We often don’t see ourselves actively seeking the world beyond our comfort zones. In just a few months of graduate school, I’ve learned just how necessary a healthy group is and how easy it actually is to create the right mindset as a young professional. Rather than avoiding differences of those around us, we need to dive straight into those differences. Acknowledging feelings independent of facts allows true understanding of those around us, not just for who they but for why they are. If understanding our own “why” keeps us going, just imagine the kind of healthy relationships formed when we understand the “why” of those around us as interpreted by them and not ourselves.
Invalidating the feelings of others, the easiest way to lose out on a relationship. Since feelings are real, our own feelings make Invalidating others come so easily. In no way is understanding someone agreeing or disagreeing with them, so if there is no black and white in the area, then why are we so hard pressed to create one? Collegiate athletics is an ecosystem of relationships like no other. From donors, student-athletes, athletic administrators, and university administrators our industry is full of those with conflicting interests and common goals at the same time. Conflicts are the nature of ecosystems and thus relationships so disagreeing with any member of the constituency is more than normal, it is honestly needed. But how often do we find ourselves assigning character assessment to a person based on their feelings toward an idea?
For example, the debate about pay for play in collegiate athletics has sides that substantiated through feelings and facts from many academic disciplines. Attempting to use facts to override feelings achieves the opposite of getting others on our side. In spite of where we fall on the side of this debate, the feelings we have about the subject matter. However, feelings can only rule over the rational mind for so long, and attempts at invalidation only stoke the fire keeping people from seeing eye to eye. We all have our different reasons for being in this field, but in the earliest stages when we all have to work elbow to elbow with others is when we have the true chance to get beyond our biases and learn how to build strong relationships filled with conflict and accord, all the while working toward the same goal.
Ultimately, the thought of relationships being lost only when individuals no longer speak to each other is one that I disagree with. Once you have painted a person with your perceptions, then that relationship and your chance to engage with anything beyond the shell of them that we allow is gone. In order to have functional relationships, we must acknowledge the reality of feelings. Feelings by no means are facts, but they are real in spite their inception. If you choose to dismiss someone’s feelings instead of finding and understanding the cause of them then that person is lost to us. Our industry is gray, but there are so many shades of gray that we can still use them to continually define and highlight the distinct work of art that is collegiate athletics.
Erick Taylor is an aspiring college sports professional and MPSA candidate attending Texas A&M University. Originally from the Greater Atlanta area, Erick received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University, where he also served as a development intern for the Panther athletic department. A young, relatively inexperienced prospect in this industry, Erick is in search of the tools and skills required for success. By sharing his journey, he hopes to help others achieve their professional goals as well.