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By Geraline L. Handsome
On the way to discovering your identity, you will be associated with many others in college that are also trying to find theirs. Among these are your fellow teammates. They are trying to develop the personal attributes they need to be successful in college and beyond, just as you are. Therefore, it is important that you not hinder their process of finding their identity.
Have you ever heard this? “You’re not the boss of me! You don’t tell me what to do!”
Did it come from a sibling or someone else?
Have you ever said it or thought it? How did you feel? Did you feel constrained?
Well, I was the one who heard it. Being the oldest of 7, 5 boys and 2 girls, I was the boss. With that position came much responsibility. What I said, went! It was my way, and there was no highway. I was the boss and ‘always had to be right.’ I had to be, because being wrong meant trouble- for everybody!
From this experience, I developed an attitude of disrespect toward others. Unfortunately, I carried this attitude to college.
How was this disrespectful? Read on.
My basketball teammates became my siblings. When situations, on and off the court, were not going as though I thought they should, I took charge. I was ‘right’ all the time. My opinion was the only one that counted. I knew what was best for us.
At least that’s what I thought………
Was I wrong?
In retrospect, yes.
I did not know that true leadership involved having respect for people.
I had to learn that part of respecting others means listening to, understanding, and getting to know them.
I had to learn that it means expecting people to do their best.
I had to learn that it means including others in making decisions that involve them.
I had to learn that it means helping to create an environment that encourages growth in others as well as yourself. One that would not be limited by the knowledge and talent of one person.
For instance, my teammates had scholarships to play women’s basketball just as I did, and therefore, knew about as much or more than I in some areas. Respect for them would have allowed me to get to know them – their strengths and weaknesses – not to control them, but to harmonize with them to make us a better team.
Many of you will go on to be in leadership positions. I encourage you to make respecting others a part of your identity so that you will become the great leader that’s inside you! Begin by respecting your teammates by getting to know them and allowing them the freedom to express themselves.
Did anyone every tell you that you were bossy growing up? I would love to hear about it.