In today's world everyone is spending energy and effort trying to outperform one another. Here's my recommendation:
I'm grateful that by following the first, the second became not only apparent, but my north star and the foundation of my professional success and fulfillment. Commonly I get asked what success looks like. I sense the purpose of this question is to discern if my encouragement and insights will produce a meaningful result for them personally in this season of life. Given that my intention is to create action and change within how you see the world, here is my humble way at outlining my success (a mentor of mine always reminds me it's not bragging if you did it!).
First, I created a space to express my zone of genius both clinically and with my coaching. I live each day within my passion and gratitude for that simple opportunity that so few experience. Next, I have complete control of my schedule and therefore margin in life. This margin fuels expansive energy and and allows for discovering new adventure inside and out. Clients who gravitate to me are actively engaged, meaning my energy is spent enhancing their experience and growing and nurturing their well-being rather than passively teaching them what I hope will somehow change their habits. Simply stated, they are committed, engaged and invest in themselves, rather than me. The value of my 'being different' has created a 6 figure income that is 2X what most therapists earn in a year. All while seeing in a week (20 clients) what most therapists treat in a day!
Most people don't believe this possible when I share it in writing - they can't make sense of something so simple in concept making such an exponential impact on my life. So back to the recommendations to build that inner confidence to believe in your self!
You be you.
For me, I have always been curious with a nature toward thinking and knowing (Type 5 - The Investigator for those Enneagram enthusiasts). My list of continuing education courses is both lengthy and diverse to say the least. I sought out challenges that expanded my ability to impact others. Oh and my accountant is amazed when he sees the $10K+ I spend each year traveling and taking courses - but he also knows that it differentiates me in how I have built 2 successful businesses, and how I choose to live life continuously growing in order to contribute to the lives of others.
I value the system of education. I was fortunate to attend USC who year after year rank at the top of graduate PT programs, yet knew there was something more necessary to create fulfillment in my path as a PT. That curiosity translated to the mentors and professional influencers I have made impactful connections with over the last 20 years as well as understanding that more than intellect would elevate who I was becoming. This led to seeing influencers as creators in my joy, and not just the skills that I could acquire. I had to let go of the identity of what knowledge created within me.
I am not a rule breaker, nor a rule follower. In Gretchen Rubin's 4 Tendencies, I fit in the 'Questioner' tendency where one decides for themselves whether a course of action is a good idea, and they resist doing anything that seems to lack purpose. External influences only exist if they are in alignment with how I see or come to see the situation. Discernment is at the forefront of my decisions, my relationships, my work, my opportunities. Remember how I defined my success first in terms of my zone of genius? Living my zone of genius extends beyond self awareness of my skills and interests, but understanding the depths of where my energy is fueled and paying attention to where the opportunities exist for me to live in my purpose every day. Sure, there were a lot of choices I could have made in my 'what's next' moment, but knowing who I am and how to match it with others' needs is what provided the success that continues to this day.
What makes me, me?
Why this matters?
For 20 years 'me being me' simply created clarity in my purpose as a woman and as a physical therapist. What I thought my purpose was 5 years into my career wasn't even close. Not becasue I didn't have a vision or lacked self awareness. Rather becasue I didn't have enough experiences to create the emotions necessary to embody truly knowing.
Being the best isn't the solution. Being different is.
Do you remember the ambition and drive during your final year clinical rotations? And the goal of being board or manual certified within just a few years that you proudly shared during your interview process and at the same time positioning yourself as the 'go to' therapist for ACL rehab in young athletes in your community?
As a senior therapist involved in dozens of interviews to find the best new hire, I can promise you that every single one of those candidates has ambition to stand out and be the best in terms of their skills. But few truly stand out (or know how to convey it). You combine that with the growingly excessive number of opportunities for certifications, specializations and off-springs of one another (just think of all of the variations of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization) and there truly is a challenge in knowing what constitutes the best.
Based off of the number of license holders in the United States (258K+ in 2019), the odds of being the best are quite small. Not that I'm deterring you (remember early I mentioned seeking challenges), but I'm also a realist. And that is where being different comes in. No one else sees life as you do, or how to navigate movement and health needs for clients. Each of us is a special blend of our past, our skills, our knowledge and how we express them. YET, those that embrace being unique in an authentic way, not to sell but rather to find those that truly align with what we offer in who we are and to serve them in the most powerful way.
I'm going to try my best with an analogy of the restaurant business. I'm a bit of a foodie so this I can relate to. As consumers of the food industry can we really determine the best restaurants with any sort of certainty? We all know the answer is no. Even the Michelin Star system doesn't define the best, only whether a restaurant meets specific high standards of excellence or not. But what we can determine as foodies that are engaged and invested in our food experiences are those restaurants that stick out. And those are the ones that we remember, that we share with our friends and family, and that at the top of our list when it's time to get together with a group of people and enjoy ourselves.
Now that I have created a certain amount of hunger for each of us, let's redirect back to the world of physical therapy. Being different for me as a clinician is more than being diverse. It's more that my diversity in experiences allows me see things from a greater perspective of human anatomy and function. It is NOT being the most knowledgeable as I can assure you that there are much more intelligent therapists out there than myself. Yet the variety of approaches to health, the unique lens in which thought leaders share their visions for our professional skill, and the me being me described earlier all blended together create the different way that I share my skills and experience. There simply is no equal. No equal is different. No equal is where you distinguish your value. No equal is where you become memorable. And where you.... LIVE. FEEL. THINK. DIFFERENTLY!