I listened intently to every word. It was 8 a.m. sitting in a classroom with five other medical professionals, two chiropractors, one naturopath, one other massage therapist, plus myself. I decided to take a course to polish my assessment skills. In his Spanish accent, the instructor began his talk about excellence. You see, the course typically has 15-20 enrolled. Although the course was smaller than normal, he discussed how the size of the class wouldn’t impact his teaching. He would still give the same effort to use six as he would to 20, or 50.
Famous for using his white board markers, he grabbed the one, and scribbled on the board these five things: accuracy, clarity, 100% focus, commitment, and motivation. These things were his explanation as to why he gets the results he has.
“When you master these things, you’ll have a Ph.D. in results. Be sure you have a Ph.D. in results,” he said
When we started the hands-on portion of the course that first day, his first words hit me hard. So hard they have kept ringing in my ears since. “Pay attention to the details. Keep your finger nails short. Always keep them trimmed. I have done this for years. It keeps my touch very delicate. If I get a little dust on my fingers, it aggravates me. See, my finger tips are so sensitive, little things like that bother me.”
BOOM! Something so simple, something I have admittedly overlooked time and time again. Not that I didn’t keep my nails trimmed, but besides the obvious reason to trim them to keep from scratching clients, but the enhanced sensations keeping them short would bring.
As the course went on, the theme was clear. Pay attention to the details. Be delicate in your touch. Doing the simple things well.
We went over various assessment tools, methods and tests. Over and over he would say how much of his success was due to his ability to find things that so many overlook. Little things, things like finding the exact lines of tension within body segments. He taught us his technique for identifying precise lines of tensions, using one of our classmates. A little motion palpation was done on this line for a few minutes and it was clear significant improvements were made, both to the tissues and to range of motion.
“Listen to their body with your hands. Be silent and still. You’ll find the restrictions.“ In the middle of checking ankle movement, he approached me and in his Spanish accent, “Listen with your hands. You won’t feel anything like doing it that.”
I made adjustments, trying to decipher what listening with my hands meant. Sure enough, I was able to detect the restriction much sooner than I initially felt. Amazing! Little things like that can make a big different to athletes.
So what can a massage therapist do to get a Ph.D. in results? It can be summed up with a story from John Wooden.
The section in Wooden’s book titled “Details Create Success,” he described how the first meeting of the year, he discussed the simple things, often overlooked. He made sure each player put on their socks correctly, avoided folds, wrinkles and creases, things that could leave players with blisters and hinder their performance. Wooden wrote, “I believe in the basics: attention to, and perfection of, tiny details that might commonly be overlooked. They may seem trivial, perhaps even laughable to those who don’t understand, but they aren’t….They are the difference between champions and near champions.”
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