Balance Your Life and Grow Your Practice

:dropcap_open:T:dropcap_close:he old saying “Seeing is Believing” became the theme to a recent trip or should we say, chiropractic reconnaissance mission.  The purpose of the trip was to visit multiple chiropractic clinics and get to the bottom of why some clinics are successful and some are struggling even if they are in the same city and sometimes on the same street.  We heard all the common complaints surrounding chiropractic. “The insurance world is collapsing. I will be successful as soon as I learn these new scripts.  This Obama guy really hates us chiropractors. I just don’t get enough new patients in this area.”  And the most common excuse, “the economy is crushing my clinic.”  After hearing all these issues over the last couple years, you can see why it was time for us to determine what the real issue was in chiropractic. Warning:  most of you are not going to like the answer.
marketing8It was a beautifully sunny Monday morning and we had everything we needed to get started.  The GPS was loaded with the clinics on our hit list, the smell of fresh brewed coffee filled the car and our carefully chosen X-factor was awkwardly quiet in the back seat. 
X-factor: n. Definition: A variable in a situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome. 
Our X-factor was a 29-year old soft-spoken former professional soccer player whose entire family was in the medical profession.  Her background was in business marketing and social media branding. Her biggest contribution to the team was that she was a not a chiropractor like us, and she started chiropractic care for the first time just a week earlier.  Her job was to listen, observe and get the opinion of the clinics and chiropractors through the eyes of a potential patient.  It would later be determined that her presence was invaluable.  
During our 5-day reconnaissance mission, we spoke to 100’s of chiropractors and visited numerous offices.  It quickly became very clear as to why a chiropractor was crushing it could be a block away from a clinic that was closing its doors.  There was substantial evidence that systems, staff and the look and feel of the clinic all contributed to the success, but the overall hands-down determining factor for success or failure was the chiropractor.  In short, YOU are responsible for whether your practice will succeed or fail.  It is not the dwindling insurance reimbursement.  It is not your location, your office manager, your technique or the economy.  Please stop with blaming the economy.  That is so 2009.  It is time to be real and admit that 100% of your practice success is up to you and what you bring to your practice. Taking this one step deeper reveals that your practices success or lack of success directly effects our profession as a whole.  No more excuses.  Today is the day that you will quit looking outward for excuses and look inward for solutions.  Take an honest look at your life and see how it affects your practice and our profession.
Now, we would never leave you hanging with that weight on your shoulders without providing the insight and a simple plan to help get you, your practice and our professional to the next level.  
The first step starts with you and where you are today.  We believe very strongly that a patient doesn’t want to see a doctor more miserable then they are. You cannot preach wholeness or wellness and not be whole yourself.  Would you want to get braces from an orthodontist with severely crooked teeth or financial advice from a bankrupt financial planner?  No, and your patients don’t want to go to a chiropractor that doesn’t emanate and balanced, growing and healthy lifestyle.  They may start with you, but they will not stay with you.  If your student loans are weighing you down, your patients will feel it.  If you are living a lifestyle that you cannot afford which is causing stress, your patients will feel it.  If you eat crappy food, never exercise and are unhealthy yourself, your patients will not take your treatment plan serious and they will leave.  Bad relationships, lack of a larger purpose, burnout, no fun or family issues will all be felt by your patients, reflected on your practice and eventually on the profession as a whole.  
So what are your stress points or your weak links in the chain that connects you to the life and practice of your dreams? Let’s start with the 7 key areas of life.  We call them the 7F’s of Oola.  The first F is “Fitness” which accompanies everything health.  Are you at your ideal weight?  Do you exercise, get regular chiropractic care and eat healthy? Be brutally honest and rate your level of fitness 1 to 10.  
The second F is “Finance”, which is a big stressor with chiropractors.  Student loan amounts are at an all time high and default rates are amongst the largest for comparable professions.  At Oola, we feel that debt is evil and we feel that if all chiropractors were debt free, our profession would thrive.  The most successful chiropractors in the OolaNetwork are debt free and rocking it.  Even our chiropractors with very successful practices and awesome incomes feel anchored if they burdened with heavy debt.  Rate your overall finance 1 to 10 based on debt load, income and monthly budget requirements.
The next F to rate 1 to 10 is “Family.”  Family is everyone you are related to by blood or marriage.  Are your family relationships supportive and encouraging or toxic and enabling?  Are you struggling with your marriage or feeling guilty about the limited time with your children?  When talking to the chiropractors, family stress plays a major role in how effective they are in their practices.  
“Field” is the next F and for you, this is chiropractic.  Chiropractors are notorious for loving and giving their life to their career and the patients they serve, but by year 12-15 many are not trying to figure out how to stay in chiropractic but get out of their clinic.  The most important aspect of helping chiropractors remain strong in this F is to have a plan.  Where do you want to be in chiropractic next year, in five years and in fifteen years?  What is your exit strategy when you are ready to retire?  When you rate this F, rate it based on how passionate you are when you go in the office, how do you feel about your current work load and do you feel that you are getting more out of your career than a paycheck.  
The fifth F is “Faith.”  Do you feel a higher purpose to your life?  Do you feel connected to something bigger than yourself?  Faith can be a touchy subject, but it needs to be hit head on.  The chiropractors that we interviewed that have a strong faith felt more confident and at peace with life.  They felt that their faith, even though never discussed in their practice, brought strength and purpose to their practice.  Rate your faith 1 to 10.
The last two F’s, “Friends” and “Fun”, carry less weight when it comes to practice success, but they need to be rated to give you and overall picture of how balanced and growing your life is.  It is very important to have the right quantity and quality of friends.  It is equally important to get out of the office and enjoy life, pursue your personal passion, have great experiences, create memories and have fun.
Now that you have rated yourself in the 7F’s, where are you weak? What areas need focus? Pick the two or three main areas of your life that are most out of balance, the lowest score, and put a plan in action to balance and grow these areas. If you are 30lbs. overweight and doing well financially, spend some money and time on a fitness regime.  If you are 6% body fat and you car is ready to be reposed, take some energy away from the gym and focus on budgeting and getting your finances together.  When you balance your life, you will feel more deeply fulfilled. Your patients will sense it, your practice will grow and your income will increase. Everything will go to the next level.
Everyone, no matter where you are in life or in practice can improve.  We can all do better and be better.  We can all grow.  You have one chance at life, please don’t settle for mediocrity or wait until it is too late to grab the life and practice of your dreams.  This will serve you better, this will serve patients better, this will serve our profession better. And just maybe, we can finally reach the “other 92%.”
Dr. Dave Braun ([email protected]) and Dr. Troy Amdahl ([email protected]) are co-authors of “Oola: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World.” They also lead the OolaNetwork ( which helps doctors reach the “other 92%” by tapping into the power of social media to market their office, grow their practice and increase their income. As of this writing their three Twitter accounts (@TheOolaLife, @OolaSeeker, @OolaGuru) have a combined following of over 250,000 “flockers.”

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