Dear Younger Me: Never Let a Role Define Your Impact

This post is part of the #YPSportsChat Blog Series! This series will give young professionals an inside look at the intricacies of the sports business world and advice on how to navigate it. 

Chase your dream no matter what. Image via

Chase your dream no matter what. Image via

Dear Younger Erick,

Well, I have some surprising news for you. You are twenty-four years old and not in law school. Don’t worry you still went to graduate school so your love for torturous education did not go anywhere.

By the way, congratulations you are engaged now too (I can’t believe it either, but that is a story for another time). By now I am sure you are wondering what in the world you could possibly be doing if not becoming a lawyer…well, you ended up working in college athletics.

There are so many things I could tell you about just how you end up there, but I will focus on just these three.

Never Let a Role Define Your Impact

Remember that first day of practice in your last year of basketball when you told your coach that your main goal was to play ball in college and you didn’t care how or where. You were told that you weren’t tall enough to play power forward or center at the next level. You had to ask yourself are you defined by a position on the court or do you want to be a basketball player?

Your answer then was that you wanted to be a basketball player. From then on, you were in the guard drills, you were in the big man drills, you guarded every position, from point guard to center, in scrimmages and games.

You spent hours outside on shooting outside your house, before practice, after practice. Your coach would dub you the 6th man, a small forward, a playmaker but you didn’t need those assignments.

From the beginning, all you ever wanted to be was a basketball player and have a positive impact on the game. That ability to not allow yourself to be caught up in titles was important.

As you press forward in life always remember to not allow your impact to be defined by titles that others assign but by the how you are able to accomplish the intentions that you set out for yourself.

Take the Last Shot Every Time  

Remember the day you crashed knee first into the ground, sprained your ACL and gave up on your dream because of no one else really supporting your goal besides you. You told yourself that basketball would end someday so why not now. Your knee would heal, but your passion would wane.

Besides, you wanted to become a lawyer anyway and sports were something you could do as long as your grades were not impacted. Eventually, every journey comes to an end but you found yourself essentially having the ball with seconds left on the clock and you refused to take a shot.

There will be times where you give your all to things and you still fail, but you would be satisfied with the results knowing that you did everything within your power to gain the desired result.

It is not about being told yes every time, though. Never settle for situations where you are guaranteed success because more likely you are succeeding in a way, but failing yourself in so many others.

Just as good is the enemy of great, the fear of failure is the enemy of the drive to succeed.  As you move forward in life always take that last shot and you will be surprised how satisfied you can be in the face of failure and how much more satisfied you can be in moments of earned victory.

Enjoy Yourself

You never celebrated a single point, rebound, block, win or loss on the court. You never celebrated all the good grades you would earn in school. You found little excitement in your early acceptance to various universities.

Any time that you found yourself getting worked up about the details, you remembered that there was an ultimate goal that you had in mind. Everything else was just a check on the list and a step in that direction. You have always been a systemic thinker focused on the big picture, but never lose the reason for why you do what you do in the process of trying to do it.

You want to help people and change lives for the better, well make sure to be the change you want to see in the world by starting with your own. That starts with appreciating things one day at a time and doing the things you love because you love them. When you play basketball now, you play because you love it and nothing more. You celebrate every point, rebound, block, win or loss because you get to play.

Playing basketball doesn’t get you a step closer to a job or to graduation, but everything in life is not about achieving a goal. Taking time to enjoy yourself just makes you more appreciative which and more focused on what is and is not important.

In Summary

I will tell you why you did not become a lawyer. You focused on the law because you were good at it. In fact, I know you would have made a great lawyer because you would have taken your drive to succeed in the field with you.

The reason you settled for being a lawyer is because it was a way to help people that everyone pushed you toward.

When you took the time to think about what you could wake up doing every day no matter what, the answer was simple, something with sports. You did not become a college athlete, but you would help college athletes for the same reason that you wanted to be one.

Sports allowed you to simulate life over and over, succeed and fail, and ultimately succeed in every other area you pursued. Sports is the world where you choose your destiny, where you can give your all until the clock hits zero, and enjoy every moment along the way.

We both know that if you did not get a job in sports you would still be at every game because you could not kick the habit.

Instead of just being a fan, why not be a person that helps those moments happen? So here we are pursuing collegiate athletics. I am not too far down this road myself, but I look forward to letting you know how it turns out and what future Erick will have to say to me.


Erick Taylor (@ericktaylor_jr.)

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