René Revis Shingles is director and
professor of the athletic training
education program and author of
the book, “Cultural Competence
in Sports Medicine.” She has been
at CMU for 21 years. She and her
husband, Stan, have one son,
Lamar, and a grandson, Jayden.
We often practice the hands-on
skills of athletic training. Students
will practice one time and they’re
done. I’ll say, “Really? You only need
one time to practice?” And they’ll
say, “Practice makes perfect.”
Actually, no – perfect practice
makes perfect. They’ll put an ace
wrap on, but they won’t tape
it at the end. You won’t learn
how to do it right if you don’t
do it right all the way through.
It’s a metaphor for life. When
you’re learning something, do it
to the best of your ability, every
time. That crosses over into the
work world. You’ll be good at a
skill if you’ve done it over and
over and over again, the right
way. That crosses over into your
personal life, with relationships,
too. Those take work. You can’t do
something once and expect that
relationship to have meaning.
Not that we’re perfect people
– we’re not. As a woman of
faith, I know that God is perfect,
but we are not. But striving
for it, that brings success.
I see success in multiple ways.
At the end of the day, have you
accomplished the tasks you
wanted to accomplish that day?
Have you done what God has
called you to do? If you’ve done
that, and you’ve tried to live in
a good way, that’s success.
I live by phrases my mother used
to say: “Kill them with kindness.”
And “If you can’t say something
nice, don’t say anything at all.”
If you do that, that’s success.
You hear people say, “Treat people
the way you want to be treated.”
I say treat them how they need
to be treated. As a woman, I
may need something different
than a man. As a heterosexual
person, I may need something
different than my lesbian sisters.
As an African-American, I may
need something different than
someone who is white or Hispanic
or Asian or Native American.
And that’s not just for patients in
health care. If you work at a bank,
how do you treat the person
who comes in to cash a check?
If you’re in business, what do
your customers really need?
Remember that we’re all human
and start there. Treat people
with respect and kindness. If you
make a faux pas, apologize and
ask, “How can I do this better?”
You don’t know what their
experiences have been leading
up to their encounter with you.
Educate yourself about the
demographic where you live and
work – the race, the gender, the
socioeconomic situation. Educate
yourself about the individuals
you’re likely to be interacting with.
My mother also used to say, “Can’t
nobody take care of you like you.”
You have to be able to take care
of yourself. Not that you can’t rely
on others, but you need to take
care of your physical health, your
spiritual health, your mental health.
If you aren’t where you need to be,
you can’t help others.
I want my students to be happy,
to enjoy life. To take advantage
of every opportunity that life
affords them. To find balance
– that’s important – balance in
their personal and professional
lives. I want them to take time
for themselves. To take care of
themselves so they can enjoy
their life and their families.
And, as Mom always said, “Leave
it better than you found it.”