I am the fourth child in a family of six children. I have three older brothers of which two are seven years older than me and the remaining brother is eight years older than I am. My little brother and sister are eleven and thirteen years younger than me, respectively. Other than highlighting the fact that my parents have been “busy” for a while, there was a significant period of time where I was the baby in the family before I became a big brother.
As the little brother, I can tell you countless stories of things my brothers did to torture me. On an overcast night, my oldest brother told me that because I couldn’t see the moon, I was the devil. Whenever I would ask to go with them anywhere, they would always tell me to take a shower and change my clothes. It always seemed like a reasonable request, but as soon as my bedroom or bathroom door would close, they would speed off.
Eventually, things got better and they would take me with them whenever they went to play basketball. I’m not sure if it was because they wanted to hang out with me or because at the age of ten I was taller than them. Each time we played, I spent most of the time yelling, “I’m open, I’m open.” In true “baby” fashion, when I didn’t get the ball I would start crying and walk off the court. Giving up actually made things worst, as they would make fun of me even more. I guess I wasn’t the most resilient child. On the walk or drive home they would give me some very candid “feedback” about my behavior and explain to me what it meant to be “open” and the things I could do to get myself open.
The lessons my brothers shared with me about how to be open on the court transferred over to my life off the court. It is not enough to just say you are open; you actually have to take some actions to make yourself open.
Below are seven tips from my big brothers:
- Become a continuous learner (learn the game)
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions (if you are not sure, ask)
- Become a better listener (the feedback is meant to help you, not hurt you)
- Stay in the moment (and the game)
- Be patient (take your time, don’t rush the shot)
- Always be aware (know where the ball is, where you are, and the person you are guarding)
- Don’t be afraid (you play slower when you play scared)
The best part of being the baby and then becoming a big brother was the fact that I was afforded the opportunity to teach my little brother and sister what I had learned. By passing on the knowledge, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of what it meant to be open.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself is that I am not always open. When I am frustrated or angry or hurt, I’m not in a position to be “open.” When I learned that about myself, I made a point of letting people know when I was open to feedback and also made a habit of asking people if they are in a position to receive feedback before providing it.
Just incase you are wondering, I was and still am a great big brother. I took my little brother and sister with me everywhere I went. As for the Marine Corps basic training exercises I would make them do outside in front of their friends for bad behavior or failure to do chores, I was just teaching them how to be RESILIENT.
What advice would you give others who are seeking to become more open?