Last week I shared with you a summary of a recent Facebook discussion we had regarding what you thought was our most important quality. I Intentionally eliminated knowledge, experience, and technical skill in the discussion, as I was looking for different types of qualities. The response was awesome, and there was a lot of great feedback.
I summarized the top qualities we need to possess at the end of the post. Today, I want to review these qualities again and related them to experts in our fields that do a great job of exemplifying these qualities. Not all of these people are in the rehab or fitness fields, and I haven’t met them all, but each have helped me either personally or through their work. Using these experts as examples will help you learn each of these qualities even more, and hopefully allow you to start working on enhancing these skill sets.
Consider this article an introductory course that we all should of taken in college!
Qualities of Experts that We Should All Possess
If you have’t read last week’s article, go back and read that first. It’s quick but serves as a good introduction into this summary.
Mark Verstegen – Passion and Charisma
Many people know Mark Verstegen as the founder of Athlete’s Performance or one of the Men’s Health experts. While this certainly gives Mark quite a bit of credibility, if you have never had a chance to see Mark in action on the floor with athletes, you have missed the side of Mark that is his most contagious, his passion and charisma. I have had several opportunities to visit Athlete’s Performance, and watching Mark in action is always the highlight. Even though Mark has so many responsibilities and so many coaches at Athlete’s Performance, he spends the day bouncing back and forth between groups of athletes doing what he does best – coaching. He is nonstop all day bouncing all over the place and being involved with everyone at the facility. And this is a good thing, as Mark’s energy, passion, and charisma is contagious. He’s not walking around chit chatting with clients or sipping coffee in his office, he is on the floor impacting.
Take home: If you aren’t passionate about what you do and can’t charismatically show this, your patients and clients are missing a huge source of energy. No matter how big you get or how many people you hire to delegate to, remember that it is your passion and charisma that drives your facility or clinic. These qualities are contagious to your patients and clients.
Ken Crenshaw – Open Mindedness and Humility
Ken Crenshaw is the Head Athletic Trainer of the Arizona Diamondbacks and someone I am proud to have had many chances to learn from. Working in professional sports, your goal is different that many other circumstances. We need to get our athletes out on the field every night and we don’t care how we do this. It can be through manual techniques learned from Mulligan, Maitland, MDT, or anything else. It can be an IASTM technique like Graston or ART. It really doesn’t matter, because it’s not about you, it’s about the athlete. It doesn’t matter if you subscribe to a certain theory or technique. Don’t convince yourself that there is only one way and that you know everything. One thing I know for a fact is that much of what we think we know now will change over time. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. As Crenshaw says, be a mutt. Take in as many different thoughts and perspectives as you can, it will only make your better.
Take home: Don’t have tunnel vision and think there is only one way to skin a cat and everything else is wrong. Be a mutt.
Michael Boyle – Adaptability and the Passion to Always Learn
As many of my long time readers knows, the passion to always learn is one of the qualities I try to promote the most. This goes hand in hand with adaptability. If you are always learning, you better be adapting. This goes back to the above comment that we will probably look back at what we are doing now and have a nice laugh in ten years. Heck, maybe our great great great great grandchildren will laugh at us for the thinking the world was round! There is a big difference between innovating and adapting. Realistically, there aren’t a lot of innovators. There just isn’t going to be another Steve Jobs anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean that adapting is a bad thing. I’m sure there isn’t anything I ever teach that is 100% unique, but rather a combination of adaptions I have made over time. This is a great quality that Michael Boyle possesses. Michael does a great job taking information from a ton of different sources and puts it together in a logical format. This is adaption at it’s finest. Michael also loves to write posts and lecture about what he has learned and mistakes he has made. Again, adaptation at it’s finest, and he isn’t afraid to laugh at himself for what he used to think.
Take home: You don’t always have to try to innovate, adapting is often times just as needed.
Kevin Wilk – Integrate Evidence and Always ask “Why”
Kevin Wilk is a friend, but more importantly a mentor. Over the years, I was a clinical student of Kevin’s, a postgraduate fellow of Kevin’s, and a colleague of Kevin. We have done a lot together over the years and I have always tried to emulate his ability to integrate evidence into our everyday practice. This is where I learned about the power of asking “why.” One goal I have always followed was to always have a rationale behind everything I do, every exercise, every technique, every set, every rep. Push yourself to never do something just because “this is how I have always done it.” For anyone that has attended one of Kevin’s seminar, you know he doesn’t ever stop integrated new evidence. One of the biggest complaints that Kevin and I get from our lectures is that our slides don’t match the handouts. What you probably don’t realize is that the handouts are due weeks to months prior to the course and we both literally update our slides all the time, including on the flight to the seminar!
Take home: Don’t every be satisfied with what we know and do. Don’t stop learning and applying new evidence. Always ask why you are doing everything you do.
James Andrews – Great Work Ethic and Accessibility
Dr. James Andrews could be the most famous sports surgeon to date. He has literally operated on leading athletes in every sport. There are several reasons he rose to fame, and you can’t deny it has a lot to do with skill and people skills. But an often overlooked quality is accessibility. Andrews has made a career by always being accessible. I can’t tell you how many evening, weekends, and even holidays I have had to call him and talk about a patient, and he always answers. His work ethic is also second to none. During my time there, he worked all week, covered a high school football game Friday night, both Alabama and Auburn on Saturday, and then the Redskins on Sunday. He is always on.
Take home: Do you email or text your patients or clients to check in on them? Do you answer the phone when they call? Do you consider yourself “off work” at 5:00? There always needs to be a personal and professional balance, but your work ethic and accessibility are often things that can really help you differentiate yourself.
Dale Carnegie – Good Communication and People Skills
This could probably be one the most important qualities on the list – communication and people skills. This is especially true in service industries like ours. Our biggest referral source is always going to be word of mouth. The better your people skills, the easier this is going to be. One trick I learned from Dale Carnegie (out of many) was to always try to think from the other person’s perspective. People are going to tell you what they want, you just have to stop and listen sometimes. Stop thinking of what you want and focus on what your patient or client wants. This almost always leads to what we want in the end!
Take home: Read Dale Carengie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is the all time classic and a great place to start. When you are done reading it, read it again.
John Maxwell – Positive Attitude
John Maxwell seems to publish a self-help book every other month! While there are some typical leadership books, one particular book that I really learned a lot from was The Difference Maker. As you can guess, the difference maker is our attitude, and can be a positive or negative factor. I’ll admit, I am from the northeast, we tend to focus on the negative. For anyone that watched Seinfeld or listens to sports radio on the Boston area, you know what I am talking about. So thinking negative and speaking negative is common and all around us, and not a good thing. If you come to your clinic or facility with a negative attitude, who else do you think is going to have a negative attitude? That is right, your patients and clients. Attitude is contagious, start a trend of positivity and try your best to not let others around you bring you down.
Take home: Read Maxwell’s The Difference Maker and then make your positive attitude contagious. Leave your bad day at the door.
Joe Ehrmann – Selflessness, Empathy, and Compassion
You can see how qualities are starting to overlap a little bit. Ehrmann, a former collegiate and NFL star, has written, at least in my opinion, one of the most influential books on coaching, InsideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transport Lives. In this book, Ehrmann details his youth and rise through the ranks of football, and everything that went wrong along the way. During this journey he shares how his perspective changed and how influential coaches can be. Don’t be fooled into thinking this book only applies to sport coaches, if you are a therapist, athletic trainer, personal trainer, or strength coach, you are coaching people too. Now if only all the Little League parents and coaches would read this book, perhaps we would have less Tommy Johns on 12 year olds.
Take home: Read Ehrmann’s InsideOut Coaching and reflect on how your interactions with patients and clients aren’t temporary and can impact their lives for years to come. This will certainly make you think about how you “coach.”