Stepping Out On Faith: Why I Left My Comfort Zone

Originally published on LinkedIn on August 1, 2022

The thing about a dream is, you must wake up at some point.
I finally woke up.

It’s funny because I never thought I would ever leave college athletics – let alone work in that space along with having the type of impact that I had. All I ever wanted to do was be a sports reporter. That was my high school dream.

However, as I write this, that’s where I am. Out of college athletics. Out of my comfort zone.

I am at peace with this decision and look forward to what’s ahead for my life.

I am working as the Senior Director of Strategic Communications for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. It’s the perfect opportunity for me at the right time. Still being able to make an impact in the lives of young people is the best part of this change as well as the opportunity for new and exciting experiences.

I’ve already spent significant time at Boeing headquarters and in the NBA’s main offices in New York City. I’ve worked with major corporations like Wells Fargo and Vanguard on messaging. Furthermore, I have started building critical connections with public relations staffs outside of college athletics and learning plenty about the nuanced ways to craft press releases.

The coolest part of my new opportunities is being able to travel to cool places, see my mentees I haven’t seen in years because of the pandemic, meet people in person that I have followed on social media and spend time with a lot of college athletic professionals and friends.

All I can do is thank God for being in this position.

When I tweeted about my faith and how God led me here, placing this chance into my lap, recently, one of my good friends sent me a text message. Paraphrasing the message was this, “I admire your faith, but you also worked hard to get into this position so don’t discredit that too.”
While that was true, I know the sweat equity, hard work, pride, and passion I poured into my career was the biggest reason for this new and exciting opportunity. Not many people can say they accomplished all their goals. Still crazy when I think about it.

I wanted to be a sports reporter. Done. Considered one of the best high-school sports writers in the state of Pennsylvania in 2003 by the Philadelphia Tribune.

I wanted to work at ESPN. Never thought in a million years that would happen. Was recruited by ESPN to work at the Worldwide Leader. Two years in Bristol, Connecticut provided me with lots of lessons in leadership, strategic thinking, and high-level decision-making that are helpful today.
Being in college athletics, I accomplished more than I ever imagined from being named a Champion of Diversity in 2022, CoSIDA Rising Star Award winner in 2011, serving on important committees, and leading CoSIDA as the second African American president during the 2018-19 year. I wanted to be an Associate Athletic Director. More goals achieved.

Writing impactful stories and shining a spotlight on the WNBA for five years was another pinch-me moment. As an ardent fan of the league, it’s wild to think that I sat on press row at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Madison Square Garden, UT-Arlington College Park Arena, and Capital One Arena.
I encourage you to CLICK HERE to read my blog of my 25 top WNBA experiences in celebration of their 25th year.

Everything hasn’t been smooth. I’ve failed plenty and will continue to do so. I always focus on my shortcomings and while I know I shouldn’t, those disappointments keep me hungry and humble.

I lost my passion for college athletics because I felt certain aspects of the athletic communications profession weren’t valued as much anymore and many folks doing the important work were taken for granted, which is sad. There were additional challenges that contributed to me leaving college athletics. The best thing I did in 2022 – aside from exiting my comfort zone – was going to therapy.
However, my circle insists that’s because I am human and not perfect. They let me know that I am super hard on myself. So, a minor setback created more angst for me. I treated it like it was a fatal error.

At the end of the day, I accepted what God allows. Even when I didn’t understand it, I knew it was working for my good. I accepted every trial because I understood it is a stepping stone to something greater. I hated experiencing failure and doubt this past year, but the gift of perspective allows me to appreciate the storms I endured. After all, storms don’t last forever.

I am blessed that I still have amazing friendships with numerous colleagues who are doing life-changing work in college athletics. I am also excited about what the future holds for me.

Stepping out of our comfort zones is scary but it’s one of the few ways in which we all grow and experience the power of our purpose. I wrote this in 2017 and it’s appropriate to share again, God isn’t concerned about our comfort as He is about our purpose.
True happiness comes from pursuing your passions.

I will close by saying that the real thrill of life is the process, the quality of interactions, relationships, and the value you contribute to others, which in turn has made all my dreams come true.

A huge fan of women’s basketball, Rob Knox is currently the Senior Director of Strategic Communications at Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and a CoSIDA past president. An award-winning communications professional, Knox has over 15-years of experience in several media sectors, including sports information, newspapers, and television. A member of The Lincoln University of Pennsylvania Athletics Hall of Fame, graduate of the NCAA Leadership Institute, and 2011 CoSIDA Rising Star Award winner, Knox is one of the most influential, passionate, and accomplished athletic communications professionals and storytellers in the country.