From the emails I have been receiving lately, it would appear that the current events in our country, the economy and the uncertainty of the healthcare marketplace have more than a few chiropractors seriously worried about their future. Rather than dwell on circumstances that are largely beyond our control, here are some strategies for transforming negativity and unpredictability into opportunities for practice growth, progress, and achievement.

1. Futurize, Supersize and Minimize
Unfortunately, many leaders dwell on the past and what went wrong. If you must talk about the past, learn from it, don’t dwell on it – minimize it and move on! Instead Futurize – communicate your vision and communicate it often. And while you’re at it –supersize it! Make your goals big and well known to yourself and your staff.

2. Give Mediocrity the Boot
When we are stressed and focused on external problems, we tend to let things slide and accept mediocrity. Now is the time to tighten the reigns, pick up the slack and get rid of sloppy habits. If you need a kick in the pants in this department, I suggest you pick up a copy of George’s Cloutier’s Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing. Though I certainly don’t agree with all his ideas, and he is sure to offend many, the book is a worthwhile read as no-nonsense guide to running your business more effectively.

3. Problem Focused Spinning
Focusing on helping your patients transform their negatives into positives. The more you contribute in this fashion, the less you will need to worry about your own situation. You will become a source of confidence for everyone else. You will inspire patients to use time wisely to regain their health and place even more value in your care. Tell patients simply and directly: “You can’t afford to have this problem. We need to get you fixed up quickly so that you don’t lose work time and so that you keep your job.” They will agree wholeheartedly and accept your care plan.

4. Go Deeper
There is a massive refining process underway right before our eyes, thanks to the present economy. Into the fire go the lazy, unmotivated, uncommitted, and other parasites that had a free ride for far too long. Witness the mass exodus in professions such as real estate where agents were quick to take their 150 hour exam, get their license and unload $500,000 houses at 6% or 7% commission as quickly as possible, no effort needed, no talent or skill required. Now and every other job board is glutted with the fallouts of many of these industries. While that may sound harsh, there are survivors and the best have learned to go deeper into their well of resources to sharpen or develop new skills.
The quickest way to achieve this? Read! There is nothing new under the sun and certainly you can discover how others are succeeding around you even in what appears to be new fields or technology. Don’t like to read? You are fortunate to be living in the best time ever for illiterates. Podcasts, YouTube and a host of other internet gadgets can now enable you to get massive quantities of information without laying a single finger on a book or even opening your eyelids. If reading is not your style, you no longer have an excuse – develop yourself!

5. Fail Quickly, Mitigate Risk
Put away two myths: first, you have to be good at everything and second, that successful business people are wild risk takers whose daring proposition somehow panned out. Get over failures quickly and become self-directed, self-managed, and self-motivated. Resolve to accentuate your strengths and focus even more on what you are good at.
Because, when analyze it closely, business generally rewards the specialist. It is more advantageous to become an “expert” in a few things than to be acceptable at many. Once you find your expertise, there are no daredevil methods required to harness it. Mitigate risk and make small moves towards mining that expertise for profit. For an eye-opening look at how others did this (some of whom are perhaps more famous than you – i.e. Bill Gates) get Rick Smith’s quick read The Leap and see how you can make simple changes to propel your career.

6. Forget What’s Missing, Borrow Brilliance
Too often I hear DC’s who are focused, even obsessed, on what is missing in chiropractic. They moan about how insurance isn’t what it used to be, taxes are up, patients don’t want to pay, competition is fierce, and on and on and on. Forget about what is missing in chiropractic. No, the healthcare marketplace is not perfect, but focus on what IS available!
One sure-fire way to do this is to get out of your chiropractic bubble! Read business related books by those outside the profession and apply their ideas to your own practice. Talk with successful dentists, dry cleaners or dog sitters and glean gems of wisdom from their experience. In the words of another book for your reading list, “Borrowing Brilliance” (title of same name, author David Kord Murray) can be the best way to harness someone else’s creativity for your own benefit.

7. Skip the Complaints
Ever spend time in a grocery line behind a whining toddler who constantly assaulted his mom with begging and pleading for candy? Annoying right? What’s even more exasperating is when the two year old finally wins. Mom gives in and gets the little booger his candy.
You are a grown adult and are certainly old enough and capable enough to buy your own candy, make priority decisions for yourself and your business and achieve all of this without whining like a poorly trained toddler. So don’t grumble and complain to your patients about the economy, your slow schedule or your thinning bank account as if, by some magical, parental force, they can give you your “candy” and make all your problems go away.

Instead, be thankful. Very thankful, in fact, that these good people have taken their hard-earned money and shared it with you by supporting your business.
A while back, I had the opportunity to observe myself from a distance by a chiropractic student who had shadowed me for a week or so. A month later, I received a copy of his evaluation of his time spent in my clinic. What surprised me was that, of all the things he learned, he brought to my attention something that I have done for years without even thinking about it. He wrote:

“In some small way, you communicate to each and every patient that they are special and that you are thankful they are in your clinic. Sometimes you simply say “Thank you.” Other times you say “I’m glad you were here today.” Still with others, your greeting and smile says “It’s great to see you” even though you didn’t voice those words.
If there is one thing I learned from this experience (and there were many), there is tremendous power in politeness. You treat your patients like friends, with respect and genuinely act pleased to see them. In response, they listen to you intently, follow your recommendations and trust you immensely.

Give Gratitude Freely
I share this with you not to toot my own horn, but because I believe it is something so simple, something so rewarding and something so powerful that each and every doctor ought to be communicating their constant gratitude toward their patients.
If you attempt no other items listed on this email, please be genuinely, sincerely thankful. It feels good to acknowledge others. It will help build goodwill in your practice, in times when goodwill is hard to find.

At the very least, gratitude builds a bridge of friendship toward your practice, one step at a time. And gratitude is the one powerful, pleasant and pleasing practice builder that you can give freely (and literally for free) that every patient is sure to enjoy!