“Fear can be useful”

As you can see, I’m in the middle of reading the book from Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes.

I have never really had to work hard for anything. At least I don’t consider what I did hard work. I was comfortable. I had goals, but knew that they could be achieved with just a little bit of time and a continuation on the trajectory of life that I was on. BOY WAS I WRONG!

Things changed dramatically after our second child. Let’s paint a picture.

My awesome wife is a PTA and wants to go back to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy. We had our tentative plans on place for her to apply (and of course get accepted) into one of the two programs in the country that allow for this transition. We, meaning she, was pregnant at the time and were expecting to love after the baby was born.

Life happens and sometimes there are situations that you can’t predict or prepare for in life.

Our second daughter was born with Down Syndrome. We weren’t aware of it until the next day, as we were parents enjoying the birth of a child. Our lives changed that day. I can speak from my perspective.

I became afraid.

I wondered how will I support this child through adulthood?

I see and try to prepare for worst case scenario at all times?

Will my child be able to take care of herself?

Will my child be able to hold a job?

Will my child be able to live alone?

All of these questions have to be faced by parents with a special needs child. I don’t like to wait for things to happen in life, but like to prepare and over prepare.

I was afraid that I would fail my child and therefore fail my family, my wife and my children. That fear lit a fire under my ass that I have never had before. There is more focus now than I’ve ever had previously.

Here’s the sad part…it’s not hard to shoot to the upper echelon of our profession. Since my daughter’s birth, I worked and worked on creating myself as a brand. This was to prepare for a move that had to happen. I now need to create a legacy for my family. I was comfortable at my previous job, but it wouldn’t have provided the amount of financial stability that I needed to possibly support a child through retirement. I had to make a move.

I worked on building a brand and within 1 year was named among the top 40 influencers in our field by Updoc media. I started mentoring PT students and other PTs throughout the country. I started a Facebook show called People you should know. I doing more volunteer work now than I had in the previous years.

I thought that I was “busy” before Natalia was born, but now I’m no longer busy…I’m productive. I opened a clinic in Joliet with the purpose of trying to give back to the entire city. It’s been said that if you want to make a million dollars, you have to help a million people. My mission has been set to help as many people as I can because I know that this is the only way to face my fear of failing my family.

If you found this to be inspiring, informative, or entertaining…share it so others can read and learn from my experience.

Thanks.

Story

“Having a story may be the most important part of your new venture…”

We all have a story. I actually have spent a good amount of my time recently learning about other people’s, group’s and mission’s story on my FB page People you should know. My story started a long time ago, but I won’t bore you with the details. The one part of the story that is most important is that I always look for the next opportunity to succeed. At Sam’s club, I was named employee of the year in 2013 and quit soon thereafter because I had reached my ceiling. There was no other Hill to climb or challenge to face. I know that it sounds like a small feat, but I worked hard to reach that status. Unfortunately, the journey was worth more than the victory, because my journey seemed complete.

My PT career has taken a similar trajectory. I started in a clinic, that I was excited to work at, in order to learn as much as I could. After 2 years, I lost that zest because I was more like a robot than a sponge. I wasn’t learning…growing…as much as I was simply going through the motions of treating patients. It sounds horrible, I know, but I was pretty good at using the McKenzie Method back in those days. If you’re familiar with Mariano Rivera, you know that he had one pitch. It was an unhittable pitch for a long period of time. He built a career on throwing his “cut fastball”. I spent more than two years honing my craft as a McKenzie based PT, but after 2 years I felt like the game wasn’t any fun anymore. I remember taking the trash out after 18 months on the job and thinking that I was “bored” with my job and could treat patients with back pain while dreaming.

Not soon after, I left that job and took a hefty pay cut in the process (you’ll start to see a pattern that I didn’t see until recently). I switched to a hospital-based outpatient department. Mind you, for two years I saw nothing but patients in pain with a generic diagnosis of: low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, hip pain so on and so forth. I don’t mean to demean the patient’s pain, but c’mon “low back pain”?! Is t that what the patient told the doctor at the beginning of the session. The doctor then turns around and gives the patient a referral to PT stating back pain. (Venting a little).

At the hospital, I encountered something that I hadn’t encountered in the two previous years…a protocol! A protocol is similar to the old book “paint by number”. There is. O significant thought that goes into treating these patients post-surgically because we are bound to treat the patient by following the directions given. I had the hardest time treating patients post-surgically because I spent the previous 2-3 years with constant algorithms floating through my head. Think John Nash from “A Beautiful Mind”. I may be exaggerating, but that’s what it feels like at times. For those two years I was playing a chess match with the patient’s symptoms and pain. I was always playing 5 moves ahead with an answer for every patient move. (A patient move is considered his/her response to a previous exercise or intervention. For instance, a patient can only always respond one of three ways: better, worse, same). I had a response for each of these answers and just worked through this chess match with each patient. My biggest fear was “paint by number” because the patient would come in and…game was already over because I couldn’t make any moves.

I digress.

I matured while working at the hospital. I learned to be a team player instead of playing clean-up or closer. I learned that when horses pull in the same direction that they can pull harder than they could as individuals. Unfortunately, I also learned something else about me…I hate when the game is over. I continue to search for ways to grow and be better day-day. I reached the end of my limit at the hospital because the opportunities to play and grow were no longer available.

This is where my story starts again. This time, this time, the game is much bigger. The chess board has expanded. The moves I can make are multi-variable. I liken my current position in the profession like playing a continuous chess match in which the boards are suspended above each other like floating plates. When one piece gets taken it gets placed on the board above the previous board. The game ends when all of the pieces make it to the top board and only one piece remains. There is no tipping pieces. There is no quitting. Only moves and reactions. This is the equivalent to the biggest algorithm I have ever got to play inside. I can make on”wrong” moves, only temporary losses.

Life is pressure, but the game is fun.

Goodnight all.

Thanks for reading some of the late night ramblings.

Btw, the quote was from Blake Mycoski in “Start Something That Matters”.

“No one owes you anything”

This quote is from an excerpt of a conversation with Amelia Boone from “Tools for Titans”.

Growing up with 5 brothers and a sister, I learned that I wasn’t owed anything and that I had to work to get anything. My brothers were great baseball players and my sister had a mean tennis serve. I wasn’t built to be an athlete. At least that’s what I told myself.

In my neighborhood, college wasn’t an expectation or even an option unless one was a master of sport. Our area wasn’t known for producing scholars.

This would be my path. My parents sacrificed in order to send me to a private high school, where it would be hard to fit in because my upbringing wasn’t the “Leave it to Beaver” type. I had more in common with JJ Walker than Wally Cleaver.

I was descent at sports, but I knew I couldn’t play. I saw sports as a gateway to failure. I saw too often how excelling at something could lead one down a broken road. I chose not to play.

I instead joined the honors group at Providence. It was a small group of about 30 of us. One of the coaches said we weren’t “that smart, just knew how to cheat better”. He was partly correct, we knew how to cooperate to win.

What’s all this have to do with physical therapy?

In the end no one owes you anything. Having finished PT school, it was time to rest on my laurels and collect a paycheck. It was time to treat every patient that walked through my door the same as anyone before him/her. It was time to take the easy road…because I earned it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am blowing smoke.

I still follow this saying that I’m owed nothing and bust my tail to continue to learn and produce. I treat each patient as a new patient, even if it’s a presentation I’ve seen hundreds of times before, because it’s possible that there will be something with this presentation that will help me with the next hundred.

I never get to “cash it in” because I haven’t made it yet.

I have a pattern in life and it’s very apparent. My mom brought it to my attention about 15 years ago. The pattern is that once I’ve climbed the mountain and made it to the top…I pivot. The juice is always worth the squeeze, even when there is no juice.

There’s always something to learn, something to accomplish and another mountain to climb. I only wish that everyone could live a live never feeling like they were owed anything.

Salute!

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Thanks.