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Transcript: Andre Agassi: Pushing yourself to perfection

Andre Agassi returns the ball to Pete Sampras during a friendly exhibition at the Venetian Hotel in Macau Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009.

Vincent Yu

KARL MOORE – This is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, with Talking Management for The Globe and Mail. Today I am delighted to be at C2 Montreal, sitting down with Andre Agassi to talk about purpose and passion.

When did you find your passion?

ANDRE AGASSI – I don't know if I found it or if it found me. There was the feeling of disconnect in my own journey to be great at something, as the world recognized it but not feel inspired, but it was a real disconnect that I had to reconcile. The only way I could reconcile it was by taking children in the same similar upbringing that I had, in the sense of no choice in their life based on their circumstances, and creating that vehicle for them to have that ownership and choice and that was the education route. Then doing that for them I think empowered me to be inspired on a daily basis and to find reason, and to get out of my own way.

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KARL MOORE – You kept practicing when the rest of us would give up. What drove you to keep practicing beyond a reasonable amount of hours with tennis?

ANDRE AGASSI – Most of my life it was just fear – fear of what the hell else am I going to do? I think fear can be one hell of a motivator, I think some can get pretty fatigued and overwhelmed by it and quite honestly resentful of it. So, I think at the right time in my life it shifted from fear to purpose, and that purpose happened when I started to focus on the educational component, but it also was a fundamental fabric of my sport.

It is a interesting sport one-on-one, so you have to figure out a way to make yourself better when there is no barometer on how everybody you are going to be measured against is making themselves better. So, it almost forces you into this form of perfectionism – it is never good enough – and you always have to do more.

There is a bit of a fear component to that because you don't want to get on the court and realize that your homework wasn't done. So you are living all these hypotheticals and you are only dealing with hypotheticals as you drink that extra six litres of water, as you force yourself to shove food in to recover, as you are in the gym, about to throw up. Those are the moments you go, "Well, jeez, I'd rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it."

Karl Moore (@profkjmoore) is an associate professor at the Destautels Faculty of Management at McGill University.

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