I recently started reading this book, ‘Character Driven.’ I remember my dad getting the book for me 4 or 5 years ago, but at the time reading it, or any book for that matter, was at the bottom of my list of things to do. I loved reading as a kid, but I fell out of the habit as I transitioned into high school. I wish I could say that I had a reason for putting books on the side, but ultimately I just chose to stop reading.
The author of ‘Character Driven’ is five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher. I knew Derek from watching many NBA games as a kid, and he was always a player who carried himself with respect. As I learned more about Derek’s journey, on and off the court, I encountered something by ‘D-Fish’ that I thought everyone could learn from.
“Parents frequently instruct their children, “Do as you’re told.” In most houses, the emphasis is on the told. In mine, it seems to me now, the emphasis was on the do.”
-“Character Driven” Derek Fisher, 2009.
As with most other bits of information that grab my attention, I paused and re-read those three sentences over again. I thought to myself how true this statement was. If most of you are like me you’ve heard the instruction “Do as you’re told” more times than you can count. These three sentences by Derek caught my attention because, like most people, I feel that my experience with “Do as you’re told” was always about the told. While I surely don’t fault my parents for this, I wonder how different I might be if emphasis had’ve been on ‘do’.
I think back to how I felt many times in high school. Trying to be perfect — to do exactly as I was told — caused an overload of emotions….fear, doubt, uncertainty. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to listen, or that I wanted to get in trouble. I simply panicked whenever I felt trapped by one option. Because of this, I struggled following the rules for many years — mainly because I was overly focused on what I couldn’t do. This broken thought process hindered me in sports, relationships, and at home with my family. I constantly worried about messing things up, looking stupid, and causing my team to lose. And while I was eventually able to overcome those trivial worries I’ve always wondered about others who can’t shake the pressure of not making a mistake.
Why did I engulf myself in long standing tug-of- war, a battle that lacked a true opponent? I mean how hard is it really to be home by 11? Or take the trash out before you leave for school? Why can’t you be smarter and not turn the ball over? These simple, basic commands plagued my life with restlessness and headache for years. It wasn’t until I learned that imperfection was okay — and that true satisfaction in life came from genuine effort — that I was content with everything that I was and wasn’t.
Sure, there are going to be many times in life where you are going to be expected to do as you’re told. I can’t tell you whether you should or shouldn’t do those things. But please don’t let the fear of falling short keep you where you stand.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite poems.
Our Greatest Fear
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
Long story short, be a ‘Doer’. Attack life, and be content with where the pieces fall.
Best to all of you,