“You’re passionate about what you’re doing, and you really care about the people you’re working with.”

I’d love to tell you this was something that was said about me, but it wasn’t. It was said to my friend Ruth, and it’s something she shared with me when we got together recently to catch up on what’s been going on in our lives.

Ruth is an indoor cycle instructor. She leads classes at the fitness centers where she works, and she is so good at what she does and so passionate about it that I feel like I’ve gotten a good workout just by listening to her talk.

It all started several years ago, when she took a cycle class and got hooked on the experience. She got even more enthusiastic as she started losing weight and gaining strength, stamina, and everything else that comes when we start exercising vigorously and consistently. But it wasn’t really that that set her in motion – no pun intended – to be a cycle instructor. It was simply the joy she got from cycling.

When she first started training to become a certified instructor, Ruth had a lot of doubts about how successful she could be at it. For one thing, she had to invest a fair amount of time and energy in the training itself. For another, most instructors already had a loyal following of class participants, and it could take a while to build up a clientele of her own. There is more to cycle classes than simply cycling. The personality of the  instructors, the type of playlist they put together for their classes, and the level and degree to which they push the participants all make cycle classes as individual and unique as the instructors themselves.

Ruth needn’t have worried. A year after she acquired her certification and began teaching, she has gone from two classes to twelve, and now teaches water aerobics as well as cycling. She has continued to be trained and certified in other disciplines, including as a group fitness instructor, which qualifies her to teach classes in any number of different types of

“The more I learn,” she told me, “the more there is that I realize I need to learn. And the more I learn, the better able I am to help the people in my classes.”

As we talked, I became more and more fascinated – and impressed – with all the classes she has taken, and the continuing education she is receiving. Anatomy and physiology. Health and nutrition. Teaching styles and methods. And on and on. I have a feeling that by the time she’s done, she’ll be qualified not only to teach exercise but to perform heart surgery.

There are two different ways Ruth – or any of us – could look at this. One would be to get frustrated, overwhelmed, and discouraged by the amount of knowledge and training involved. The other is to be eager, excited, and motivated by it.

I think it’s obvious which one applies to my friend. And the reason is that she truly wants to learn as much as she can because she is so passionate about every aspect of it. Also, a large part of the incentive for her is her genuine concern for the participants in her classes. She wants them to get as much benefit as they can, in an environment that is as safe and enjoyable as possible.

It was the master trainer in her group fitness instructor class, by the way, who made the observation that she knew Ruth was going to be successful because she was passionate about what she was doing, and she really cared about the people she was working with.

I can think of no better way for any of us to determine or improve our chances for success – in our careers, our relationships, or in any area of our lives – than to ask ourselves those two questions: Are we passionate about what we’re doing? Do we genuinely care about the people we are working with?

If we can answer “Yes” to both questions, then we, like Ruth, have the ability and the capacity to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.

If not, we may simply be spinning our wheels.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on November 1, 2012.

© Betty Liedtke, 2012

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