Your practice has dwindled. New patients are practically nonexistent. You have a lot of free time on your hands. But you’re not making enough money to have a viable business. You probably graduated toward the top of your class, but the clinical honors and hopeful optimism you enjoyed back then have long been sucked out of you. It’s crunch time.
Now that you’ve been humbled (or about to be), you have the possibility of becoming a tool that God can work through. Now that you’ve surrendered your dogmatism and egocentric view of the world, you can become a true servant. Now that you’re not so full of yourself, you’re empty enough to be useful.
You can no longer cower in your office, hoping that your backlit sign will magnetically attract the new patients you need. And while you want to know what you can do to escape this uncomfortable predicament, the doing comes later. First, you’ll need to become a different chiropractor. (Being always come before the doing. It’s whom you’ve been being that’s created this mess.)
Be certain. Do you know what chiropractic is? Do you know what chiropractic isn’t? Can you explain it, tell it and live it? Can you use language that is understandable, relevant and compelling? Do you have a sense of ease about why chiropractic might appear not to work? Does your demeanor inspire confidence and hope?
Be clear. Do you know the boundaries of your responsibility? Do you understand the limited social contract you have with patients? Are you okay with the fact that you don’t fix, cure, repair, rehabilitate, correct or restore? (If there’s going to be any of that sort of thing, the patient’s God-given ability to heal will be doing it, not you!) Do you get the idea that you can’t control, manage or make anything mandatory? Are you equipped to inspire, lead, suggest and encourage?
Be accepting. Are you ready to give up trying to fashion chiropractic in your image? Will you stop casting dispersions on those who deliver chiropractic differently than you? Are you ready to stop judging or diminishing patients who place a lesser value on their health than you do? Will you stop making patients the problem? Will you become grateful for those who show up, rather than angry towards those who don’t?
Be still. Do you realize that you cannot be trusted with much, because of how you’ve shown up for a few? Will you allow yourself to be an instrument? A conduit? Someone God can work through? Will you confess that your self-effort and your notion of practice are not workable? Are you ready to embrace a new way of being? Are you coachable?
Because struggling chiropractors got that way by neglecting the “being” part of practice in favor of the “doing,” they want to know what to do to escape their predicament. So, here are some things you can do:
Do less. You’ll have to stop adjusting every articulation of their body in the hopes of “earning” your money, making sure you “got” everything or merely showing off. You’ll have to stop squandering 15-minutes or more of your time on each visit, wrongly thinking that it takes that long to deliver “true” chiropractic. You’ll have to stop selling your time, and instead allow patients to buy your talent.
Do the uncomfortable. All the breakthroughs you really want will come from looking at what you’ve neglected or have become afraid of looking at. Or, by finally doing things that you’re not especially competent at. Lose the “I’ve-got-to-be-perfect” mantra that has you unwilling to join a Toastmasters group, teach the systems of the body at the local grade school or introduce yourself as a chiropractor to a stranger.
Do without. You are a servant. The patient is the master. (Or have you allowed the insurance companies to be the master?) Thinking your degree, social status or knowledge of physiology makes you superior, has to go. Seeking appreciation, insisting on respect or taking a patient’s apparent rejection of your care recommendations personally, is not only reckless and self-indulgent, but overlooks how authentic admiration is actually acquired.
You got yourself into this little mess. And you’re the one who will get yourself out of it. Fortunately, the only thing that’s really happened is your community has voted with their feet. Your empty reception room and untapped capacity is just their way of saying that you’re either irrelevant, selfish, dogmatic, distant, judgmental or unbeneficial. That’s great news! Because these are all perceptions you created. And can do something about.