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Park or Neutral?

Seems like some chiropractors have taken their practice out of Drive and eased into Neutral. Neutral is where you can rev the engine, make a lot of noise, burn fuel—but not actually go anywhere. Perhaps that’s better than Park, but neither moves your practice forward.

In Dr. Seuss’ amazing book, Oh the Places You Will Go! he describes this as the waiting place:

“…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.”

Are you waiting? If so, what are you waiting for?

True, we’ve never seen a practice environment like this in which…

…There is a growing demand for things natural (think bottled water and organic food), yet high unemployment and high levels of personal debt constrain many from the perceived “luxury” of chiropractic care.

…There is a growing acceptance of chiropractic with countless positive media stories affirming chiropractic, yet lacking financial reserves, an unplanned (and unbudgeted) episode of back pain is more cheaply resolved with medications.

…There is a growing acknowledgement of the physical, chemical and emotional stress in our culture, yet due to decades of banging the headache and back pain drum, few people see chiropractic as a solution or helpful adjunct to a stressful life.

These and other factors create the “perfect storm,” prompting some chiropractors to slow down and pull over to the shoulder. “I don’t dare make a mistake,” goes the reasoning. “I need to wait and see how things shake out.”

Which is actually the mistake.

If you’ve put your practice into Neutral, or worse, Park, besides being left behind, you’re losing much of the momentum you formerly had. Starting up again from a dead start is infinitely more difficult. (Just ask any chiropractor who has recently returned to the profession after an extended sabbatical.)

Pulling over is the result of a common deception that goes something like this. “I’ll sit things out for a bit, get a lay of the land and then I’ll know exactly what to do.”

Thinking that there’s something “out there” you need to adapt to is justified as brilliant marketing or being hyper-responsive. It’s not. Instead it reveals that you hold one or more of these unhelpful beliefs:

Economic downturns trump health. Subluxations are oblivious to the stock market. In fact, people’s interpretation of the stock market can actually create subluxations. This is probably related to the notion that patient’s have other priorities in December with the holidays and all, and are too busy to see their chiropractor. It’s not true. Instead, it reveals that patients don’t understand that vertebral subluxation is a response to stress. Without such an understanding, patients shun you during the holidays, economic downturns and the like.

Perfectionism. If you’re among those who are immobilized by the fear of making a mistake or who avoid taking action until the circumstances are just right, you have a lot to worry about right about now. I’ll let you in on a little secret. The key to responding resourcefully in these times is to be decisive, and then make whatever decision you make, the right one. Being tentative, uncertain or reluctant to commit is actually more damaging than making the “wrong” choice. This is a time to be active, not reactive; bold, rather than passive.

“Who Am I?” Nice try. Abdicating your responsibility at a time like this means you’re missing a huge opportunity to claim your role as a leader, influencer and meaning maker. In the same way you should be the most optimistic person your patients ever encounter, this is the time to show up confident and certain of the truth. And you know the truth. Regardless of what Wall Street or Washington does, the fact is healing comes from the inside out, mediated by the integrity of our nervous system. Have unshakeable confidence in this timeless truth and patients seem to manifest in supernatural ways, regardless of the circumstances.

Conserve What I Have. If you’ve wisely put a little away for a rainy day, your rainy day has arrived. I know. You were hoping to retire. That may not happen. Instead, use this opportunity to steal market share away from those who are fearful and uncertain. Avoid the biggest mistake that most small businesses make during a downturn, which is to cut back on their marketing. Big clue: those who invest in their business during uncertain times often emerge during the recovery as industry leaders. And I assure you, there will be a recovery. There always is.

The Good Old Days Are Gone. There are thousands of chiropractic students in the pipeline. DCs-to-be that don’t have personal experience with everyone having insurance and $100 deductibles. Chiropractors who will soon join the workforce having lived on Ramen noodles, beans and peanut butter for the last four years. They’re hungry. Idealistic. Naïve. And ready to try something new. If you’ve calcified, assumed an entitlement mentality or are preoccupying yourself by longing for the good old days, you’re toast. Believe it or not, these are the good old days!

The fact is, if your numbers are significantly down, this problem was set in motion years ago by how you have represented chiropractic to patients. I know that doesn’t solve your immediate challenge. But the point is, waiting, thinking it will give you some new insight or market-relevant direction to take will merely delay the necessary action steps.

Be the change!

Comments (2)

Dan Pendergraft:

Good blog. I was born in neutral, so the past 18 months have been intentionally trying out the gears.

Takes energy. And the discipline to DO it. But the results are showing.

Thanks Bill. Your material is always high quality.

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From May 23, 2010 7:20 AM

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 23, 2010 7:20 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Dear Bill Posture Screening Followup.

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