Sitting here studying for my last written test of my formal education, I probably spent more time reflecting on how I got to this point the past few days than I have actually studying. Well not actually, but a lot! I have been in university for 6 years now and it has been quite the journey that is coming to an end in one week. I will be writing my National Physiotherapy Competency Exam on July 14th that once completed (and passed!) means I can begin my career in physiotherapy.
I came into university an awkward little dude (see pic below), weighing a whopping 150 pounds, and with an idea of what I wanted to do, but no focus or direction to get there.
Now weighing in at ~210 I am about to leave university confident, focussed, and ready to make an impact on the world in a positive way. I have a lot of people to thank for getting me to this point….I mean A LOT! It would be a whole post on it’s own full of Thank you’s! Upon my reflecting though, there are 6 lessons I learnt along the way that I want to share with you guys and hopefully you can find something in them that resonates with you or your views.
1. Be Kind to Everyone You Meet
I put this number one because I not only believe this is vital for success in everything, but its also one of the foundations of humanity. If we all work towards making this world a better place then we will all reap the benefits.
I always tried to be kind to everyone I encountered regardless of background. Whether you’re a Jock, a Bro, a Hipster, a Bookworm, or any other title you would fall under; there is no reason to pre-judge ANYONE and not give them the benefit of the doubt. Be the person to talk to the quiet guy in the corner. Be the person to help the first year student with a problem when they are in need. Be the person to say “Have a good day!” And finally (my favorite), be the person who smiles every time you see someone, even if they are a complete stranger. All these things make a difference and even if someone isn’t kind back at least you tried to instill some good human spirit into the world. More times than not, your kindness will pay off and you will surround yourself with people that are kind in return. This will make your life easier, more enjoyable, and more fun!
2. Work Harder Than Everyone Else
I hope for everyone that has met me in the past 6 years the one thing they would say about me is…. “Damn, that guy works his @$$ off!” It is something I believe is a vital quality if you want to be successful. Do you think you are working hard? Well I don’t know who is reading this right now, but either way there is a good chance someone else is working harder and getting further ahead than you. Don’t settle for mediocrity.
In undergrad, I worked 30+ hours a week at some points on top of a full course load and some other volunteer commitments. In my masters program, I was able to balance ~15-20 hours a week working in the gym on top of everything the program throws my way and countless hours of extra curricular education. Now there are many people that work even harder than I do out there, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try to my best to get on or above their level on a daily basis. You have to want to be the best at what you do. I’m lucky to have this internal drive, but if you don’t then find something that motivates you. I watch this video about once a week and really focus on it’s message.
“Most of you say you want to be successful, but you don’t want it BAD! You just kind of want it. You don’t want it badder than you want to party. You don’t want it as much as you want to be cool. Most of you don’t want success as much as you want to sleep!”
I love that quote! Find something to kickstart you and if you can’t find anything to ignite your fire than you probably aren’t doing what you truly love.
3. Do What You Love
Well that transitioned nicely didn’t it? Coming out of high school into a Physical and Health Education program I often got questions like, “Why would you go into that when you have the grades to get into business or engineering?” The answer was easy, I had NO interest in those areas! Why would I go to school to learn about stuff that I have no drive to care about? I’d rather shoot myself in the face than look at an excel spreadsheet all day or learn about polynomials and functions.
I wanted to train athletes and also work on the rehabilitation side of things when returning people from injuries. So thats what I set out to do, thats what I’m currently doing, and my official career is about to start in a short few months. I can’t imagine working 9-5 at some office job, slaving over a computer just to pay the bills. However, you get me out on the gym floor with a physiotherapy table and I could be ecstatically happy working from 7 am to 8 pm. I LOVE IT! Find what you love and strive to succeed at it! When you are doing what you love, it doesn’t even feel like work and you won’t have to work a day in your life.
Obviously we can’t all be pro athletes, rockstars, professional video game players, get paid to act like we are on the Jersey Shore, or be a celebrity like the Kardashians for doing nothing. Someone has to fill in to those office jobs and that will be most of us. However, in those situations you only really have to work 40 hours a week and hopefully you at least enjoy what you are doing. Now, if you sleep a good 8 hours a night, there are still 72 hours in your week outside of work you could be doing what you love. Cook, play music, play sports, spend time with your partner, and laugh with friends. Do whatever brightens your day and do it as much as you can. Fill your life with enjoyment and you will be happy for the rest of your life.
4. Formal Education is NOT The Be All and End All
Now I do not want to get too political here, but basically I think formal education dished out by universities is…..well, LAME. Now don’t get me wrong, the past 6 years at Queen’s University were absolutely AMAZING for me. I couldn’t imagine having a better 6 year experience anywhere else and I am extremely happy I came here on a daily basis! However, I think there are some problems with the system and perceptions of formal education.
I could write a whole 10 pages ranting about formal education. Trust me, I just wrote about a page and realized with the amount I had left more to say I better just cut ranting out of the equation all together before I bore you to death. So I am going to summarize my thoughts for this lesson in a few statements/comments.
- It doesn’t matter what school you go to. No school is better than any other school. The best education comes from your inner drive to become educated…not from somebody forcing education upon you.
- Please, please, please don’t think that what you just learnt in school is FACT and everything else is WRONG. That is a bunch of baloney. In fact, there is a better chance what you just learnt in school was WRONG and what the person with years of experience is telling you is basically FACT. Especially when it comes to Fitness, Strength and Conditioning, or Rehabilitation. Often research can be 5-10 years behind the times of actual best practice. So if research is telling you something you think may be important, check to see what is commonly practiced. There is a good chance most professionals have moved past that issue and found a solution that works for them.
- I learnt more real life applicable information during my 4 month internship at Athletes’ Performance Los Angeles than I did in 6 years of formal education. I can say this without even having to think twice about it. However, isn’t that just ridiculous??? 4 month internship > 6 years of classes. Wow. What is that saying about our education system setting us up for work? Get real life experience…it’s better basically EVERY time.
- Don’t ever stop learning. You are going to leave school and trust me….you KNOW NOTHING! If you think you know anything special then maybe you should re-read that last sentence 100 times until you then feel like you know nothing. Then you are set for success. Once you think you are smart…that’s when it comes crumbling down. Don’t be smart, keep working harder than everyone to better yourself and the industry you end up in.
5. Live a Balanced Life
I still remember one of my first nights in University. If you went to Queen’s, it was the night we went to Existere. For those unfamiliar with Existere it is a large play put on every year at Queen’s for incoming first year students. It is a comedic musical show that has many different skits telling stories about what they could expect in their first and future years of university. Now there was one scene that stuck with me the most. To be honest it is what I used as the basis for my life philosophy for the past 6 years.
I will summarize the scene, for I know I won’t be able to do it justice with an in depth explanation. Basically there were 5 actors up on stage. Each one represented a different type of lifestyle that university students could fall into.
- The Academic. Who puts in 15 hour days of class and studying. They barely do anything else besides study, eat, and sleep. Being lucky to get in the last 2 if they can even pull themselves away from the books.
- The Partier. This is the person who parties 4 days/week, no matter what the week. They sleep in until noon everyday, eat a greasy breakfast, have a nap, and are rarin’ to go do it all again later that night. They push aside academics, get to the gym occasionally if they are lucky, and are too caught up in the next party to have work/volunteer commitments.
- The Workaholic. This is the person who just loves to work/volunteer! They may not get the best grades, but they were the manager of 3 clubs, had 4 volunteer positions, and worked a full time job on top of school….if they even had time to go!
- The Love Lost Soul. This is the person who gets so caught up in their relationship that nothing else matters AT ALL. They may go to class, may work a bit, may go to the gym occasionally, but this person’s life revolves around being in a relationship. They put all their energy into it, but they forget about themselves and progressing their life forward as an individual.
- The Fitness freak. This person’s life revolves around their sport/gym/fitness time. Skip class to do some curls? “No biggie.” Club meets at the same time as pick up basketball everyday? “Can’t participate in that club then!” Girlfriend? “Heck, I don’t have time for that, I gotta maintain these guns…..”
The whole point of this scene was to show you shouldn’t get wrapped up in just one part of life! Live a balanced life. Study hard, enjoy yourself, get involved in work/volunteering, fall in love, and of course get to the gym! Sure sometimes it’s not going to be perfectly balanced, but even just being aware of this model can be life changing. I know it was for me. Take a look in the mirror and see how your life is balancing out. If it’s not where you want it to be to get what you want out of life….you might have to do some readjusting.
6. Read Something
Now if you would have told me this graduating from high school I would have started rolling on the floor in laughter (ROFL if you will) and returned to my couch to play some Super Smash Bros (Sick game!!). My parents probably have the biggest smile on their faces knowing I am writing about this now from my hatred of reading growing up. You win parents! You win! Now a days, if I’m not in the gym working with athletes or for myself, there is a good chance I’m reading something productive.
Sitting in class listening to professors chatter away about how to transfer old ladies from their hospital bed to the toilet? Nope, I’m probably busy reading Tony Gentilcore’s hilarious blog post of the day or maybe learning about shoulder biomechanics from Mike Reinold.
Come home and watch 3 episodes of Entourage? Nope, not happening. Sure you should take some time to clear the mind and enjoy a show or movie every once and a while, but the amount of times I hear people complain about being busy and then bragging about how they just watched a whole season of a show over the weekend makes me shake my head! Guess what? You weren’t busy and if you thought you were, you have no idea of what the word busy even means. I am lucky that I have something I love to keep me focussed and always searching for more information. However, this lesson applies to everything. If you don’t have something that drives you like this, read the news, read a novel, read a magazine, read blog posts, read ANYTHING! Seriously, it is more productive than watching re-runs of the Simpsons.
The past 6 years have been an incredible ride. Thank you to everyone I have met a long the way, it was a pleasure getting to know you and I hope to stay in contact with you down the road! Be kind, work hard, never stop educating yourself, and most importantly………. have FUN while you’re doing it!