Be Remarkable: random thoughts on earning more income as a rec therapist

 standoutI presented a training last week for recreational therapists on (May 9th) on creating an online course.

I told the attendees that it was a good idea to follow their passion and teach a topic on what they’re passionate about.

I feel like I made a huge mistake.  Following your passion might be the wrong advice to have given the attendees. 

I read Cal Newport’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You last weekend. Newport argues that following your passion is bad advice. 

Newport pointed out that there are a few professional athletes who followed their passion and it paid off big time. However, those people are the outliers. It doesn’t happen to everyone. For the majority of people — that path won’t work. 

My personal experience: I was very passionate about skateboarding as a teenager. Sixteen-year-old me (Danny) wanted to become a professional skateboarder. Of course, I lessened my intensity in improving my skateboarding after dislocating my shoulder in in a skateboarding accident. My skateboarding really decreased when I got my first part-time job working at a Chick-fil-A I’m going on 40 and I’ll probably always love skateboarding culture!

[ah-ha moment/ Light bulb] — Newport argues it is best to become good at a skill that people are willing to pay you to do opposed to following your passions.  Newport argues that you’ll get more freedom to dictate your job when you’ve gained career capitol. 

As a young teenager, nobody was going to pay me to skateboard. The owner of Chick-fil-A did pay me to serve customers. I won their Chick-fil-A leadership scholarship too! 

Newport argues that mediocre work is invisible. It isn’t noticed.  It is often overlooked. Newport cited Seth Godin’s Purple Cow. Brown cows are predictable and boring. A purple cow is… different. It is noticeable. It is something to talk about. Newport summarized that Godin is suggesting that a person must become remarkable in their work. Be different by standing out and being the best. Be remarkable. Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

How does one become great and remarkable?

Newport points out research about the 10,000 hour rule made popular by Malcom Gladwell in his book, Outliers. It takes a person 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to become an expert. This doesn’t mean 10,000 hours of the same repeated behavior. In example, if a person played the same songs on the violin for 10,000 hours. It means pushing yourself to be better during those 10,000 hours.  As a skateboarder, I wasn’t pushing myself after I dislocated my shoulder. I mostly played it safe after the accident by doing smaller tricks that I already knew I wasn’t attempting big tricks like trying to land 180-kickflips off sets of five stairs anymore.

I didn’t follow my passion with skateboarding. 

I realized (in 1999) that organizations would pay me to provide recreational therapy. I learned this after doing volunteer work at a rehabilitation hospital.

I “landed” my first paid position as a recreation therapist in 2002. I’ve been at the same agency since then. I’ve put in 15+ years of practice and I’ve been “pushing” myself to continue to become better than I was each previous year. The 2018 Rec Therapist Danny is a lot more effective compared to the 2002 beginner rec therapist Danny. 

Years (of time) and real effort are two different things. I head a story (a parable) that explained the difference. A boss brought two employees in the office and said he had to lay off one of them.  The employer let the senior employee go. The senior employee argued that he had more (years) of experience than the other guy. However, the employer argued that  (the senior employee) had one year of real experience and he repeated the same year over and over for the next 20 years. He didn’t grow. The new guy hadn’t been there long, but he was continuing to “push” and grow. 

 

In summary, I want to offer two tips for recreational therapists: 

  1. Find a skill or specialty that can earn you money.  Is it something that people would be willing to pay you to do? Work at building your skills in that area. Don’t be a generalist. Be a specialist. Be an expert in something.
  2. Push to become outstanding and remarkable in that one skill. Become an expert at it. In fact,   Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You 
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