Everyone has a dream. Although often drowned out by the pre-established “realities” of growing up, deep down at our core, we all have a dream. I can recall a little more than a handful of dreams from my childhood. Many of which I am able to remember now due to their repetitive nature. One such dream always found me walking on a bridge, with a cloud surrounding me each time, preventing me from seeing anything 10 feet in front or behind me. All I could see was the small section of the bridge that surrounded me in that moment. Each time without fail, as I attempted to navigate my way to the other side of the bridge, a seemingly uncontrollable force pulled me towards the right side of the bridge, towards the edge. The harder I fought to stay in the middle of the bridge the faster my body moved towards the edge as if by a magnetic force. Within moments, I would find myself being thrown over the bridge, falling with nothing below to catch me. And then, drenched in sweat and followed by moments of heavy breathing, I would wake up.
The dreams I am talking about in this blog go much deeper than a mere childhood, nightly experience of horror or bliss. These dreams are navigation beacons for the direction of your life. I am still in the process of identifying, reaching and perusing my own. My hope in sharing my experience with you, is that you will be led to take a step back and re-assess where you currently are in your life, where you would love to be, and how you will arrive there. As I imagined and dreamed of what I hoped to achieve and become in my professional life, there was one dream that left me asking questions without any answers.
I knew nothing about the profession of physical therapy until my junior year in high school. It was the Friday of our alumni weekend, and more than a dozen alumni, who
had become successful in their given professional fields, were stationed in their assigned rooms. Each was preparing for a fleet of high-schoolers, searching for anything they could glean in search for a potential career path that would best suit them. Although most students chose which room they desired to be in based on where their friends were, some were earnestly searching for a direction to follow. They were in search of an avenue through which they could serve the world and get compensated for it. I happened to be in the majority, searching for where my buddies were stationed. And whether by fate or divine intervention, I ended up in the one room led by a physical therapist, simply because my homies were present. I barely knew that the profession even existed, but within moments I fell in love. With every story shared, experience recalled and question answered, I saw myself all over the field. A previously non-existent dream began that day. But maybe I dreamed too much!
I envisioned a profession with endless growth and potential and I wanted it, badly. Learning about 3+3 programs the summer before my freshman year in college, I made the decision to claim the dream that had begun in that small high school classroom almost a year and a half before! It became my obsession. For the very first time in my life, I was acting on a dream. My passion for people and being able to watch and guide them to achieving their goals despite how challenging they may have initially seemed was uncontrollable. I inhaled energy from conversing, sharing and understanding how others viewed and interpreted the world. While on the basketball team in high school, I had developed an increased appreciation for physical health, learning from failures, persisting regardless of how challenging an obstacle was, and ultimately conquering that very obstacle or challenge. And now I would be able to help others do just that with their various health goals? I had hit the jackpot! Or so I thought.
Physical Therapy School:
My journey accounting for the ups, downs and inspirations encountered prior to getting into PT school will be documented in a later blog, but in November, 2013, after all of the hard work with the goal of being accepted to a DPT program in mind, I received a phone call to inform me that I had been accepted into the Andrews University Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Not only that, three of my close peers and friends received the same call for the same program, that very day. I was inching closer to that dream birthed in a high school classroom years before. My aspirations for the profession still knew no bounds! I was ready for the PT school grind. Student and professional mentors had played such a major part in that journey that I developed a program on our campus for mentoring other Pre-PT students who would come after me in search of a seat in a DPT program. It was a passion lit by a fire inside that would not be quenched any time soon. I was pumped and ready to take hold of the dream to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
Day one almost felt like a dream. Some were brought to tears at the thought that they had “made it!” We all desired to do everything in our power to seize the opportunity. Early on, we vowed to collaborate and support each other as a class. No one was to be left behind. The information flew at us like a fire hydrant unleashing insane pressures of water, but we appreciated it, embraced it and enjoyed each struggle and victory because it meant being one step closer to the goal of becoming a Physical Therapist. The goal of serving people and helping them overcome their ailments and obstacles, while aiding them in the pursuit of re-claiming their life again was all the inspiration I desired.
The DREAM, limited:
Unfortunately, as year two of the program began I started to sense that achieving the full extent of the dream conceived during my junior year in high school would not be as feasible as I had assumed it would be. The profession is absolutely fantastic, please don’t misunderstand me. However, I felt as though it had become stagnant. It left me perplexed and frustrated. I desired to build relationships with my patients, while giving them 100% of my attention and time as we worked together towards their goal. I soon learned that in the current PT model this was far from what was and still is considered to be realistic. It is common for an outpatient physical therapist to feel overwhelmed while the patient feels like a number at times due to the amount of patients that are at times seen within an hour in a PT clinic. I currently know a few facilities that have PTs seeing 3-4 patients within an hour. This is a construct of the need for clinics to receive ample reimbursement due to declining insurance reimbursement rates.
I didn’t want to be limited by that! I wanted to serve my future patients in every way possible. But as I came to eventually accept, that simply wasn’t how things were done, or had been done. I would have to conform to the pre-established structure of a profession that I felt needed to be shifted and progressed. I just didn’t know how. I distinctly recall a conversation with one of the three friends that were accepted on the same day I was. In that conversation, he mentioned to me that in feeling the same feelings of frustration coupled with a longing to do more for his future patients and level himself up, medical school had crossed his mind after physical therapy school. Is that what it would honestly take? We were both left with questions but no answers. Maybe it was finally time to conform and accept the fact that my dream had stepped outside of the pre-established boundaries of the profession and there was nothing I could do to change that. At least not alone.
It was my final year in PT school and I was on my first (long) clinical rotation in Mansfield Ohio. The rotation itself was better that anything I had anticipated prior to arriving. I had an excellent Clinical Instructor who would occasionally pull out a
basketball to shoot hoops when we weren’t seeing patients. I was loving every bit of my first three weeks there, when I saw something. I encountered a PT blog on Facebook, written by one of my good friends Casey Coleman. At the time, he was a Second year student in my school’s program. As I read his blog, I was drawn to the rest of his website and Business Facebook page, along with other blogs he had composed and published. They were all educational. He had taken what he was learning and re-packaged it for his audience and those who would benefit from it. I knew the guy, and instantly recognized that this was something new. He already had over 200 followers at the time consistently soaking up his work. I had no idea what he was doing, but it caught my attention. It was beyond what we had been taught to do in PT school and I WANTED IN! Whatever he was doing I wanted to be a part of. I immediately reached out to him, loading him with questions. Within minutes I said that I needed to meet with him in person on an Andrews visit from Ohio. That first meeting started me on a trajectory that would change the rest of my life, re-instilling in me the previously lost hope of actually achieving my dream!
Casey introduced me to Greg Todd, his mentor and a course taught by Greg, that he was in called Smart Success Physical Therapy. That was the source of all of his frequent activity. Something about this Greg guy had opened up the door of opportunities in the mind of Casey and all those who had previously take the course. As Casey elaborated more on what was covered in the course, the fact that it was EVERYTHING that had been missing from what is taught in PT school, as well as the Smart Success community that he had been inducted into, I knew now with certainty that my hope for becoming more and doing more for my future patients was actually possible. I immediately started inhaling every podcast and YouTube video I could find by Greg Todd. I remember speaking to that same friend of mine who had contemplated a transition into medical school after PT school in the search for more and we both knew that we HAD to get into the Smart Success Season 3 class. And that’s exactly what we did.
It was and still is, easily the best decision I have made for my career. As an alumnus of the course now, I could easily speak to you for hours on end about the drastic switch in perspective that has taken place as a byproduct of being exposed to the mindset of the man behind the program, Greg Todd. His own experience and testimony of how a life shattering illness nearly leading to him sell his PT practice at the time, became the fuel for a complete change in mindset regarding business, patient care and the future of Physical therapy. He currently owns two very successful clinics that encompass the values that I had once aspired to maintain and claim in that classroom during my junior year. Although, inspiring his story is not what impacted me the most. It was his unwavering desire to give us every opportunity to succeed as professionals. His desire is to raise a generation of professionals, PT students and future PT students, that is not limited by the apparent limitations of a system that has been in place for decades, but a generation that leads the charge into the new era of physical therapy and patient care
What SSPT did for me!
Smart Success PT has pushed me harder than I have ever been pushed before to succeed. The first and most important thing that I extracted from the course and conversations with Greg is the power of giving, serving and impacting people. I learned how to develop the appropriate mindset, while also comprehending the vitality of investing in myself through self-development. Through my SSPT experience, I also learned how to appropriately market through social media platforms as well as how to utilize technology to impact others, completely changing how we as professionals reach and serve those who need our services. Every detail from business and finances, to the power and “how to’s” of health and wellness programs was and is accounted for. It provided me with the tools and community to not only achieve in the future, but ACT now! So I started my website, which still consists of weekly blogs, my services, experiences and more. I became active on social media for the first time with a mission to serve as much as I could, while investing now, in the dreams that I now intend on achieving. As we speak there are behind the scenes projects under-way simply because the tools to achieve my goals were presented, along with the inspiration and motivation to start working towards those goals now!
Although still unfinished, this is my story, where a dream almost forgotten has become the primary fuel for everything I do each day. It has become the engine to my grind and the driving force to achieve my dreams one day at a time. What is your dream, identify it, seize it, know that you can achieve it, but also be ready to grind hard beginning today. Let every action you do from this moment be in line with where you want to be.
P.S. For more information regarding Gregg Todd and the Smart Success PT Program, please see the hyperlinks below. If you are searching for MORE on your journey to PT success, this is the course for you! Welcome to the family.
Thank You For Your Time!
My success and inspiration has come from the guidance of Greg Todd and the Smart Success Physical Therapy course! If you are a Physical Therapist or future Physical Therapist interested in leveling up, I would highly recommend being a part of the Smart Success Season 4 launching this June (pre-registration is currently open)! It has honestly changed my life!
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Joses Ngugi, SPT