Words to Live By

I finished reading Andre Agassi’s book “Open” today.  Not that I am looking to get something out of every book I read, but these two stuck out for me and I hope to use them in my daily life in some way.  The first is his thoughts on people changing.  When he retired or was close to retirement, many things were written as to how he changed from when he was younger to when it was time for him to retire.  This is what he wrote:

Also, several sports writers muse about my transformation, and that word rankles. I think it misses the mark.  Transformation is change from one thing to another, but I started as nothing.  I didn’t transform, I formed.  When I broke into tennis I was like most kids: I didn’t know who I was, and I rebelled at being told by older people.  I think most people make this mistake all the time with younger people, treating them as finished products when in fact they’re in a process.

I think this is very important to remember when dealing with kids.  As they get older we wish they were more grown up or we treat them as if they were adults.  This part of his book puts it so succinctly.  They are learning how to be grown up and rather than judge them we must teach them.  This is much different from 100 years ago.  Kids didn’t have a chance to think about being a teenager.  They had to be adults and didn’t have as much of an opportunity to change.  I will try to use this when dealing with my own kids and the high school kids I coach.

The next thing is a code he has created for the Andre Agassi College Preparatory School, a charter school in Las Vegas that he helped build and continues to fund.  It is the Code of Respect which is recited each day.  It goes:

The essence of good discipline is respect.  Respect for authority and respect for others.  Respect for self and respect for rules.  It is an attitude that begins at the home, is reinforced at school, and is applied throughout life.

What I love about this code is that no where in it is that someone should expect respect from someone else.  Respect is something that is given and not expected.  Too many kids and adults complain that I haven’t gotten respect from this person or that person.  But that misses the point.  I think this code teaches it perfectly.

The book was okay.  Not what I expected.

1 thought on “Words to Live By

  1. Alan Sexton

    Ah, the respect dilemma.

    Growing up, my dad imparted on me the wisdom that respect is something that is earned, not given. I have taught this to my kids and will live my entire life according to this rule.


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