Anyone that knows me won’t be surprised when I say that last week was one of the best weeks. To be fair, I frequently have great weeks. My positivity is able to turn a bad week into at least a decent one. But that’s not what made this past week so awesome.
The week was extremely busy with things that had to get done and I was going from one thing to another. In the process I had one of the greatest insights of my career. So much so, that it was all I could think about and all I could talk about for the entire week. Everyone heard my epiphany (It was regarding how many months someone should wait after ACL reconstruction to return to sport.) Not only was it an epiphany, but I also found a better way to explain how to implement systematic injury prevention.
While these insights are certainly great and I'm glad to share them (click here to get notified when they are released on philplisky.com), what I think was more insightful was when I asked: why was this week different than last week? Was it really my idea or was it something more?
Here is what I came up with:
1) I was ravenously learning
A couple weeks ago one of my mentors came into our advanced musculoskeletal class and presented on EMG and nerve conduction velocity. This is a subject that I am far from an expert in. So I listened intently to his lecture. During the lecture he talked about the morphologic change taste buds undergo when the glossopharyngeal nerve is cut. Well this tidbit was interesting, it certainly doesn't rise to the level of earth shattering.
But it did help tie together several of my long-standing theories and provide a new explanation to something I had never understood. I get so tired of the cliches about constantly learning throughout your career but they are true. I would like to say that every time a topic that I don't know a lot about comes up (or even ones I do know a lot about) that I am fully engaged and eager to learn, but sometimes I am not. This week, I was "all in" learning things even if was not directly related to my area of expertise.
Action point: Re-engage in active learning.
We all know the feeling we have when we come back from a continuing education course. We're overwhelmed but excited to try out all the new things we learned. It actually makes your day better. Is it that learning a new manipulation technique actually made me happier? No. It's the fact that my brain is engaged in something novel. When we stop being stimulated by learning new things, burn out usually follows quickly.
People feel like they're going through the motions if they are not engaged in something challenging. I heard recently that the famous basketball coach, John Wooden, always sought mastery and was frequently seen in the front row of lectures taking notes when he was in his 90s.
2) Enlightenment doesn't come in one week (nor does your ideal career)
While I initially attributed my enlightenment about systematic athlete performance management to an epiphany that appeared out of nowhere, I was quickly shocked back into reality when Jenna said I had started talking about this “new concept” over 6 months ago.
What I thought happened in an instant was actually months, if not years, in the making. Unfortunately, I think people look at ideal careers the same way I looked at my new idea. They see someone who has an ideal career and think they got there in one or two years. In reality, it took years of struggle and mistakes. As a matter of fact, the 10 years of struggling to find my ideal career is what caused Jenna and I to create the Bulletproof Career Rebellion. I wanted to help people find a more clear and direct path with the community surrounding them to walk the path to their perfect job.
Action point: Schedule a time that you will take the next step in achieving your ideal career. That may come in the form of learning, taking stock of where you are currently (take our Career Growth Index), or by taking concrete steps through our What’s Next 3-day Challenge.
3) My physical activity was at the optimum level.
I really struggled this semester to find my rhythm and balance a physical activity and creative time along with getting all the demands of my university role done. Quite frankly, I haven't done a very good job of it. But this past week I did. I scheduled everything that needed to be done (like I recommend but sometimes forget to do myself) including physical activity.
On one day in particular there wasn't time to exercise, but I did have a phone meeting with one of my great friends and mentors. So I decided to walk during that meeting. Five miles later I had a wonderful stimulating conversation where I learned a lot and got my exercise in. I think physical activity is the secret sauce of high-performance.
Action Point: Schedule your physical activity this week
Please help be part of the solution to changing the physical therapy profession by sharing this post so someone who is feeling burnt out, stuck, or just wants to be engaged in their career can find a little bit of hope and some next steps.