Advice to a Younger Generation

I’ve had my fair share of jobs and hobbies that have allowed me to communicate and interact with many people from many different backgrounds. From making a breakdancing club in college to stop us from getting kicked out of hallways, to helping people shed weight at the local wellness center, I’ve dabbled in all types of workplaces with all types of personalities as well. Some people are complacent with where they are, and that is perfectly fine. But you’re different – full of energy, but no true outlet. You want to achieve something great, but at what sacrifice? Here are some key tips to help prepare you mentally as you make your decisions.

Think a lot. Speak little.

Assess the territory and observe. Figure out who the dominant personality types are, what makes them tick and how things really work. Don’t act and don’t give your own personal opinion. When you understand the lay of the land, then you can begin to get to work. There will always be more than one way to act on any given situation, so make sure you take the right decision. Figure out what is right, and what is wrong, then decide your course of action from there. Taking the right action, and then taking that initiative is crucial.

Do not be afraid to ask questions… at the right times.

The cliche that “there is no stupid question” doesn’t seem to ring true to my own beliefs. In the right context, there are no “stupid” questions. If the answer is there, plainly given to you in video format with PDF handouts, and you attempt to ask a question that doesn’t expand upon the subject matter at hand… then that cliche may be debatable. Before I’ve asked any question, I make sure I exhaust any and all resources at hand. Granted, I will need to watch a video or read a textbook more than once, twice, or even three times, but if something doesn’t sit right about the topic, then I will ask the appropriate questions.

Frame the question in the right context… at the right time. This is called tact. For the male readers here, learning to be well-adjusted and sane is paramount when talking with the females. Unless of course, you’re name is George Clooney.

I don’t get how you do it either George.

Connecting with humans.

I played baseball before… and I stopped when I was 12 years old. After a ground ball had decided to pop up on the lip of the infield and hit me in the mouth, I decided I was done with baseball. And yes, to make matters worse, I had braces – with no mouthguard.* I never wanted to think about baseball again, or at least attempt to play it in any competitive manner. Add to the fact that I had terrible hand-to-eye coordination growing up, and I can safely say that I wasn’t destined to be the next big league slugger.

Play me on the CP Ping-Pong table you’ll see why I’ve had glasses since I was 9 years old.

Does this make connecting with an 85% majority population of baseball players facility any more difficult? Just a little bit, but it doesn’t stop me from talking with the high school athletes on how awesome Breaking Bad is, or asking the locales about hot spots in Beantown that I should visit in the near future. But now I can honestly say I know the mechanics of throwing a baseball a little better, the causes of major injuries in baseball, along with how to train around many of them. I’ve had 14 and 15 year old pitchers teach me how to throw a curveball, and I finally understand the fascination with throwing sinkers.

What is the common factor that connects me to such awesome athletes and coaches? Is it the fact that my baby face can still pass for a high schooler any day? Or the fact that I share a similar love of techno, trance, and old school hip-hop with one of our coaches? I’d attribute it to understanding what it means to create a family atmosphere to increase the motivation and success of everyone that passes through those doors.

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The answer is yes, I can still pass for a high schooler, and yes I really do love techno and hip-hop one in the same. But in reality the factor that connects me to these athletes is my love for helping guide people with what knowledge I’ve gained over the years. I’d also attribute it to understanding what it means to creating a community atmosphere to increase the motivation and success of everyone that passes through those doors. We all have insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams. I’m sure if you ask any collegiate baseball athlete, they will say that they would love to get drafted during or after their college career. I feel the same way about wanting to be an extra in any modern kung fu flick – *I’ve been training my whole life to get hit in the face for multiple takes, haven’t I?

In all seriousness, understanding that people have fears and hopes about their future, and the understanding that taking action and owning your responsibility over those feelings can affect ones outcome greatly – for baseball players, it may be working with someone who understands the intricacies and asymmetries of the sport, understanding what it means to take care of your bodies, and knowing when to shut it down pitching wise. On the end of a strength and conditioning coach’s job, it is understanding that yes, performing this stretch or exercise is good for you, and that no, straight bar bench pressing 225 for reps may not be the best exercise for you as an overhead athlete.

Delete the words “I can’t” and replace it with “I’ll find a way.”

In regards to having the right mindset, this is huge. I literally do not remember the last time I said “I can’t do/go to/help/etc XYZ”… Many other, smarter people than me have said this before my time, and I gave in not too long ago to give it a try… and I quickly found out how powerful this mindset change can be for anyone. In reality, that mentality of “I’m going to do it anyway, despite what people say” was formerly a rebellious attitude of mine (probably some form of teenage angst) but first starting with breakdancing (people said I should not spin on my head, or do flips – look at me now mom!**), and more recently jumping at almost every opportunity that seems to help increase my knowledge on the human body. “I can’t wake up that early. That is my day to sleep in.” Or how about, “I can’t sacrifice my time in order to read this book/seek out smarter people than me (that will help increase my understanding of the human body).” Granted, some of the things that I’m striving for are things that I did not believe I could do. So that annoying voice in your head when lifting, the flight or fight response, saying “I can’t lift this weight.” should be replaced with “I’ll lift this weight… if not today, then soon enough.”

Work efficiently.

This is in regards to what happens outside of the workplace. Oh, you thought that when 5pm hits, our job is done and all the coaches go to Happy Hour and order the 50-cent wings and beer? No, not quite. We just order the 50-cent wings.

When the doors close at any training facility, that is when the real fun begins. From watching DVDs, seminars, in-services, and reading books such as Anatomy Trains, or Muscles: Testing and Function, the truth is that the work is far from over. In this regard, understanding on what to read, how to read it effectively, and how to best cover your weaknesses as a student are key to advancing yourself.

My 2011 Christmas presents: A sleepmask to help me sleep after I crush those Mr.Goodbars…! Oh and yes: anatomy books.

When I had heard that Bruce Lee could often be seen doing static stretches, watching TV, bouncing his kid on his lap on one side, and with one hand holding a book (while reading), doing bicep curls with the other, my mind was blown. I started to imagine the possibilities of doing more than one thing at a time – I can balance on one foot while brushing my teeth to increase my balance. I can listen to podcasts while driving home from work. I can practice my language skills (counting from 1-10 for starters) in Spanish, German, and French while watching form for clients. (Still working on German.) Afterwards, I was always infatuated with multi-tasking, and after years of convincing myself I was awesome at it, I finally admitted that yes, I am terrible at doing more than one thing successfully. I wasn’t able to focus intently on the main goal – whether it is being fully aware of a clients’ imbalances, or being upright while I brush my teeth (not saying I haven’t fallen – yet).

So to be more specific, efficiency in general describes the extent to which time or effort is well used for the intended task or purpose. For example, I love watching Breaking Bad and/or Walking Dead on Netflix while working on my kettlebell swing, foam rolling or self-myofascial release, or doing handstand push-ups like a boss. They just seem like good times to work on my hip hinge pattern, yaknamsayin?

In closing, these are all just a few awesome ways to help a younger generation adjust to any given scenario, and how to take action and plan out their own future as well. There have been others down the same roads you have been – all you have to do is seek them out.

On that note, if anyone has any questions or comments, whether it is on how to do a backspin, or how to lift heavy things, e-mail, Tweet at me, or even you know, comment down below!

**For the record, my mom actually doesn’t like watching me flip and spin all over the place, but she loves when I’m dancing normally! True story.

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