One of the biggest parts I believe of a persons work/career/art is where they came from, what is their back story. A big part of my teenage years were spent on a skateboard and idolizing skateboarders like Rodney Mullen. For those of you who are not familiar with Rodney I can only describe him as the Mozart, Einstein or Michael Jordan of skateboarding.
Growing up I lived the middle of nowhere on a dirt road with a small sidewalk in the front of my house. Not the best place to get better on a skateboard, and to be honest I didn’t really get to be all that great. I could do basic tricks but I was not amateur or pro material, but I loved and still do love to be on a skateboard. What living in the country and skateboarding did for me though would have a pretty big impact on my professional life.
Many people have tried to step on a skateboard and what usually happens pretty quick is they fall and they never ride again. Skateboarding is very honest, you can either do the trick or you can’t and if you can’t the feedback can be pretty memorable. The thing I learned to do was to fall, get back up and try again, knowing that trying again could mean I may fall and if I did there it might hurt. But if I wanted to get better I had to accept that failure was a big part of improving my ability.
Something else I had to do in the late ’80’s early ’90’s was learn to independently study and as Rodney mentions in the video break tricks down into small pieces so that I could learn them. We didn’t have YouTube or on Facebook, we had to either watch tricks on videos are try to learn them from magazine trick tips.
As my career has went on I have relied upon these lessons to help improve my ability to help my clients and athletes recover from injuries. More times than I can count I have had a client call with a crazy injury asking if I can help, if it is in my scope of practice I usually respond with “If you are willing to give me a couple of sessions to give it a try I am willing to see what I can do. What’s the worst thing that could happen, we don’t resolve the issues and you move on, but we don’t know if we don’t try.”
I didn’t know if I could Ollie (jump) off a curb, down 3 stairs or from parking lots until I tried. If I didn’t make it I had two choices, get up and try again or admit I didn’t posses the skill and move on. The same thing applies to when working with my clients, I either have the skill or I don’t and I am comfortable with both. The other parallel between the two is early on in my skateboarding practice I didn’t have the skill but as I practiced my ability improved and I became successful with a trick that gave me fits before. Early on in my massage career it would take me 3-4 hour long sessions to get done what I am able to do in 30 min today.
Lastly skateboarding made me comfortable being an outsider, not following the popular opinion and to search for people who are trendsetters and innovators. Those of you who have come into my office or have worked with me, you know that what I do is about as close to “traditional massage” as skateboarding is to football.
If you have 15 min take a look sit down, grab a cup of coffee and listen to Rodney as he talks about his process and life as one of the great innovators of skateboarding. I think it will inspire you as much as it did me.
Practice Makes Improvement 🙂