Can You Hate What You Do and Still Be World Class?

January 4, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

The answer is yes. Two examples are tennis pros Andre Agassi and Serena Williams. In his biography, Open, Agassi describes with deep honesty how he hated the game of tennis since the time he started playing it. But he couldn’t stop playing. His book lets you in on his thinking and emotional roller coaster ride both on an off the court. It appears that joy came when he met Stephie Graf (meeting his need for connection) and established a school for underprivileged kids (meeting his need for service).

For Williams, she not only hates tennis, she hates anything physical,–especially working out. Her favorite activities: “Anything that involves sitting down or shopping.” She says she is excellent at these things and doesn’t understand how she ever became an athlete. She says exactly what Agassi used to say, “I can’t live without [tennis].”

No doubt deeper patterns are driving the people in these examples. A lot is understood about them when you understand their relationship with their fathers.

We will all face existential crises at some point in our lives. One of the hardest of such binds is the dilemma: A) do I want to be happy or B) do I want to stay in the game? Do you want to be happy or stay in a bad marriage? Do you want to be happy or keep a well-paying job? Do you want to be happy or risk being rejected for choosing the road less travelled?

Happiness and fulfillment are choices but these choice sometimes involve letting go of something.

Do you really want to be happy? It’s ok to say “no.” If you say “yes”, then follow your heart. By this I mean align your life with your core values. These vary from person to person but they include things like connection, service, truth, adventure, and respect.

This alignment can mean changing what you are doing. Often it can mean changing who you are being. The first being an external change, the other an internal change.

I’d love to hear others’ take on this dilemma.

Filed in: Leadership

About the Author (Author Profile)

Executive coach, top team facilitator, author and speaker. I work with individual leaders and their teams to help navigate personal and professional transitions and to increase leadership capacity and improve communication and relationship skills. I founded my coaching firm in 2001 following 12 years asa CEO. Check out more on me and my coaching process in my book "The Business of Wanting More: Why Some Executives Move from Success to Fulfillment and Others Don't"

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