Walking With Purpose

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Today’s guest post is brought to you by current Cressey Sports Performance intern, resident practicing veterinarian, and lover of all things lifting heavy, Hannah Wellman.

You heard me correctly. Hannah is indeed a veterinarian; an equine veterinarian as a matter of fact. She’s originally from Australia, worked in the U.S for several years (in Kentucky no less, working with horses), went back home, and then had the crazy idea of coming back to the States to hang out with us at CSP for a few months.

I can say unequivocally that we’ve been the benefactor of her presence.

How many training facilities get to say that one of their coaches is a practicing veterinarian?

Anyhoo, one day she and I were chatting and out of nowhere she made the comment, “Tony, ever notice how you walk with purpose?

Having no idea what she was referring to, I pressed further.

“What do you mean?” I asked, envisioning, in my head, some form of crossbreed walk between The Rock strutting down the ramp towards the wrestling ring and Rupaul in the video Supermodel.

You know, purpose!

Come to find out, it was nothing close to that…..;o)

I asked her to expound on her comment and below is what she came up with.  It’s pretty amazing.

Hope you enjoy it.

Walking With Purpose

A couple of weeks after meeting Tony I mentioned to him that I thought he “walked with purpose”. It wasn’t something that I had planned to say or formulated in advance, and I can’t remember the exact circumstances surrounding the comment. I was just stating a simple observation. There’s something about how someone carries themselves when they think nobody is looking that reveals a lot about their character.

Because of this comment, and perhaps my slightly unique background, Tony asked if I would share my thoughts on what I think it means to “walk with purpose”. I broke it down from my perspective.

1. People who ‘walk with purpose’ know who they are.

Understanding who you are is probably one of the trickiest things to authentically achieve as it requires some hard-hitting self reflection and honesty. Additionally, it is a constant process.

I’ve worked hard at this over the last five years and know I’m on my way. This doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. I still fall for the wrong guy sometimes, lose my confidence in certain situations and make the wrong Dairy Queen Blizzard selection.

The difference is I am now more aware of it, and more importantly, I learn from it.

When you know who you are trying to the best of your ability you can start to align your life with your foundational beliefs, values and principles.

Leading a congruent life leads to less resistance and more purposeful choices.

2. People who ‘walk with purpose’ epitomize SWAG.

To me this parallels someone who has a goal. Goals create the stepping stones forward and promote accountability to keep your foot on the gas.

Nothing is more devastating than watching someone coast through life on cruise control well under their potential. The business philosopher Jim Rohn stated it is often not about the goal itself but who you become on your way to achieving it.

There is also a big difference between an idea and a goal. Ideas are things you are interested in. I had an idea once to cycle the length of Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. I have yet to buy the required bicycle or book the ticket.

Goals are things you commit to. I had a goal to learn more about coaching and the principles of strength and conditioning six months ago. Here I am on the other side of the world at Cressey Sports Performance.

You have to turn your innovations from ideas into goals with an expiry date…and then, this is the clincher, execute them.

3. People who ‘walk with purpose’ live by their principles not by their feelings.

I was at a conference recently where Eric Thomas spoke on this subject. He stated that “at the end of your feelings lies nothing, but at the end of your principles is a promise.”

Feelings will take you all over the place and can be heavily influenced by external environmental and human factors. There’s a reason they call it an emotional roller-coaster. You feel like you are moving forward but in fact when it’s all said and done you get off right where you started.

Coach Wooden would purposefully not give a pre-game speech to stir up emotions in his athletes. He believed for every artificial peak created there was a valley. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t acknowledge and reflect on your feelings as they occur, it just means people who ‘walk with purpose’ don’t live at their mercy.

Principles on the other hand are strong and stable. You have complete control over them. They are built from experience and a deeper understanding of the world and your place in it.

In a mess? Check your feelings. You can’t get lost on the straight road marked by your principles.

4. People that ‘walk with purpose’ embrace change.

I’ve made some big changes in the last year and I’ve noticed a theme from some of the unhappier people in my life. When they hear about some of my choices (many of which have been a little “out of the box”), they suggest how lucky I am that change is easy for me because it’s hard for them.

I want to set a couple things straight.

Firstly, change is inevitable. The difference is you either try to drive the bus or let the bus drive over you.

Secondly, change is generally uncomfortable for everyone. In the last year or so just about every major facet of my life has changed. Every step has been challenging but every stage has pushed me forward. The difference between those who embrace change and those who avoid it has nothing to do with circumstance.

Those that embrace change are not deterred by “hard”. To ‘walk with purpose’ you realize that change and growth are inseparable and you’re willing to feel uncomfortable through the transitions forward.

5. People who ‘walk with purpose’ realize their purpose is to serve.

As Gandhi said; “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.

There is nothing more rewarding than giving your best to someone else. I currently volunteer as a telephone crisis supporter for a national suicide and crisis hotline. The role required extensive training. As a veterinarian I have some experience with emotional situations so felt fairly confident about the process before I started. Was I ever in for an awakening!

I struggled through the first few months of the training program. I’m naturally a ‘problem-solver’; come to me with an issue and I’m going to immediately start formulating a plan to work through it.

This works for animals but not people.

When applied to the human species it’s kind of an arrogant and disempowering philosophy.

People need to be heard first. I had to learn to slow it down, be in the moment and get comfortable directly acknowledging and talking about someone’s feelings without offering advice…ever.

Next time you’re having a conversation, monitor what you’re saying. When someone states something do you automatically respond with a similar experience or your thoughts about theirs?

Try talking to someone for an hour without giving advice or passing an opinion. Be in the moment and really hear what they’re saying. It’s about them not you. That’s the challenge. That’s the foundation of service.


People who ‘walk with purpose’ hold their own compass to determine their path. Their principles align with their actions. Since my comment I’ve been lucky enough to spend a little more time observing Tony’s “walk” and I can tell you he “walks the talk”. I’ve seen him wear a Transformers t-shirt (be who you are), build his business (SWAG), travel (embrace change) and mentor and support many fitness professionals (service).

This man ‘walks with purpose’.

About the Author (By Tony)

Hannah (Wellman) doesn’t have a website or a bunch of links to social media that I can link you towards (although, HERE’s her Facebook page).

All I can offer is that she’s easily one of the most caring, easy-going, and genuine individuals I’ve ever met.

As alluded to above, she’s a practicing veterinarian (both in the US and Australia) who also has a passion for lifting heavy things.

She’s the sh#t.

(<—–) She’s also the one pictured on the left.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

Comments for This Entry

  • Guillermo Muñoz Mireles

    Awesome article Hannah! I think you hit home when you said that understanding who we are is one of the hardest things to do, and we're always on the process of achieving that. And I truly believe that knowing ourselves is one of the keys to evolving and growing as humans. Thanks for sharing. P.S.: You have a beautiful dog ;)

    August 4, 2014 at 11:41 am | Reply to this comment

  • Christopher Bellon

    Hey Hannah, This article (and the way you've lived the past year of your life) has served as an fantastic reminder that while it's important to pursue a level of mastery in your life's work, it's also key to get out of your comfort zone and chase other experiences that life has to offer. I think a lot of people allow their profession to define who they are (especially in the field of strength & conditioning!) and live life with blinders. While the world can always use more people who are passionate about their profession, it also needs people that live with a passion for life. On the surface, you're a veterinarian who volunteers for a national suicide & crisis hotline and interning at Cressey Performance (which is freakin' awesome, by the way...). However, it's not difficult to see that those roles don't define who you are, but are actually a reflection of your passion for life--a lesson I'd like to follow for sure. Thanks for the inspiration! Seriously, keep loving life :) Chris

    August 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Well stated Chris! Thanks for chiming in!

      August 7, 2014 at 9:10 am | Reply to this comment

    • Hannah Wellman

      Thanks so much Chris for your kind words and support. I completely agree with your sentiments! For many years I defined myself by my occupation but after some "ah-ha" moments I came to realize that when I became my occupation I lost myself :) On the road now to correcting that imbalance. I will keep loving life and hope you do the same :) Take care!

      August 9, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Jeff

    Great article and insight! "Try talking to someone for an hour without giving advice or passing an opinion" - very good advice

    August 6, 2014 at 4:05 am | Reply to this comment

  • Trish

    Such a great article, Hannah! I admire your openness to change. It was great meeting you at CP a few months back (however brief it was).

    August 6, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Peter Galazka

    Great article. I never thought that just listening to someone might be more theurapeutic to that person than giving tons of advice! Your diet sucks, do this not that, my way or the highway.... This will be hard to implement, but so is life. Thank you.

    August 10, 2014 at 8:40 am | Reply to this comment

  • Shane Mclean

    Never thought about working with a purpose, or other people who do it. Eyeopening. Which part of Australia are you from? I'm from Melbourne, living in Dallas Texas

    August 10, 2014 at 10:06 am | Reply to this comment

    • Hannah Wellman

      Thanks Shane. I have lived in a variety of locations on the east coast as well as the US in the last 10 years. Hope you have a new lens to look through and add a little purpose to your walk :)

      August 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Kenny Hutto

    While working as a PT Aide in Portland, ME I would tell the patients I was working with to "walk with a purpose." At the time I felt that it had two major benefits. The first was I was teaching them to get full hip extension. I would tell them they were "walking in front of themselves," thus not using their glutes, etc. Second, I felt like that style of walking was bound to create a timid, under-performing person. Thank you for shedding more light on this topic. Beautifully written!

    August 11, 2014 at 10:13 am | Reply to this comment

    • Hannah Wellman

      Thanks Kenny for your thoughts and perspective! There is definitely something to be said for "acting" your way into a new mindset. It is commonly said "fake it 'til you make it" but I heard "fake it 'til you become it" recently and I love that!

      August 11, 2014 at 10:02 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Benita Johnson

    What a great article, Hannah! You really do go from strength to strength (no pun intended). Not surprisingly, your photo is gorgeous too.

    September 1, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Brawn

    Hannah, your perspective on walking with purpose is enlightening. Knowing oneself, setting goals, living by principles, embracing change, and serving others—all beautifully explained. Thanks for sharing

    July 5, 2023 at 8:51 am | Reply to this comment

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