I get asked this quite a lot in clinic, and I always hesitate because I'm never quite sure if the person asking is just politely showing an interest or whether they are genuinely curious.
Most of the time people ask, what made you become a chiropractor, and this phrase always brings to my mind the suggestion that I am expected to have had a life changing experience at the hands of a chiropractor and a subsequent conversion.
Certainly, this seems to be the cliché answer. If you look on a few chiropractic clinic websites you will quickly spot a pattern of "I had terrible headaches that nobody could cure, until I saw a chiropractor and was healed! I knew I had to carry this miracle to others…", or something of the sort.
I think my reasons are probably a little more banal than the above eye-opening experience.
Despite first being attracted to law, my passion for sport and interest in learning ways to train lead to me being called “the doctor” at school by the time I was 14. Kids would come in to the gym, where I was invariably found, and ask for exercises to strengthen certain points because they were getting back pain or shoulder pain for instance.
I also had some knee and shoulder issues that prevented me for doing certain sports for a long time, and for these I visited various health professionals.
A visit to my GP resulted in referral to physiotherapy. Physiotherapy didn’t do the trick and so I was referred to podiatry. The resultant insoles didn’t seem to help and so I was referred to a surgeon, who rightly said there was nothing to operate on.
The overwhelming attitude over this time was, "what hurts?", "running", "stop running", and to say that left me frustrated is an understatement. The only reason given for my symptoms was growing pains, which I now know to be a load of nonsense.
My PE teacher suggested at one point that I go to a chiropractor for my shoulder problem, and this was where I learned the profession existed. To be fair, I had a couple of sessions and my shoulder did get better, but I don’t remember it being an inspirational moment where I discovered my vocation.
At this point it is important to say that I have always had a desire to start and run my own business, ever since I can remember. Even now, I’m not sure why.
When I started seriously considering careers, my short list included geologist, barrister, investment analyst and chiropractor. My careers advisor pointed out that all had a high analytical element and weren’t as polar as it might seem on first impression.
Geology seemed to come very naturally to me, and I enjoyed being out and about, but my geology teacher, who was fantastic in every other way, shot down this idea by giving me the worst career advice I have ever had. His impression of a geology degree was that it could only lead to teaching geology. And I was naïve enough not to know any better.
After much thought, I ruled out pursuing law or finance as I had the impression that both industries had been fairly monopolised. The idea of ousting HSBC or Clifford Chance as the leading provider of either service seemed unlikely.
And that left chiropractic. As well as my interest in the human body and the scope for learning and variety, the cherry on top was the lack of a market leader. There is no Mercedes Benz of chiropractors, only small parochial clinics. What an enticing carrot.
And so this is my motivation. To build something that is greater than just a local chiropractic clinic with one or two chiropractors diligently doing their best. And I genuinely believe that the best way to do this is by consistently offering the best possible service and by continually seeking improvement. It is for this reason that I have to thank those who have and continue to give their feedback, as without this we cannot improve.