How NBA Legend Phil Jackson Changed My Perspective on CF

Benching the ego can matter more than being in control, a columnist learns

William Ryan avatar

by William Ryan |

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I don’t know about you, but I constantly sweat the small stuff. It’s probably not healthy and makes me come across as a control freak.

If left in my hands, I do my best to be punctual. I get irritated, with physical effects, if I’m late. Sometimes, when life puts a stick in your spoke, you have to adjust. However, I’m not good at adjusting on the fly. I do my best to bend the rules whenever it’s in my favor, because I must be on time. I’m still learning that I can’t always get what I want.

But the larger stuff? Leave it up to me, because I can somehow manage it. The difference between the big stuff and the small stuff is night and day, but I have a great ability to manage with a calming presence when big things go haywire. It’s only fair to everyone around me that I do so.

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It’s not that I don’t freak out over hospital stays or bad news from the doctor, but I keep it internal until the moment is right when I can properly address the situation with a laugh or a smile.

A principle worth following

Fun fact: Basketball is my favorite sport. Phil Jackson is the greatest NBA coach of all time, having won 11 championships while head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. What Jackson is most known for, besides being a winner, is that he knew better than anyone how to deal with a multitude of personalities and egos, including those of Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant.

It takes a strong individual to not just lead these personalities, but also to help them accomplish their goal: winning a championship.

One of his principles, borrowed from his book “Eleven Rings,” is called “benching the ego.” Having dealt with cystic fibrosis my whole life, I know I can handle anything that’s thrown my way. Between a sepsis attack in 2019 and pneumonia last year, I became reintroduced to the arduous process that’s called getting back.

I know that it’s easier for me to get frustrated with myself, or someone or something else, when I’m trying to get back to full strength, but it’s not a conducive attitude to show everyone else in my life.

Here’s an example. When I had surgery back in 2019 for a gallbladder and appendix removal due to the sepsis attack, I was told the surgery would take an hour and a half. It took roughly six to seven hours due to how scarred my gallbladder was. They couldn’t identify it!

Of course, when surgeons are working on a patient, they’re unable to tell the patient’s loved ones about what’s going on. My girlfriend, now my wife, was getting anxious about what was taking so long and why. When I awoke from surgery, she told me that she almost bolted!

Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Despite all of my struggles, I remained calm, because I wasn’t in control of what was going on. My ego may have wanted to get up from the bed and start walking and become “normal” again, but I couldn’t. I had to let the natural process take place and get back. I had to bench my ego.

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.




Great job Will.Pray your getting better.Phil Jackson was called the human clotheshanger when he played for the Knicks way back.Love Tony

Helen Palmiero avatar

Helen Palmiero

You have such a mastery of words, Will! I can totally relate to your feelings about emergent situations. Yet another wonderful article!


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