Updated: Aug 26, 2018
It was 1997 in Chicago, and all eyes were on number twenty-three. I mean, let’s be honest Michael Jordan was the best player on the floor, and we all expect him to be the go to guy. It’s game six of the NBA finals, the game is on the line, and the Chicago Bulls have the ball. Who do you think is going to put the game away and take the last shot? It will probably be Jordan, right? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. The game winner that gave Chicago their fifth NBA title was shot by Steve Kerr, an unlikely hero. Before coming to Chicago, Kerr was a journeyman for some time. He played for both the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers. Kerr was always a good shooter prior to his arrival to Chicago, but there was one thing that changed for him. It’s the same thing that allowed him to go on to win five NBA championships as a player, and three as a coach.
This thing that took Kerr from just another basketball player to an eight-time NBA champion is something called being in the right system or being on the right team. He was finally in the right system that could magnify his gift of shooting to help him win big. That same thing my friend, is what will help you completely dominate the NPTE exam. I remember how I felt before a big exam, project, or interview. My nerves were all over the place, and I just wanted to execute efficiently to be able to take full advantage of the opportunity ahead of me. During certain points in my life, it felt like my return on investment did not accurately reflect what I thought the result should have been. It is demoralizing and crushing when you sow the seeds carefully and plentifully, and later reap fruits that don’t match what you put in to the soil. Many times, when this happens, we are not being realistic.
We blame our teacher, the circumstances, and anything else in the book that can help soften the blow to not meeting our goals. “My professor just reads off the powerpoint slides.” “I am too tired.” “I would have studied more, but I have so much on my plate right now.” These are all familiar excuses we have used exactly or in some other variation along the way. The issue all along is that we fail to self-assess and figure out a solution. Most of the time we place the magnifying glass on the problem, and we become oblivious to the solution right outside of the glass. I say this because I too have used these same excuses and not been honest enough with myself. If I was truthful, I would have realized much sooner the root issue and saved myself a lot of headaches and misfortune. You see, it did not matter what excuses I had in my arsenal because life didn’t care to hear them at all.
The day things turned around for me was when I openly saw I was in the wrong system and I had the wrong team around me. How do you expect to be an all-star hanging around rookies? What makes you think that you can reach a level of success never seen before for yourself if you don’t elevate your company? The company you keep right now is either helping you grow, keeping you stagnant, or bringing you down, point, blank, period. You may be thinking, “So am I just supposed to forget about my old friends or turn my back on the people I grew up with?” That is not necessarily the point I am trying to make. In fact, you can keep your old friends, but you need to be realistic and upgrade your team.
Your NPTE team is going to be the difference maker between if you pass the exam or fail. These people are so critical to your success. They can be the reason you can officially add doctor to your name. On the other hand, they can be the reason you have to accept delayed gratification and take the exam again. The choice is yours, but I urge you to please choose wisely. One of the greatest motivational speakers of all time was a man by the name of Jim Rohn. Jim Rohn openly said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, if you want to be successful and pass your exam, but you are hanging around five people who lack ambition, guess who is going to be number six. It’s all on YOU. Did you really go through three challenging and character-building years of PT school to be average? I hope that you answered that with a resounding no. I know you are tired of studying, and I know you are ready to be a clinician, but it all comes down to this exam.
The regular season is where stars are born, but the playoffs is where legends are born. Don’t be average and don’t be good. Be great! You must want this as bad as you want to breathe, and you must dig deep. This is where you become legendary. This is where you separate yourself from the competition. This is where you finally become a doctor of physical therapy. These last three years can’t and won’t be in vain, but only if you believe that. Now it is time for an upgrade and it’s time to self-assess and be honest with where you are in your preparation. So, let me ask the question, “Who is on your NPTE prep team?” Are you rolling with a squad of winners that will help guarantee you pass or is your squad composed of people that want to do the bare minimum?
Guys, the day I loaded my NPTE prep team with all stars was the day, that I opened the door to becoming Doctor Kyle Rice. I said yes to my dreams, and no to failure. Long gone were the days of questioning if I could pass the exam and gone were the days of having doubts. I knew without a doubt, I equipped myself to not only pass, but to completely dominate the exam. I kid you not. A perfect score didn’t just happen for me, I grinded with my team to make it happen. When test day came, every part of me was fully aware, I was coming out Dr. Rice. I walked in for the exam and I told myself, “Kyle you are the answer key.” This would not have been possible without the proper team and being in the right system. I tell you this not to brag, but to motivate you and to help you come to an understanding.
You ARE the answer key, and you can crush this exam, but only with the right team. Steve Kerr doesn’t become an eight-time NBA champion without being in the right system and having the right team. This is the same way you can’t become the future clinician you envision yourself to be without the right team. The price of being great can be expensive in terms of what it requires. You can’t cheat the system and there are no shortcuts to the finish line. The faster you realize this, the faster you will be able to embody the winner that you are. So, make sure your starting five is strong, but make sure your bench is strong as well and you can’t lose. This is just the final challenge between who you are now and who you desire to be. Take it from me, there is no sweeter feeling than knowing you completely owned the examination. My hope is that you can come back to this one day as a clinician and be able to completely relate to that feeling.
Everything you endured in the last three years brought you to this moment. Make sure you don’t just give yourself a chance to pass. Instead, set yourself up to dominate the NPTE and leave no doubt that you belong in this industry. Assemble your team, and don’t take them lightly. Remember these will be the people that make a difference in you achieving success. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times in life I really did not take that serious. Our success is so dependent on our circle. The day I chose to get out of the chicken coup and be around eagles is the day I began to fly high. This is something to this day I still actively practice, and I am always self-assessing who is on my team. This could be my fitness team, career team, or relationship team, but nonetheless I make sure my different teams are composed of winners. In life, bosses will be bosses, winners will always find a way to win, and losers will always be subject to continue their cycle of losing.
So, do me a favor. Better yet, do yourself a favor and surround yourself with those winners. It’s the fourth quarter ladies and gentlemen. Are you going to win the game or lose? You didn’t come this far to only come this far. You control your fate, and you control your atmosphere. Make sure it is an atmosphere that puts in you a prime position to thrive. Nobody remembers Steve Kerr was once on losing teams. All they think of when they hear that name is a winner. He just needed the right people on his team, and so do you. Make it happen, and I can’t wait to see you at the finish line in the winner’s circle.
Karl Bourne, Lead Bloger Writer & Editor