Finding your passion: What do you want your legacy to be?

This past weekend I had the pleasure of heading up to Vancouver, Canada to lecture at the NSCA Vancouver Seminar with a great group of presenters. On Sunday, my friend and colleague, Nick Winkelman, and I stayed an extra day to do a few lectures to a group of University students up there who are all aspiring strength coaches, physical therapists, personal trainers, etc. Both days were great and it is always good to be a part of an event where other greater presenters are talking about things they are passionate about.

In lecturing to the students on Day 2 one of the main things I wanted to convey to them, before getting into my topic, was the importance of going on the journey of finding what they are passionate about. Nick discussed similar things and we actually talked about this over dinner one night with another friend/colleague, Dr. Greg DuManoir, professor of Exercise Physiology and University of British Columbia – Kelowna. Nick and I started in the field around the same time and I lived in Phoenix while he was developing his approach to training at, what was then, called Athletes’ Performance now called Exos. He said over dinner that he thought it was interesting to see the paths that both of us took from trying to start out as strength coaches and figure what is important in the field and in our respective systems to ultimately finding the topic(s) we are most passionate about and then doing a deep dive into those topic. I couldn’t agree more. Nick’s comment was, “In this field, I believe it is important that people go through the process of obtaining knowledge and being generalists in all things general – exercise physiology, biomechanics, coaching, nutrition, etc – and then, as they grow, find out what they are most interested in and become specifically focused on that.”

I got many questions from students that weekend centered around, “What should I do when I graduate?” Most were unsure if they wanted to go to more school, go to physiotherapy school, try and be a strength coach, go to massage school, etc. My answer is always the same, “I don’t know what you want to do or what you love to do so I can’t answer that for you.”

The statement I always make is:

  1. Know what you know.
  2. Be great at what you know.
  3. Know what you don’t know.
  4. Know enough about what you don’t know that you can surround yourself with people that can help you fill in the blanks.

Find that thing you are passionate about and be great at it. Know about all the other stuff (be a generalist) and then get people in the room and form a team that can help each other out and fill in the blanks. As my friend Charlie Weingroff recently wrote, “A legitimate High Performance Staff. Everybody can be the Head at one point, but everybody is always everybody’s assistant.”

It isn’t about trying to master everything under the sun. It is about trying to be great at whatever you are passionate about. What do you want your legacy to be? How would you like people to remember you? Whatever it is, if you want to be a great strength coach, researcher, physical therapist, chiropractor, doctor, nutritionist, massage therapist, etc. It doesn’t matter! Find that thing that wakes you up in the morning and spend your life trying to get better at that. Chances are you will have a lot more fun that way.