Monday, May 16, 2011

Are You the "Measuring Stick" for Others?

I remember when I was in grade school and my 6th grade teacher, Ms. Mule would always get under our skin when my friends and I misbehaved. She would always make remarks about how we should act more like "Trevor". Trevor was the golden boy of our class because he was a lifetime honor-roll student, was a great artist, had great parents, and never, ever got into trouble. His homework was never late, it was never chewed up, nor was it ever messy. Most of the other teachers were impressed with Trevor's good classroom behavior, smarts, and good-natured charm. Trevor was the "measuring stick" for the rest of us to strive for as 6th grade students. I didn't realize this then....back then, we all despised Ms. Mule for comparing us to one student--but no one seemed to mind. Looking back now, I think it was needed. By today's standards, I don't think a teacher would be permissible to berate or belittle students by comparing them to each-other. Too many bleeding hearts would be phoning into the school and threatening lawsuits. But if you think about it, we all need "measuring sticks".

Some of us become "measuring sticks" over time. Some of us experience an event that calls upon us to make drastic choices that define us as leaders and they too, make us into a "measuring stick" for others. For example, remember when Jason Witten--the Dallas Cowboys football tight-end, caught a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles and lost his helmet? He was hit by two Eagle defenders, but didn't fall down and ran about 15 more yards without his helmet. It was a great Monday Night Football game and that defining moment made Jason Witten a "measuring stick" for all other players at his position:

Sometimes, defining moments don't make one into a "measuring stick" and it takes a series of defining moments or a career to make you into  a "measuring stick". For instance, if you have had a successful professional career that has lasted for years--chances are you have won the respect of others because time and time again you have proved yourself and came out on top? Look at WWE superstar Triple H---he is known as the "Measuring Stick" to all new wrestlers.
So as a fitness professional, what does it take to become a "measuring stick" for others? Here is a list of some attributes that I believe make one into a "measuring stick". By all means,  they are not the end all, be all of characteristics--however, they are what I believe make one a cut above the rest.

Respect for others and respect for the game. Most "measuring sticks" respect others even if they are in a lesser league. They don't condescend, but they do criticize. And that is because they believe that the game is bigger and more important than the parts that make it. As personal trainers, we need to respect the industry and remember that it is a service to provide.

Hard work ethic. "Measuring sticks" set the bar for hard work. They never complain, ask for more work, and always deliver. This is my 6th grade nemesis, Trevor, he always delivered and left us in the dust. In an industry where it is easy to be "appointed' a professional by friends in high places--this is where you have to differentiate yourself and let your hard work speak for itself.

Expect nothing less than better than before. In an age where mediocrity is rewarded and awards are presented for less-than-stellar performances, the "measuring stick" sets higher expectations on him/herself and those same demands are issued on those that work with and for him.
Be shepherds among sheep. Most "measuring sticks" don't follow the pack. They lead and allow others to follow. Their ability to lead easily distinguishes them as a target for criticism and analysis--but they always seem to stay the course. Consistency builds trust and always attracts others to follow. Most "measuring sticks" develop great content, work, or results and are not afraid to carve their own paths regardless of the popular majority.

It's all about attitude. "Measuring sticks" have a confidence that exponentially increases over time. Their confidence fosters a positive attitude that draws people to them. This magnetism  allows others to learn from you and increases the respect people have for you.

In conclusion, I hope you pursue this status of becoming a "measuring stick" for others. It will make you a tremendous teacher, professional, and person. It will reward you with the confidence, respect, and 'staying power' that you need to continue to progress in your chosen field and life.


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