I have picked up the book, Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert for a nice weekend read. After reading Agassi’s Open and re-watching the Madrid ’09 final between Nadal and Federer every night for the past week, I thought the universe might be talking to me. The Open significance is clear; Brad was one of Agassi’s most influential coaches who helped him get over his need to perfect every shot and focus instead on beating the opponent across the net. According to Brad, it’s not necessary to bring your “A” game to every encounter, you simply have to do what is necessary to win the match, in some cases, your “B” or even “C” game might be enough. The Madrid ’09 final is one of the few encounters on clay where Federer successfully interrupts Nadal’s rhythm, preventing him from establishing his style of play and thus winning in straight sets in less than 90 minutes. One of the announcers credits Federer’s win to his willingness to “win ugly,” to get down in the dirt and forget about playing a beautiful match and simply win.
I’ve been contemplating my love of perfection in all things, particularly in crafting an aesthetically pleasing life and have wondered if I haven’t had it wrong all along. Gilbert’s notion of beginning exactly where you are, warts and all and developing a strategy that presupposes imperfections in not only yourself but your potential opponent seems worthy of a look. As I discovered last year, to do may actually be to live.
I’m going spelunking; I’ll let you know if I find any treasures.