This was no ordinary phone meeting. I thoroughly enjoyed it. What I thought was going to be another phone call about performance systems with a professional sports team turned out to be an engaging conversation about how to improve culture in an organization through your hiring process and through personnel development. But it ended in the most unusual way. I will never forget it.
“Phil, I know you are busy and I have already taken 45 minutes of your time, but can I ask one final question.... What books are you reading or what have you currently read that you would recommend?"
WOW! I was floored. This guy is at the top of his profession and was asking me what books I am reading. I told everyone I knew about this conversation and the question at the end. I am a huge subscriber to the leaders are readers concept. But this took my perspective to another level. I even discussed this question with my mentor. Why was this question so impactful to me?
1. The question showed humility
“Forty-seven days left!” she yelled after me.
Gosh, that felt good to hear. The day had been terrible and in attempt to restore some hope, one of my fellow teachers reminded me of the number of days until summer. But, I wasn’t just counting down days until summer, I was counting down my remaining days as PE teacher.
I shook my head as a mixture of happiness and sadness washed over me. I couldn’t wait to go back to PT school, but I didn’t want to leave the amazing people I had met while teaching. Deep down though, I knew leaving was the right choice.
The initial excitement of teaching had worn off and I found myself getting bored and frustrated faster. Playing games with my students and fellow teachers was fun, but I wasn’t sure if this was the career path for me. I didn’t feel challenged and was ready to try something new.
It seemed like everyday these feelings of dissatisfaction and wanting to leave kept...
One of my first jobs was as a banquet server for Marriott. I was only two weeks into the job when I was given a hundred dollar tip. I must have been destined for prosperity. I must have been a savant server. I must have avoided the learning curve of a new job. You’d think so, but the motive behind the tip was no where close to any of those things...
It was time for the sauce. A white creamy sauce for the chicken, a deep red wine sauce for the filet mignon and a clear broth for the sea bass. I loved the sauce part because it meant the hardest part of delivering the plates of food was done. The trays were so heavy that I couldn’t even smile while carrying them because I was so focused on not dropping them. But, the hardest part was over and each wedding guest had their desired meal sitting in front of them.
I asked each guest at the table if they would like me to drizzle sauce over their meal (and yes, drizzle- that was the official technique I...
She came in with this overflowing folder. Pages were sticking out of the sides and she had to rearrange it twice to prevent all of the contents from falling onto the floor.
“What’s that??,” I asked. I didn’t really want to know, but there was no way to pretend that the folder didn’t exist.
“IT’S MY POEMS!” she proclaimed.
Then I remembered that we had talked about how she wrote poetry during our last session. She had made me copies so that I could take them home and read them. There must have been forty pages and I could tell she expected me to read them before she came back at the end of the week.
For the rest of the week, after finishing my documentation, I read her poems. I wish I was lying when I say that I was annoyed by the task. Annoyed that she would expect me to read what was basically a book of nearly a hundred poems. Annoyed that I wouldn’t be able...
Instant panic. I woke up suddenly and immediately thought we are not ready! We are NOT ready! I knew there were still so many things to be done. Even if we finished them all, there was no way they were all going to work out correctly.
I exchanged emails with Jenna conveying my utter terror. She agreed, which offered no comfort. We weren’t ready.
Knowing that she felt the same, I sent an email asking if we should put it off another week or two. Then we’d be ready. Yeah, two weeks sounded a lot better.
But, she disagreed declaring, "We can’t put it off. We have to do this now!" Although I didn’t want to, I begrudgingly gave in and got to work.
Most would say I am at the pinnacle of my career. I am blessed to be able to consult with professional sports teams, businesses, and the US military. I’ve gotten to be on research teams who have changed the way we look at injury reduction in military and sport. But in spite of this apparent success from an...
I don’t like running. I don’t find it as enjoyable as some do. It is drudgery. It’s boring. It is monotonous. It seems to have no purpose. You run and end up right back where you started. Worse than running is running on a treadmill — talk about a rat on a wheel! The only reason I run is because of the fitness results it produces. But, that all changed this month. I ran (well jogged really and some would probably describe it as plodding) the first 5K I have ever enjoyed. I had a blast! Here is why this run was different.
I ran with purpose
I wasn’t running this weekend to achieve a goal or to get a good workout. I was running to support the son of a friend of ours who has cancer and is being treated at St. Jude in Memphis. The race this weekend was to support all of the great work that St. Jude does for children as well as community support for our friends. Having this purpose completely changed my perspective on running. It was no longer...
- Running had no purpose to me, until now.
I don’t think there is a job that exists that doesn’t have parts of it that people loath. In the case of physical therapists, it is documentation. I have never met anyone who said, “I really like that aspect of the job.” Yet, somehow there are therapists who find fulfillment in spite of this awful task. In the previous post, we talked about how having a purpose can help you get through the inevitable low spots in your career. Having a great purpose can also help you see through the mundane aspects of your job.
Larger Sense of Meaning
We tend to seek enjoyment and excitement at our work, but maybe we should instead be seeking purpose. In his book, Great at Work Morten Hansen describes his research on passion, purpose and work performance. He defines passion as “the feeling of excitement about your work” and purpose as “a sense that you are contributing to others and that your...
- You may change your mind about scheduling your next meeting.
Phil finished telling the story by nonchalantly stating “It happens.” I was in disbelief to how matter-of-factly he said it.
“It DOESN’T happen,” I argued.
Earlier that morning I received a text from Phil stating, “Well, I had a Plan B in case it was noisy in my office for filming, but not a Plan C in case….” The text preview was cut off and my next patient had just arrived so I left the phone and planned to answer when I had a chance.
Phil was supposed to film that day so that I could then edit the footage for the course, Bulletproof Career Rebellion, that we are working on. From the sound of the preview, there was some sort of complication with filming. When lunch came, I opened up the text and immediately knew there was no Plan C for this:
While getting a standard oil change, his car was backed through the waiting room that he was sitting in.
- Sometimes the lows in our career can actually provide the best insight
It is April and Southern Indiana is blowing up with blooming trees, flowers, pollen...but today was back to more cold, wind, and snow flurries. YUCK! This spring I had the opportunity to spend some time away from the cold in the Caribbean, FL, and Phoenix. It was amazing, but the stark contrast in the weather has made this protracted winter even more disheartening. In a similar way, our career can have these same dreary and frustrating times as well.
As I look back at my career over the past 20 years, I now recognize the peaks and valleys were as predictable and cyclical as the seasons. Those valleys held lessons for me. Lessons that would ultimately guide me through and to a career that I love. What lessons have I learned?
Valleys Provide Perspective
While I get discouraged after a prolonged winter, I find hope in spring and summer. It is easy to see this predictability in the seasons, but why do we...