, “I make it my goal to be number one, because my team wants it.”

So he trains harder and harder. Gets closer.

Agassi finally gets a call from a good friend announcing he’s done it. Andre Agassi is officially the number one player in the world.

There’s something wrong, though. Instead of the ecstatic enthusiasm and sheer happiness he was expecting, he feels something far darker. Nothing.

Roaming the streets alone, he asks himself, “If being number one feels empty, unsatisfying, what’s the point?”

It wasn’t long until he realized that this victory felt empty because becoming number one wasn’t the goal he set for himself. It was something everyone else wanted for him.

It was why his father hung tennis balls above his crib while Agassi was still a baby. It was what his friends and loved ones cheered him on for and expected him to want.

And here he was, best in the world, feeling absolutely nothing after just reaching the peak of tennis achievement.

So what does it take to feel and be fulfilled?

You have to choose for yourself. You need goals set by no one other than yourself.

Becoming the best in anything won’t make you happy if that isn’t what you wanted in the first place.

What drives you every day, your goals included, need substance. You have to feel like you’ve chosen your own path.

Anything short of absolute freedom and autonomy will feel stale.

So choose for yourself.

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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10 responses to What Happens When You Let Others Choose For You

  1. Yes, choosing one’s path, ensures you get on the right one. An interesting case study with Andre, although after his break and demon-exorcising he came back to tennis for the right reasons.

    And was even greater than ever, which indicates it’s never too late to get your head in order.

  2. I was so damaged by teachers, that by the time I left school I had no idea I could do anything right. They have a lot to answer for, and I’d love to meet them now. I think there are very few of us that attain our own dream, so many circumstances in our lives work against us. I can understand how people must feel when they live out their parents
    dreams but I can’t help feeling as I do, that any achievement to me would have felt like heaven.

    • Hey Ouida, what exactly happened between you and your teachers?

      • I usually got two reactions from teachers, I was either ignored or ridiculed. I was a very sensitive and nervous child and if I was picked on or singled out my mind used to just go blank. I was stood up in front of the class and the children were told to laugh at me because I couldn’t spell who. It was just constant put downs and a lowering of my self-esteem. My mother used to walk me to school and I would cry at the gate because I was frightened to go in for fear of what they would do. Then they would have me stand up in front of the class and make fun of me for crying and being walked to school by my mum. I was probably about 7. It may not have affected another child of a different nature as much but it was just a nightmare to me.
        The after affect has just gone on through my life, I’ve never felt I could even attempt to be anything or achieve. It’s affected my relationships, friendships, and the whole course of my life.

        • That sort of experience most definitely would’ve affected the vast majority of kids in that age range.

          The difference then compared to now is you’re your own person now. You have the freedom to make positive changes in your life and prove those people who doubted you wrong. Shouldn’t you prove them wrong?

  3. Great story and perspective, Vincent. I’ve often thought about how I would push my future kids to greatness in a healthy and constructive way. But, at the end of the day, they will be far happier if I support them in what they want to do, not what I want them to do.

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  1. Actionable Reading - Self Stairway - September 21, 2015

    […] I finished Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open, I not only felt inspired to write an article but I went out and played tennis for the first time in nearly two years (I’m now determined to […]

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