Perspective is a beautiful thing!
That is a phrase I say often. I believe experience is the best teacher in life and now that I have 11+ years in the medical field treating patients ranging from 2 days old to 99 years old and patients spanning the fitness range of Olympic silver medalist and pro football and basketball players to 450 pound person who has never lifted a weight in his life, I’ve learned a few things and would like to share my perspective on being a young medical professional and offer advice to people trying to figure out their passion.
What I’ve learned is linked to my background, so before I get into lessons learned, you’ll need some information on me. I’m Dr Seth Weir and I’m a Chiropractor. Chiropractic is a health profession that looks to help people heal naturally by maintaining a healthy nervous system via proper motion, alignment and function of the body. When you have stress on your body from things like sports injuries, car accidents, or bad posture (just to name a few) it can lead to the body getting out of alignment and cause a restriction of proper motion to a joint. If a car was out of alignment or had parts that were locked up, eventually these underlying issues will create a problem with how the car functions. The human body works the same way. When you have stress on the spine eventually it will cause an issue with the nerves and that will result in the body not functioning the way it was designed. Then the “check engine light” will go off in the form of symptoms. Physical problems require physical solutions. How many Advil would you have to take to restore proper biomechanics? It wouldn’t matter how many you took because Advil isn’t the solution to the problem. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for all medical professionals and I learned this by working side by side with orthopedic doctors and physical therapists. But it is vitally important to find the cause of a problem, not just cover the symptoms. If you tear a ligament or muscle I am not going to fix that-- go to your orthopedic doctor who specializes in that area. But on the flip side, no amount of pills or surgery will restore proper alignment or motion to the body. That is what chiropractors specialize in-- non-surgical methods of healing.
I absolutely love what I do! For me there are not many joys that rival giving someone their life back when they have been suffering from pain/symptoms and not able to do the things they love. Helping them restore health and teaching them how to maintain it is a very rewarding experience. The reason I got into chiropractic was that I was first a patient myself. At the age of 17 my lower back was so tight I struggled to tie my shoes without pain. No amount of Advil, stretches or exercise helped. When a friend suggested I go to a chiropractor I was skeptical, but it all made sense when I saw my x-rays. I had a curvature in my spine, most likely caused by falls on the basketball court and playing sports growing up, and these caused my back to seize up. After a few weeks under chiropractic care I felt like a different person. I’d not only regained my mobility, I’d found my calling. I knew I wanted to help others the same way I had been helped. Which leads me to my first point:
Find something that sets your soul on fire!
It’s said that passion is like the wind in your sails. If you don’t care about what you’re doing you will never be able to sustain it long term. For example, if you made me work in an office cubicle making phone calls all day I would be miserable and unsatisfied. I would have no passion for it. I find joy in interacting with people, educating them over health and inspiring them to take responsibility for their health to live the most abundant life possible. It fires me up when I see a patient get the big idea about health and then do something about it. So find what ever it is for you that fires you up and go pursue it. Everybody has something for which they are uniquely designed to do in this world and the earlier you figure that out the better off you’ll be. Here are two quotes I love that also make this point and that have helped me keep perspective along the way:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go and do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman
“Let the people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it.” -John Eldredge
Once you have found something you are passionate about then consider this next item:
2. Find a WHY bigger than your excuses and fear.
For me I really learned about this principle in medical school. What a lot of people don’t know about Chiropractic school is that it’s comparable to what Medical doctors go through. For me it took about 7 years to complete and we averaged about 30 hours per trimester (a full time student is considered 12 hours). The first few years are comparable education with classes like Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology, but towards the end Chiropractors begin to specialize in classes like Neurology, Spinal Manipulation and Xray Analysis vs the Medical doctors focus more on Pharmacology and Surgery. Total classroom hours for both professions range around 4500-4700. All in all, it’s not for the faint of heart. There were many long days and sacrifices made to complete the task. For Chiropractors, we have to take and pass 4 National Boards to get licensed and it is a undertaking to prepare. By my second and third one my friends began to joke that I would “go into my cave” and they would not see me until I would return in a few months after the test was over. Was it hard...yes! Were there days I wanted to just go do something easier...yes! Would it have been more fun to party with friends and have the traditional college experience...yes! What helped me get through the long days was my dream and vision for eventually helping people the way I had been helped with Chiropractic (AKA my WHY). On those long days I tried to focus on the outcome and the light at the end of the tunnel vs the immediate discomfort of the present situation.
Which leads me to a question that I had to answer, and that you will to: What’s your vision? What do you want your life to look like in 5-10 years? If you can clearly paint that picture of what success looks like for you and have a specific goal for the path you want your life to take, it makes it easier to get through the hard days. Consider this:
“A successful person realizes his personal responsibility for self motivation. He starts with himself because he possesses the key to his own ignition switch.” - Kemmons Wilson
“A dream is what makes people love life even when its painful.” - Theodore Zeldin
In a society that tends to teach us we can blame others, shirk responsibilities until rather late in life, and serve ourselves before others, it’s our responsibility to open our eyes-- as early as possible-- and see that we can take a different path. If we have the courage to take charge of our own dreams and the success those dreams can bring, we set ourselves apart from the competition in our field and we find our why. Once you know your why and commit to it, I’d challenge anyone to stop you or slow you down. They simply won’t be able to do it. The best part is, you don’t have to find your vision, your why, in a vacuum. When defining this vision it’s important to surround yourself with people who support your goals and dreams.
3. Find your Tribe and Mentors.
I’ve heard it said you are the combination of the 5 people you spend the most time around, or as Pastor Mike Santiago at my church puts it, “You show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” The question is, are you surrounding yourself with people that push you to be your best and see what you can become or are you surrounding yourself with people who drag you down and let you be mediocre?
Recently I heard the phase “Be a wolf.” What the author of that phrase meant was surround yourself with a pack of people with the same drive and success mindset that will help propel you to become stronger than you could be on your own. Wolves live in a pack and stick together. Weaker wolves go to the front and the strong stay in the back and push them along; thus, the pack supports each other. Many times when you are beaten down in life it’s good to have a pack of people with the same mindset as you that will lift you up in that time. Wolves can accomplish tasks together that they would not be able to accomplish on their own. A single wolf would not be able to take down an animal many times its size but with its pack it can. Who’s in your pack and what big goals are you trying to accomplish together?
Along with our pack, we all need mentors, even if it means we have to seek out these mentors. Robert Allen reminds us to “Study anyone who’s great, and you’ll find that they apprenticed to a master, or several masters. Therefore, if you want to achieve greatness, renown, and superlative success, you must apprentice to a master.” Find people who are successful in your field and study the tactics that made them successful. Even the best athletes in the world had a coach that could impart wisdom to help them grow. A good mentor will help bring out the best in you by helping to develop your strengths and identifying areas where you need refining. Find the people who can help pull the best out of you, because it boils down to this: “Always dream big dreams. Big dreams attract big people.” - Dave Linger
Even when you have a great tribe and mentors it’s still important to seek knowledge and strive for personal growth.
4. Never stop learning!
I had a mentor explain this scenario about the importance of learning to me. He said, “We are like a river in relation to learning. When you are putting good information in and using it to help others and make an impact, you are like a strong powerful river. When you are not investing in learning and you are giving constantly, you become weaker like a little stream. When you are learning all you can but not using that information to help others or make an impact you become stagnant like a swamp. Go be a river.” Albert Einstein said it a different way. “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” The best leaders in the world are readers and constantly trying to improve themselves. Find the things that you are passionate about and learn as much as you can about them. Not only will this fill you up so you have the energy to get after the success you deserve (which takes energy and hard work), but it will allow you to one day be a mentor to someone else who’s where you are now. Go buy books on the topics that interest you, go to Youtube university and find videos from experts giving advice. Invest in classes. You are your best investment and you are going to grow in the area that you dedicate time and energy. As we go through life it’s easy to look around at another person’s journey and think the grass is greener, but in reality the grass is greener where you water it. Knowledge and learning are your water, and they’ll do wonders for the grass you’re standing on right this very second. The bible even states “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...” In today’s world there is no reason we can’t all continually learn, and when we take the time to learn we can feed ourselves and others.
5. Live with Congruency.
A question to ask yourself is “What is success for me?” For some people it’s a certain amount in the bank account; for others it’s the freedom to do what they want, when they want and with who they want; for others it’s defined by the type of legacy they leave after they are gone. Only you can define what success looks like for you, but ultimately the only way you can succeed in life is to be congruent with your values. Congruency is the state where your actions are in agreement and alignment with how you feel emotionally about the actions. To be true to yourself you must determine what you are about and line up your actions to match up with your values. Anything less will feel fake and insincere.
“Trust is congruence between what you say and what you do.” - Peter Drucker
One of my favorite podcasts, Hardcore History, recently reminded me that calm waters make poor sailers. Although Hardcore History’s host put it more eloquently than I could, that’s a lesson I’d already learned through years of medical school and starting my own business in a world that trains each of us to be experts in our field, but not necessarily experts in business ownership. Finding mentors, staying congruent with your version of success and your personal and career goals, and continually learning aren’t always easy; in fact, they almost never are. But you’ll find that the learning, congruency, and realization of dreams comes from the difficult times, not the easy ones. Although we as humans think we prefer the easy times, we grow, succeed, and become what we’ve always dreamed of being during the difficult ones... if we have the nerve to lean into the difficulties, use them to our advantage, and maybe even take time to enjoy the process.
Dr Seth Weir