Alonzo Mourning (CAS ‘92) and entertainer Brian McKnight led HBO’s Excellence without Excuses 2001 forum on leadership, motivation and the secrets to success in Gaston Hall last Friday.
Hosted by TNT Sports commentator Kenny Smith and MTV’s Ananda Lewis, the forum consisted of seven panelists connected to the athletic and entertainment industries discussing their stories of success and failure, stressing the need for balance and the importance of learning from mistakes.
“Don’t be afraid to fail, there’s nothing wrong with failing; just look at it as progress,” Mourning said. “Continue to stay positive because if you stay positive, you promote positive things.”
Mourning said he believes that excellence was relative, determined by an individual’s own sense of self worth.
“We cannot really control people’s perceptions of us,” he said. “If I had listened to people, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.”
The other panelists echoed this emphasis on the relativity of excellence.
“Define excellence and success for yourself,” McKnight said. “Success is within.”
He said that it was important to let go of the definitions and standards others set.
“I make up my mind that I’m going to do my best,” he said flatly. “No matter what you do, you won’t please everybody. Find a way to make it work for you.”
The panelists, specifically Mourning, were asked several questions about what motivated them.
“Trying to set an example for people who look up to me … that’s what motivates me,” Mourning said. He said that he had made mistakes in the past, but that his mistakes allowed him to make better decisions and to give more realistic advice.
“The greatest gift, especially to young people, is time … It’s more valuable than any dollar you can give,” Mourning said.
Some Georgetown students were not impressed by the encouraging words.
“I’m not sure that it was geared towards something that I really wanted to listen to,” said Kate Johnson (CAS ‘01) “Its great that they come to college campuses and speak, but perhaps it wasn’t the best topic for the majority of Georgetown students.”
She said that while the speakers promoted important motivational messages, they did not say anything she had not heard before.
Most students said that they had come to the event to simply to see Alonzo Mourning and Brian McKnight. Allen Iverson, a former Georgetown student, had been scheduled to come, but did not appear.
The program was sponsored by the Georgetown Athletic Department, the Hoya Hoop Club and the Lecture Fund.