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4 Lessons I Learned from my Dad in the Last 11 Years

Jan. 30, 2019

Recently, I published an article in the newspaper as a tribute to my Dad, highlighting 4 key lessons he’s taught me over the last 11 years.

This article was inspired by my Dad’s recent retirement from the clinic in the fall of 2018. I had such a warm response to this article that I wanted to share it in it’s complete text here on the blog page.

Below is the full text of the article. I hope you enjoy it!

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One of the biggest changes to the clinic this last year was my Dad’s retirement in the fall. If you don’t know my Dad (Robert Gordon), which I assume most of you reading this article don’t, he can best be summarized by this statement: his patients absolutely love him. When we held his retirement party at the clinic, I lost track of how many of these past patients showed up to give him their best (it must have been close to 100!).

I had the pleasure to work alongside my Dad for the last 11 years, and I’ve learned a lot from him. And today, I’d like to share some of the most important lessons he’s taught me.

4 Lessons I’ve Learned from My Dad

->> Lesson #1: Treat Clients Like Family. This may sound very cliché, but my Dad absolutely had this one mastered. A lot of people preach this idea, but I don’t really think it’s one everyone can learn. For my Dad, this came naturally to him. He just really likes helping people. And while I strive to embody this way of life, my Dad taught me how to really develop this capacity for empathy. I’ve never seen anyone do it so well and so naturally as he does.

->> Lesson #2: Tell Stories. My Dad can tell you a story about a wide variety of topics, especially if you’re even vaguely interested in history. And while this might not seem that important in the physical therapy world, sometimes nothing beats a good story while your PT is working out your sore muscles. Telling stories (and sharing a laugh or two) is one of the best ways to connect with people, especially if you pick a story they’re interested in.

->> Lesson #3: Go the Extra Mile. Again, this may sound cliché to some, but let me give you an example of how my Dad actually lives this ideal: on several occasions, my Dad has driven his clients home on a rainy day to save them from having to wait outside to catch the bus. Of course, you want to be selective with who you let into your car these days, but this is just one example of his willingness to help people out.

->> Lesson #4: Positive Attitude. At times, my Dad’s positive attitude was a source of my frustration, and I’d find myself thinking things like: “No Dad, things don’t always work out!” However, in hindsight, he was right: things usually do work out, especially if you stay positive (which I believe allows you to stay calm and seek creative solutions). I think his 30+ years in practice gave him a better view of the bigger picture, and he certainly made it through some tough times as a business owner. In addition, he has an amazing resource in my Mom (the power behind the throne, so to speak!). I think having her around has allowed him to stay calm and collected at times. She’s really good at thinking analytically and often helps out with details that Robert and I don’t have much patience for. Maybe that’s a 5th lesson… marry someone who compliments you and helps out with things that would otherwise distract you from what you enjoy and do best.

At the end of the day, I’ve been very fortunate to work with my Dad over the last 11 years. I’ve picked up a lot of good habits from him, especially in terms of how to treat people. And at some point, after learning how to treat patients, I made a leap in my thinking: that I should treat my co-workers as well as I treat my favorite patients. And while I’m not always a big ball of sunshine (I have my days!), this philosophy has allowed us to create a very special environment at Gordon PT, and I believe it’s one of the reasons so many people come back to us for their future PT needs.

I want to wrap up this tribute to my Dad with one of my favorite quotes: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” As PTs, we have a wonderful opportunity to help our patients on a daily basis. However, we really can’t help people with our “PT skills” unless we communicate how much we understand them and care about them. I’m going to elaborate on this idea in my next article, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

I hope today’s ideas help you stay positive this week (and throughout 2019!). And I hope you’ve been as fortunate as I’ve been to have someone in your life like my Dad. Stay well!

– Luke Gordon, DPT (

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