Florida State University: How We Get Made

I recently discovered (via Laura) the “A Learning A Day” series. The series delivers concise, insight-filled emails which prompt recipients to think about work/life issues from different and deeper angles.

This recent post, for example, looks at our tendency to think “if only conditions had been perfect.” My runner peers and I undoubtedly think this frequently:

If it had been cooler (hello summer running in Florida!)

If the race course had been flatter

If my shoes had been newer

If I had not had that second glass of wine last night

The list goes on and on

The Learning A Day post ends with this observation:

The only trustworthy indicator of our performance level is our performance on a bad day.

So, if you get that opportunity to perform on your best day with perfect conditions, revel in it. It doesn’t happen often. But, when it does, it is magical.

On the other hand, if you feel most things are going wrong as you enter that important presentation [or insert relevant challenge/assignment here], welcome to life. This is how we get made.

Over the past few weeks, as I have joined my fellow Florida State alumni, fans, and supporters in sharing what I love about FSU via the #somuchmorethanfootball hashtag, I have been thinking more than usual about all of the incredible memories I made at FSU, the memories I still make here, and how to reconcile decades of great experiences with the FSU (and Tallahassee) which distills itself into the sneer I hear in the voices of national news anchors and celebrities (at least I feel like I hear it!).

A Personally Fearless Time

Through an unexpected series of Facebook conversations over the past few days, I ended up telling a Facebook friend a story that in retrospect is so embarrassing but lends itself to my point. When I was a senior at FSU, I wanted to be Homecoming Princess. The process was detailed and arduous: there were interviews to be selected as one of ten candidates, and then of course you had to accrue the most votes to be princess or be in the top five to be on the Court. I studied my FSU history so hard to be prepared for the interview. I made it to candidate level, and I did make it on the Court.

Florida State University: How We Get Made

With my parents after the Homecoming Parade.

Here’s the embarrassing part: I asked people to vote for me. Not just one or two friends. Another candidate and I went to fraternity and sorority houses who did not have candidates and asked them to vote. I did not hesitate to ask complete strangers to vote. In retrospect, of course it was a completely classless thing to do. On the flip side, I treasure the memories of being on the field during homecoming, proud to represent my university. Putting aside the “tactless” part, I remember feeling fearless in my quest. In the times over the ensuing decades when I have failed myself in the area of assertiveness, I remember what it felt like to tell strangers what I wanted, confident that I had a case.

It’s 2015; Time to Make a Different Case

Florida State taught me fearlessness. It also taught me so many things about Strength, Skill, and Character (Vires Artes Mores). It taught me to learn new things, meet new people, pursue new experiences. The background music of my time at Florida State is undeniably punctuated with the FSU Fight Song, The Hymn to the Garnet and the Gold, and the Alma Mater. I have sat through countless football games, long before we were National Champions, in years when the record was most definitely average. Our family has spent more money than the family budget really accommodated to be Seminole Boosters, purchase tickets, and park among the other faithful (although we are not currently Boosters or ticket holders).

For every #somuchmorethanfootball sentiment we share on social media, I do think we are kidding ourselves if we do not think the image of our football team and the actions of a few players disproportionately influence what the rest of the world sees and believes.

We can make every effort to share with the world all of the accolades which lead us to #praisegarnetandgood. But the headlines are not likely to gush about those when they can rant about the bad.

I don’t know the solution. I do know, that just like a family would not turn its back on a child who has gone astray, we owe it to ourselves to own this series of crises and contribute to a solution.

However we choose to react to the current spate of negative publicity, there may be negatives. Loss of revenue, loss of bragging rights, loss of football season habits and rituals built over decades by generations of fans.

This particular time in the public eye is difficult. I choose to think that these imperfect conditions are part of “how we get made,” that with strength, skill, and character, we can return to the “heads held high” we sing about in the Hymn to the Garnet and Gold.

Florida State University: How We Get Made

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