It’s been quite the year and true to form, I decided to reflect in writing. The more that I wrote, the more that I realized how valuable this reflection could be for someone else. Hence, this blog was born; a condensed version of my thoughts on the past year. There have been ups, downs, twists, turns and so much more. However, through it all, I’ve come out as a better person and I hope, that in some way, this blog can add similar value to your life.
Let’s get started.
Dance In The Rain
From a pandemic altering wedding plans to a honeymoon spent nursing my wife back to health (read more here) and everything else in between, this year ha done everything but gone according to plan. However, the more that I reflect, the more that I realize just how beautiful everything has been. I’m proud of how my wife and I handled all of the uncertain and unplanned circumstances of this past year because through it all, we were able to stay (more or less) in the present moment. Life brought more than a few storms, but we were able to laugh, live and dance in the rain.
Add Value First (and always)
I was blessed to be able to work thought he pandemic. Sure, it looked different than it usually did – instead of treating patients I was cleaning bathrooms – but it was work nonetheless. I wrote an entire blog about the perspective that I chose to adopt through it all (read more here) but I didn’t write about this next part. While work slowed during the beginning of the pandemic, my mind didn’t. I wanted to make the most of every minute and I did two things that ended up changing my life. First, I treated patients during all hours of the day (before hours, during lunch and after hours). I did this because every patient mattered (they always do) and I wanted to add value. One patient in particular ended up becoming a good friend and to keep things confidential, they changed my life in an unbelievable way. Second, I took the initiative to film videos (an exercise library and live workouts) for work to add value to the members who couldn’t use the gym. This ended up not only helping work create more efficient systems but it also connected me with the person who I just mentioned. The point is that when you look to add value for the right reasons without expectation of return, things have a way of working out in your favor (I believe this to be true always).
Always Take The Meeting
To keep this point brief, let me make a blanket statement – some of the best things that have happened to me over this past year have come through connections. The time, energy and effort that I’ve put into building relationships with other people (via social media, on the phone and in person) have led to some of the best opportunities and most incredible experiences. Even when it’s inconvenient, I’ve learned that it’s always better to take the meeting because you never know what awaits you on the other side. This point does come with a caveat and some exceptions. This first caveat is that the goal of meeting new people needs to be from a place of service and value; the goal is to help other people, not look for other people to help you. The second caveat is that there is a time and place to say “no” to opportunities (I’m still learning when that is). Connecting with other people is important, but not important enough to neglect other relationships and risk sustainable growth. In other words, always take the meeting, but use your discretion as to when the meeting is urgent and when it can wait… I’m learning that most things can wait.
Just Do it
There are things about Nike that I don’t love, but there might be no slogan more simple and more powerful than this; just do it. This past year has taught me quite a bit about what it means to take action and take initiative. I started a paid email newsletter that started with 5 people and now has over 175 people. It’s a constant work in progress and it continues to grow as I do. I’ve taken action to work with others to learn valuable business skills. I took a leap and started making video content on Youtube (which continues to scare me) and I’ve taken steps to seek guidance for next steps. The more that I take action, the more opportunities that pop up, the more that I’m able to refine my process and the more that I’m able to learn about myself. This past year has taught me that I like to make quick decisions, learn and make adjustments. There might be no feeling that I dislike more than stagnation. With that, you better bet that next year will be full of action.
We Can’t Do It Alone
To build on that last point, action alone doesn’t create incredible results and we alone can’t do as much as we think. In the end, impactful and meaningful endeavors don’t usually happen alone. This past year has taught me that I depend on other people to thrive, create value and move forward. From people who support me, to people who encourage me, to people who guide me, everything that I do is the result of the hundreds and thousands of people who I’ve interacted with through the years. There is no such things as a neutral interaction and every person who has crossed my path has shaped me in some way. I’m beyond grateful for those of you who reads these blogs, for those of you who cheer me on and for those of you who I call friend. I couldn’t do anything that I do without other people and I don’t think that can be overstated. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my wife; I wouldn’t be who I am without her and I’m so grateful to have her by my side to pick me up on the hard days and smile with me on the good ones. This is for another blog but I wouldn’t be who I am without Jesus. We can’t do it alone and we’re all in this together. If you’re reading this and need anything, know that I’m here.
It’s Good To Be Wrong
This was a tough lesson to learn (over and over and over gain), but I’m just now learning to embrace it. Being wrong is one of the best things that we can be because the act of realizing that we are wrong (in itself) moves us closer to being right. For me, this past year has been full of humble moments where admitting to being wrong challenging but also rewarding. I”m coming to believe that the sooner we can be wrong, the sooner we can be right. For me, this coming year is all about making decisions, making mistakes, learning from them and moving the ball forward down the right path.
It’s Not About You
This lesson is one that I am reminded of daily; it’s what I choose to live my life based on and this feels like the right time to explain just a little bit more. From a young age, as a result of my eyesight, I’ve struggled with feeling anxious, alone and misunderstood (I think we all do if we’re being honest). Through all of those feelings, I’ve managed to achieve great things, build confidence and foster great relationships. From the outside looking in, it must have always seemed that I had it all together but I almost never did. During the first year of graduate school (the darkest season of my life), I realized that if I felt like this, other people must too. I realized that every single word that I spoke and thing that I did affected the people around me. I realized that at the end of the day, I don’t get to take anything with me when life ends. The only things that will live on past me is the way in which I impacted the people and places around me. It’s not about me, it’s not about you and it’s never about a single person. Life becomes meaningful when we can step outside of ourselves and be of service to the people around us. Life is bigger than us and it’s not just about you.
Life Isn’t Linear
While this is something that I’ve always known, it seems like this past year as been about as non-linear as it gets. Between two weddings (first and second), a honeymoon hospital stay for my wife and countless other ups and downs in the middle of a pandemic nonetheless, this year was a rollercoaster. What I’m really proud of is how my wife and I were able to anchor ourselves in faith and keep emotions steady through the many peaks and valleys that we experienced. I’ve been learning lately that a humble spirit can help steady the highs and a hopeful spirit can steady the lows. For the coming year, I’m prioritizing steadiness because it’s in that middle space (not too high and not too low) that I am most focused, most centered and most myself. Life will never me linear and I can’t control that, however, I can control myself and this year, I’ll be striving to be steady though it all and focusing on controlling the controllable (responding well).
This last point is one that I have always struggled with but became an even bigger battle when I got married. To me, being selfless is second nature; I love helping other people. However, what I’ve come to realize over this past year is that when I give too much of myself, I run this tank too close to empty. In other words, I need to be better at being strategically selfish so that I can be more sustainably selfless. It’s about being selective with my energy so that I can be special in my service.
If you’ve made it to the end of this blog, kudos and thank you. I know it was on the longer side, but remember, this is an entire year of learning condensed into minutes. The take home message and overwhelming sentiment that I felt this year is one of gratitude. Thank you for entertaining my writing, following along, supporting me, encouraging me and trusting me with your time and attention. It really means so much more than you know as I continue to write, create and explore what’s possible. I have no idea where writing (or life) will take me, but I’m thankful to have you along for the ride.
Thank you for reading!
Here’s to 27.
Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT