Allison Fulmer Mahan is a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications at the University of Tennessee. She is a former UT women’s softball player and a current advisory board member of the Girl Scout Council of
What I’ve learned from being a team member…
First, it created the habit of an active lifestyle, one that I plan on maintaining as long as I am able. If you’re active as a child, it
decreases the chance for many health problems, cuts down on the chance of obesity, and builds muscle and muscle memory. Having that foundation early on is important.
Being active as a child also kept me focused on positive things and didn’t allow me the extra time to find things to get me in trouble. It kept me focused on my health rather than on other not-so-positive influences.
Second, I had to learn how to be a good teammate throughout adolescence. I had to be respectful of my peers, give and receive feedback, compete against my teammates, and lead both with words and by example. Not everybody gets opportunities to step into leadership positions, and I’m so grateful to have had space to learn and practice these skills.
Teams provide perspective…
Team environments also prepare you to deal with conflict. So many people fear conflict but it’s healthy and so common. Since we grow up in different households and cities with different families and experiences – we all have our own paradigms and perceptions.
Being a team member helped me get to know and understand people from different backgrounds. It opened my eyes to new and different ways of thinking, and influenced me to adopt new and different viewpoints. I’ve learned to listen intentionally to people’s opinions and communicate back to them in a respectful way. Clear and effective communication is so important when dealing with conflict, and you get lots of practice when you are on a team!
I think one of the biggest issues girls face today is the altered sense of reality presented by social media. It’s easy to make your life look perfect on social media – but that’s not how it looks behind closed doors. Girls feel like they have to be perfect, that they should look a certain way, and should promote themselves in more a sexual light. It makes them feel like if there’s a problem in their life that they are alone. I want to encourage all girls to be real and proud of who they are.
If girls have big goals and want to do something – then they shouldn’t give up. The sky’s the limit! We all face obstacles that make our path veer off from time-to-time, but if we stay focused, ethical, and passionate then there is nothing that we can’t accomplish.
In fact, if I could look at my 15-year-old self and tell her something, it would be to trust herself more, don’t be afraid to fail, and that the best is yet to come.