Some of the best advice I have been given and didn’t want to accept at the time was to fall headfirst into discomfort and challenge my weaknesses. This was the best advice for the sheer fact that it’s unavoidable, but at the same time, the worst because I personally did everything to avoid facing my some of my own weaknesses. For example, as a development intern, I would, of course, be expected to prospect at some point. The thought of asking, let alone persuading someone, to give their money to something that could be seen as a luxury terrified me. I felt like I was bothering people, and worse, the thought of not being able to raise money made me feel like I wasn’t cut out to work in development. I could easily say I was satisfied in my choice to just become better everywhere else, but why did it take being subpar somewhere to drive me to be great elsewhere? In life we are constantly presented with opportunities to overcome obstacles, with infinite ways to do so, yet how often do we find ourselves choosing the straightforward option of getting better?
Maybe it is the opportunity to avoid our inadequacies that stop us from getting better? For example, I hate writing. Why do I hate writing? I hate writing because of there is no such thing as a good writer and a bad writer. Instead, there are persistent writers and relenting writers. A persistent writer knows that there is only rewriting, but the relenting writer tries to one draft a great idea like catching lightning in a bottle. Before I began as a contributor for College AD, I would’ve certainly categorized myself as the latter. I only wrote if there were stakes on the line and found frustration in the challenge of editing and constantly working on the same thing until it lived up to the standards. In writing, I could not rely on a profound thought here or there to get me by the same way that being a better rebounder than other players on the court could. No, as a writer natural advantages such as height, strength, even a quick wit go right out of the window. If we are put in a position where we cannot avoid our inadequacy, it is often in these moments that we find failure for what may be the first time.
I hate writing because it means that one could invest all the effort in the world, days of editing, long coffee filled nights of redrafting, and ultimately to have one’s work potentially judged as a failure, but I still want the same quality that persistent writers have, the drive and humility to keep moving forward. My career may not be determined by writing, but there will easily come a point where my two degrees and years of experience will be meaningless and only the results I can produce will matter. On that day when I fail I don’t want the rationale of a relenting writer or of my younger self, eager to figure out another way. No, instead I want to be like the persistent writer banging my head against new ideas and methods until I am successful. I don’t think that choosing to focus on other areas inherently made me “weaker” so to say, it actually made me a better asset for my department overall, but eventually, there will not be a way around a certain task before getting to where we want to be. On that day we should all want to be great at the things we hate because if we don’t challenge ourselves when there may be many options, then we won’t challenge ourselves on the day where the only option is to go straight through the problem.
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.