Straight Roads Are Boring

I’ve never met a client who has said, “I hope there a lot of twists and turns, unexpected things, and major setbacks in our work together.”

Everyone wants a straight road.  Full speed ahead to Recoveredville.

I know I do.

The road to Recoveredville is anything but straight.

Straight roads are boring though. If you don’t believe me, come on down to Texas. Plenty of long, straight, dry, dull roads. Drive a few of them and you’ll see what I mean.

But to be excited about setbacks is just not normal. No one is going to look at the unexpected ups and downs of a rehab program as, “Wow, this is fun!”

If you go into a rehab process, though, thinking that 1) progress will be fast and 2) you’ll never have a setback, you’ll be disappointed, frustrated, and likely angry.

Try to think of the rebuilding your knee, hip, shoulder, or whatever area of your body that’s injured, as a project instead of a “treatment”.

And like any significant project, it takes time and usually longer than you think it will.

I learned something from a wise man a few years ago, Tim McClure – the mastermind behind the “Don’t Mess with Texas” anti-litter campaign. He told me that a secret to building almost anything is to make a little bit of progress each day.

Just show up and do one small thing to push the needle forward.

It’s one of the most difficult things to do.

Why? Because when you’re working on one small thing, like getting your quadriceps to contract, it can feel so far away from the end point, running again or hiking or playing a sport, that you start wondering if things will ever get better or if you’ll even finish.

You worry you’ll be stuck right where you are…forever.

Metrics help. Even if the metrics are small things.

When I met Jo (not her real name), she was recovering from a below the knee amputation of her left leg. I was her first visit to rehab.

Sitting slumped in a wheel chair about three feet from me with her husband standing next to her, Jo wouldn’t look at me. She stared at the ground.

I said, “Jo, how can I help you?”

I waited. It was a while before Jo said anything.

She let out a long sigh and then said, “You know, I just want to get my own clothes. I want to walk to the closet and pick out the clothes I’m going to wear so I don’t have to ask my husband to do it for me.”

I said, “We can do that Jo. Let’s talk about where we should start.”

Together we started a list of things Jo needed to be able to do. It was a list of markers. Small metrics. She had to be able to stand in one place without help and recover from small bumps and nudges. She had to stand on just her  left leg for 10 seconds. She had to move on and off her left leg with control.

It turned into a long list.

And off we went.

Jo worked her tail off. She not only got her clothes out of the closet but she played golf and danced.

In the end, it really all comes down to what you believe. Do you believe you can overcome the bumps, curves, and obstacles of rehab road even if the timeline is long and arduous? Or will you pine for the straight road that asks nothing of you and gives you even less in return?

I believe people can overcome enormous barriers if they will believe in themselves. Maybe I’m wrong but then again, what if I’m not?

I’ll leave you with this…

What do you believe?

That’s all I have for now.

Thanks for reading.



PS – If you’re interested in what I do for exercise and training, go here. For my books, go here

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