Lipscomb Academy’s Black Student Union welcomed Dr. Mikki Allen, Tennessee State University (TSU) athletic director, for a special lunch with students, faculty, and staff. Allen, a former San Francisco 49ers professional athlete and University of Tennessee football player, encouraged students to pursue a vocation in a field they love – advice he took to heart, seek a purposeful life, and focus on self-actualization to become the best version of themselves.
Encircled by almost 50 students, faculty, and staff, Allen emphasized five key points to living a successful life. The importance of knowing one’s place in the narrative of God resides at the heart of the matter and leads to the success of the end product. “I know where my blessings come from, and I am a firm believer in God,” stated Allen. “We are on this earth to make an impact.” Each individual’s journey requires the process of prioritizing goals based on one’s mission, and these goals then provide direction to accomplish the overall plan.
Self-confidence is key to achieving success. Allen referred to this self-reflection as “the Power of You.” Through his question, “If you don’t believe in yourself, then how can anyone else?”, he pondered the quandary of lacking self-assurance. Allen challenged his audience to cease the societal comparison to others and focus on building healthy self-esteem.
In order to perform well, one must be prepared for the moment at hand. Times of doubt are inevitable; therefore, one’s mindset determines the outcome in every situation. Allen stressed, “Your attitude needs to be positive or at least neutral. Your positive approach and mindset to any challenge will help you thrive.”
Each individual has a brand, a brand that is influenced by others. Allen asked, “Who is in your crew, and do they reciprocate what you are trying to do?” Focus on healthy relationships by surrounding oneself with those that reflect the same values, give positive perspectives, and build each other up.
Allen concluded with a reminder of how to deal with success once achieved. Some buckle under the pressure while others stay grounded and focus. The secret, Allen said, is “visualizing yourself accomplishing something. Then move toward the goal until it is achieved, staying focused on where you started and the work it took to get there.”
When asked which athlete Allen admires most, he instantly recognized Michael Jordan for his self-confidence and positive attitude. “He [Jordan] delivered in clutch moments. He rose to it,” stated Allen. “Mike retired three decades ago, but we are all still wearing his shoes. That says a lot about the character and the man.”
After a career-ending football injury, Allen co-created a collegiate license apparel business bought by Russell Athletic five years after launching the apparel line. Looking for a new direction, he entered pharmaceutical sales only to realize his passion lies with athletes and their dedication to their craft. Hired in 2020 by TSU, Allen has used his experience as a sports administrator to launch a significant development campaign for facility enhancements, hire notable coaches, and solidify an unprecedented partnership between TSU Athletics and Sirius XM Radio.