As a Sports Therapist life is tough. Most people don’t know what a Sports Therapist is. Most people associate what we do as Physiotherapy or Sports Physio. But we’re not allowed to advertise as Physiotherapists. This is a tough place from where to start a business! As such I’ve had to learn my occupation and build my business the hard way.
I bumped into an old client the other day who said I was a “success.” This was a novel idea to me! I considered what she was saying and considered the journey to date and had to concede that it was a success. This is the first time in 12 years this had occurred to me.
So being your caring, sharing, Sports Therapist I thought I’d share with you some very useful lessons I’ve learnt along the way so you can benefit from my experiences. No extra charge, that’s just the kind of guy I am! Do I genuinely think I’m a success. I typical British fashion I would never be so bold as to say so. But certainly I feel more of success now than ever before. Here’s how my story can hopefully help you, dare we use the word inspire?
Why Would I Want To Be A Physiotherapist?
Being a Physiotherapist makes life easier. Firstly Physiotherapy jobs actually exist. On the whole Sports Therapy jobs don’t. It’s getting less of a problem but certainly that was the case 12 years ago when I qualified. Many Sports Therapists faced with frustration and unemployment end up having to do a Physiotherapy degree to be able to get a job.
So in the summer of 2004 I apprehensively took the only available option to myself and set up my first Sports Injury Clinic. Then we run into the next problem. How do you compete with an industry that has the protected title of what people are searching for? If you’ve got an injury you go for Physio right? My clients still refer to our sessions as Physio appointments. After 12 years I’ve given up correcting them!
If you’re searching on Google you type in Physiotherapist or Physio, maybe Sports Physio – but not many people type Sports Therapy. In fact ten times less. But it’s not my nature to worry about such things. Using my spheres of influence model I chose to concentrate on only the things I could control and make myself the best therapist I could possibly be.
For those who are reading this and still don’t know the difference between Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy you may wish to refer back to this previous article: Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy: Do You Know The Difference?.
Fast forward 12 years and I’m still on that journey. Everything else has taken care of itself from this simple decision. I now receive about one Physiotherapists’ CV a week asking me to take them on and train them up. A great boost for my ego but how does my ‘success’ help you become more successful?
The 7 Life Lessons Of The Previously Wannabe Physiotherapist…
1. Control What You Can Control And Don’t Worry About The Rest
See previous section. There is little point worrying about things that you can have no influence on. In fact I would suggest that is a great way to build up anxiety and mental issues. Do what you can. Trust in your judgement. But be prepared to change that judgement. Which brings me onto the next point…
2. Be Flexible In Your Thinking
This is massive. If I was still thinking and acting the same way as I did back in 2004 I’d be bored, bankrupt or both! My original plan was to build up a client base from flyer dropping. I’d scientifically worked out the cost and spoken to many people on expected return rates. I’d even done a spreadsheet of how this would grow the business. I booked 1 client, from 20,000 leaflets – and they didn’t turn up!
It’s the same with the more technical aspects of the job. If I’d have seen the way I work today 12 years ago I’d have thought I was insane! If I’d have carried on doing what I believed to be right 12 years ago I’d still only be doing Sports Massage. I’d have missed out on a vast amount of knowledge, techniques and approaches that go far beyond any basic training. And missed out on ‘fixing’ so many people that had tried everything else before.
3. It’s OK To Get Things Wrong
By the very definition of perfection it is not possible to get everything right all the time. I have finally accepted it’s not possible to fix everyone. It still annoys when I can’t, which drives me on, but we learn from these moments and move on.
4. It’s OK To Be Different
I always wanted to be normal. Then I realised I was and figured it was pretty dull! It’s great to question the accepted norm in anything life. Just because it’s been done for so long doesn’t mean it necessarily right.
In Physiotherapy if you take the example of ultrasound which was for a long time widely accepted as “the” treatment of choice. If you look back at the original research from the 60’s it has been shown to be flawed. In many cases funded by the companies that were selling the machines!
Challenge what is out there and come up with your own truth based on your experience. Respect everything that has gone before and be guided by it. But don’t be constrained or limited by it.
5. Pass On What You Have Learned
Most of the galaxy know that I’m a massive Star Wars geek. Fellow geeks will have noticed the Yoda quote here in the title. It maybe that I’ve been watching the films since I was 8 but it just really strikes a chord with me.
I take great enjoyment about learning new things. Being your classic therapist personality type I want to help other people – even sometimes to the detriment of myself (fellow therapists watch out for that one!). Maybe I watched too much idealistic Sci-Fi as a child but surely together we’re stronger?
My Yoda side includes articles like these, training my therapists, inspiring other people to better their life. Is it all completely selfless? No. But if people get caught in the cross fire of what I’m trying to do with my life in a positive way then all the better.
6. Keep At It
This is almost an expansion of point three. It’s not whether you get things wrong or things go badly. It’s how you respond when they do. It’s very easy to play the victim. “Whoa is me” and all that. But the thing is if there’s something wrong with your life there is only one person who can do something about it. They are currently eyes front reading this. Accountability is the word. And I think it’s hugely overlooked in modern society.
7. Congratulate Yourself Now And Then
And finally the hardest one. As I mentioned it was a chance meeting being called a success that has lead to this blog. We all know we should congratulate ourselves but we rarely do. I am massively guilty of always obsessing about what still needs to be done. You should see my pages and pages of to do lists! Recently becoming a father has enabled me to take a step back and look a little bit more retrospectively at what I have a achieved. I’m trying to congratulate myself, but being British it’s not easy!
I recently found an old sheet of A4 where I’d written my life goals on back in 2012 when I first set up the Brighton clinic. I’d been reading some business thing and it said you were more likely to achieve your goals if they were written down. I went through each item and I’d managed to achieve about 80% of everything on the list. Obviously I’m now focusing on the 20% I hadn’t achieved but it was a lovely moment. I’m just trying to find time to redo my next objectives on the next sheet of A4.
Do I still want to be a Physiotherapist?
No. Am I proud of where I’ve got to? Yes. Am I the finished article? No, but then who is? Maybe that’s the perfectionist within talking – I do try to suppress the perfectionist within where possible to keep my sanity at an even keel! Have I finished the journey? No. But I’m very much enjoying the ride. I suggest you do too.