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Will The Real You Please Stand Up? Unleash Your Inner Genius

Chapter 8: Unleash Your Genius

A little girl was doodling in class one day while the teacher was
teaching English. The teacher noticed that she was distracted,
so she walked over to her desk. ”What are you doing, Sherry?”
“Drawing,” the little girl answered gleefully.
“I can see that. What are you drawing?” the teacher said
as she leaned in to look at the tablet.

“God.” Sherry answered.
The teacher found this amusing. “Sherry, that’s silly.
No one knows what God looks like.”
Sherry turned to the teacher with smiling eyes and said.
“They will when I’m finished.”

What are you drawing today? What’s on your canvas? Are there brilliant hues of color and textures reflecting your zest for life and passion for living? Or is it full of the drabness of complacency, negativity and lack? We come to the planet as empty canvases with no limits on

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our creativity and no boundaries on what we can become. We are a mere lump of clay that can be molded into a magnificent piece of art or we can remain a lump of clay. It’s our choice, it’s not about favor from God. It’s not about which family you were born into. It’s not about which schools you enrolled in or which neighborhood you grew up in. There are no restrictions on how high you can fly or which seas you can sail. Yet many of us leave here with only a few splashes of paint on our canvases. You have so many different rays of genius in you.

THE GENIUS OF SUPERMAN

It’s hard to say no to Superman. When Chris, my younger brother, was five years old, he wanted to enter a 30-yard dash at “Fun Day” at a City of Dallas summer youth program. It was a project that was designed to give kids alternatives to just hanging out on street corners during the summer vacation. Chris, who at the time insisted that everyone in our family call him “Superman,” had always been fascinated by running, jumping, and, yes, flying.

When it was time for dinner, Mom would say, “Chris, time for dinner, sweetie.” But he wouldn’t come. Mom would repeat herself. “Chri-iiiis, come and eat, baby.” Still no Chris. Finally, I told her that if she wanted Chris to appear she’d simply have to call him by his name—Superman. “I’m not calling him Superman. I’m his mother, he’ll come,” Mom said, looking very serious. “Don’t let me call you again, little boy!” Still no Chris. Finally, Mom caved in. “Supermaaaaaan!” And faster than a speeding bullet, Chris would appear, wearing the “S” cape that Cora, a friend of the family, had made him for his birthday. But he wouldn’t just walk into the room like everyone else. Superman made an entrance. He’d make “sssssswoooop” sounds as if he were jumping from one building to the next and then he’d plop down into his seat. If Mom cooked vegetables that he didn’t want to eat, he’d pretend that they were kryptonite. This never worked, but it was always fun to watch because he was so energetic and persuasive.

And that’s exactly what I remember most about him as he prepared for the 30-yard dash that day at the park—his energy and his gift for persuasion. His desire to express his running genius.

Each week that we went to the park, he would stand on the sidelines hypnotized as he watched the older kids run in races. And although he didn’t really understand the concept of running a race (so I thought), he somehow knew that the atmosphere of competing and doing your best provided one of the greatest feelings in the world.

For three weeks, he’d run over to me, panting and out of breath with the same question, “Can I run today, Fran?” For three weeks my answer had remained the same, “We’ll see,” that worn-out phrase my parents used on me whenever they didn’t know exactly how to say no with good reason. But on this one day, I finally saw the sparkle in Chris’s eyes. He wanted—no, he needed—to run in that race, so I agreed to give him his shot.

As one event finished and they geared up for the next one, I found out from a parent that the other two kids in Chris’s race were seven and nine years old. They were much bigger and more developed than my gangly five-year-old shrimp of a brother who’d just lost one of his front teeth. Oh, no, I thought. He’s gonna get creamed. He’ll hate me for letting him sign up!

I jogged over to the starting point, thinking that maybe I should pull Mighty Mouse from the race. Maybe encourage him to run with kids his own age. But something in Chris’ spirit told me that age was nothing but a number in his mind.



The official called for the runners to take their marks, and I told Chris that I would be waiting for him at the finish line and that I’d be proud of him no matter what happened. I kissed him and sent him to the starting blocks, certain that I was making a big mistake.

A few seconds later the race began, and Chris took off as if he’d been shot from a cannon. And just as I’d imagined, the two older kids, one to his left, the other to his right, were leaving him in the dust. All of the spectators were going crazy, cheering for all three kids. I jumped up and down, waving my hands, wearing a smile as wide as Texas.

Chris kept his eyes on me and continued to run his little heart out. Finally, he crossed the finished line, leaping into my arms. “Way to go, Chris,” I said, holding back a fountain of tears. “You were soooo good, baby! You ran so hard, I’m proud of you.”

He hugged my neck so tight I was sure it would snap. With his sweaty face buried in my neck, he kissed me, pulled away and asked excitedly, “Did I win?”

Surely, he thought, he must have won as hard as I was smiling. I laughed but didn’t even think twice about the answer to his question. I continued to flash my megawatt smile, took one look at the gleam in his eyes and the joy spilling out of his chest, and said, “You sure did, baby. You sure did.” He hugged me again, this time tighter.

I now realize that the discomfort I had experienced prior to Chris’ race had more to do with my own fifteen-year-old athletic ego. I had already been conditioned to believe that winning wasn’t the only thing, it was everything. But at age five, Chris taught me that winning has many different faces. It’s playing hard and having fun. It’s giving it your absolute best every time you compete. These lessons helped me to land a spot on the Houston Comets’ first WNBA championship team in 1997. These lessons continue to help me build a successful career in entertainment as a broadcaster, producer, and writer.

I can still see Chris on the sidelines on that blistery hot day. Stretching like he was Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson. And there I was sweating bullets because I thought that if he lost, he’d never run again; or worse, that I wouldn’t be able to comfort him.

Chris’s story is one that I share with athletes and parents all over the country. It’s a prime example of the fact that it’s not whether you win or lose, it truly is about how you run the race or how you play the game. That day he received a third-place ribbon for his efforts. In his mind, he’d won because he had enjoyed the race and given it his all. It didn’t matter to him that he’d been the last one to cross the finish line. He ran like a winner.

Chris taught me that on some days, the opponent might simply perform or be better than you. That’s the nature of sports but hardly a reason to give up competing altogether. As a player in the game of life, my goal, thanks to my baby brother, is now very simple: to love what I do, give each day 100 percent, and know that these two things alone, make me a winner—on or off the court. Unleashing your genius is about running like there is no finish line. It’s about running like you have no competitors. It’s about focusing on your race and completing your divine assignment.

When I think back on that scorcher of a day, I realize what Chris gave me was more than a life lesson or a sportsmanship jewel. He was teaching me about “being” rather than “doing.” He was teaching me to be authentic, something that had apparently gotten lost in my short fifteen years of life. He showed me what genius in action looks like. It’s letting go of the outcome. It’s joyfully running your race.

Excerpted from Will The Real You Please Stand Up? - For more information on the book, visit Dr. Fran's website!