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The Anchored Mind

Are you anchored?My heart goes out to the increasing number of chiropractors who find themselves struggling in practice. It can't help but remind me of the insightful question posed by B. J. Palmer: "Who can anchor to an unanchored mind?" I'm convinced that a lack of anchoring is present among chiropractors who are experiencing difficulty.

While tempting to blame the economy, the unsettled election or the other usual suspects, I'm more certain than ever that it is the worldview held by the chiropractor that is the more likely culprit.

In other words, chiropractors who are the busiest these days (and there are more of them than you think) hold a different set of beliefs and hold them with greater certainty than those who are struggling.

If that's true, and you have the desire to help more people, you'd want to know the beliefs of the busiest chiropractors. Here are some of them.

Getting Your Social Needs Met

When professional boundaries are discussed in chiropractic, it usually centers on sexual boundaries. And while from time to time you hear of chiropractors doing stupid things in the adjusting room, a far greater boundary is crossed by chiropractors who attempt to get their social needs met from their practice members.

If you're guilty of needless chitchat that borders on gossip, or find yourself languishing far longer with patients than necessary, you are crossing a boundary that costs you dearly. Oh, you don't get a bill in the mail! Instead, your influence is squandered and your mystique fades. Wanting to be liked or accepted by patients means you're attempting to anchor to them, rather than them to you!

The busiest chiropractors are friendly, even aggressively friendly, but not friends.

Faith, Confidence and Belief

Another characteristic shared among the busiest practitioners is a rock solid understanding and faithfulness in the principles of chiropractic. They totally "get" that they are not treating the patient's symptoms and instead, removing obstructions to the patient's ability to self-heal. More telling is when their recommendations don't produce the expected healing response. Rather than becoming defensive, they are more likely to be curious about what is going on for the patient that would seem to thwart the effect of reduced nerve interference.

"I would have expected to see more progress by now. Tell me about what else is going on in your life. What are some of the physical, chemical or emotional stressors that you've been experiencing?"

When chiropractic doesn't appear to "work," it's usually not chiropractic or the chiropractor who has failed; it's more likely that something else is compromising the patient's ability to self-heal. Perhaps they are still living a sedentary life, still hate their job, still drinking five diet Cokes a day, upside down on their mortgage, etc.

Chiropractic adjustments don't exist in a vacuum, but in the context of a patient's overall life.

Imagining that your adjustments are treating their symptoms in some linear fashion like a drug, practically invites a confidence-shattering erosion of confidence. You're likely to find yourself apologetic or increasingly cautious. Which makes it impossible to show up as the beacon of hope patients want and deserve.

Income As a Symptom

One of the signs of an under performing practice is a dip in income. Like patients who think their symptom is their problem, chiropractors who are struggling are often seduced by their financial pain. Treating financial pain symptoms, like the symptoms of physical pain, often makes things worse and delays more resourceful, lasting approaches.

Believing that increasing the practice income will solve their problem, misguided chiropractors will often add various adjunctive services in the hopes of supplanting their income. In fact, search the pages of most chiropractic publications these days and promises of better patient care have been replaced by increasingly shrill overtures to improve the incomes of chiropractors. Classic symptom treating.

Adding these additional products and services often work. For a season. And that's because the practitioner is excited about this new thing and its prospect of solving their financial issues. But it is short lived. Once you administer virtually any intervention (even adjustments) with the hope it will benefit you, you've broken a spiritual law. Your heart is revealed and others are inclined to mistrust you. They can't exactly put their finger on it, but there's something about you that just doesn't feel right.

Your needs will be taken care of ONLY after you serve others. If you want to make more money, find new ways to truly serve patients—something far different than scheming ways to extract more money from their insurance carrier with new procedures or billing code.

Unashamed of Their Identity

If you're embarrassed because you're a chiropractor, it will be virtually impossible to show up with the confidence and certainty patients want and expect.

I'm guessing this is one of the underlying factors shared by those who would like to see prescription rights added to chiropractic. And while you may not want to corrupt chiropractic with the addition of drugs, if you are ashamed of being a chiropractor, imagine that chiropractic isn't powerful enough, question your career choice or have even contemplated other career choices, it's impossible to show up attractive and influential. If success is eluding you, it may be because you are not 100% full invested in your practice.

Only when you know who you are and are comfortable in your own skin will you excel as a chiropractor. And more importantly, as a person.

No Shortcuts

Far too many chiropractors are still searching outside themselves for the secret to practice success. These are often self-proclaimed "seminar junkies" who have made the rounds of the popular practice building seminars, have been dues-paying members of three or four chiropractic coaching groups and yet are still looking for the secret words, handshake or procedure that will unleash their success.

Health, whether physical health or practice health, comes from the inside out. Only as the practitioner grows will the practice grow. But here's the catch. Personal growth is often messy, difficult, painful, and to some, too risky. So it is shunned in favor of manipulative scripting or strategies that attempt to control or circumvent the free-will agency patients.

Dig deep and you'll discover that many practitioners who are struggling harbor a deep mistrust, even fear, of patients. As in, "If patients don't follow my recommendations it will tarnish my reputation." Or, "If patients aren't correctly managed, they'll make the wrong decisions." Or more simply, "Patients in my town are stupid (medically-oriented)." While never spoken aloud, their resentment can't be masked by their inauthentic persona.

A Spirit of Forgiveness

It's amazing how many chiropractors harbor anger and resentment yet believe they are entitled to practice success. This compartmentalism is convenient, but ineffective. Anger and resentment leach out in subtle ways, confounding its owner. Anger and resentment are luxuries that struggling chiropractors just can't afford.

So, forgive your parents, your spouse, your ex-business partner, your landlord, your school, your sibling, the patient who sued you and anyone else you think you have some justifiable angst or deserved anger towards. Holding on to even one such resentment is a form of success kryptonite.

Remember, the forgiveness isn't for them, it's for you! It doesn't make what they did right or even acceptable. Instead, you are choosing to no longer allow it to have a hold on you. Forgive everyone for every thing. Period.

New Patient Abundance

If you believe that new patients are scarce, your practice will reflect this scarcity, getting just enough new ones to survive. Sadly, for all too many chiropractors, this belief gets created in chiropractic college.

Rounding up enough friends and acquaintances to get adjusted so as to achieve the numbers necessary to graduate, most chiropractic college students go about the distasteful job of getting new patients to serve their own needs. Instead of a spirit of service and the dream of creating a long-term relationship, far too many school clinic patients are abused. Knowing that they will be setting up practice thousands of miles away can contribute to a self-serving attitude that infects new graduates. Later, marketing the practice is often seen as "dirty," exploitative or consigned to those who must because they have poor clinical skills.

The busiest chiropractors know that there is no shortage of new patient prospects. Subluxations aren't seasonal. And tending to one's health, regardless of insurance coverage, is a function of self-esteem and the priority one places on his or her health. Further, getting new patients is about persuasively telling the chiropractic story to as many strangers as possible. Something difficult to do if you don't know who you are, unsure what chiropractic is or have a latent fear of strangers.


There is little that can conspire to prevent practice growth as a spirit of pride and arrogance. Those who exhibit an entitlement mentality ("I'm a doctor, I shouldn't have to _____") are having a difficult time these days. As are those who, after living on rice and beans for four years, think they deserve the trappings of success, whether it's the club membership, luxury car, private school or gated community.

Their busier peers are not so easily distracted. They are able to do something quite unusual; almost impossible: they are able to live conservatively but not project their meager financial means onto patients. In other words, they don't allow their own financial constraints to compromise their patient recommendations.

The result is a confident chiropractor who doesn't betray his mission by pandering, showing off or drawing attention. By living beneath one's means you avoid the mischief and temptations that can result by needing the patient more than they need you.

Showing up as a humble servant, ready to serve within clearly established boundaries, makes you magnetic, trustworthy and, as it turns out, busy.

The Anchored Mind

One of the things that make the allopathic approach to health so attractive is that it divorces the person from the condition, merely treating the condition. It's ideal for those who would rather not assume responsibility for themselves, delegating it to a doctor or drug or blaming something "out there."

If you want to turn things around, begin by exploring your beliefs. Discard the lies that hold you in bondage. Abandon the old, fear-based programming that hobbles your enthusiasm and optimism. Jettison the stinking thinking, scarcity and lack. Become the person that others say, "I want what he has. I want the peace, serenity and confidence she has. I want to know what makes him tick."

Comments (1)

Dr Mike B:

As a DE Chiropractic practioner, I commend you whole-heartily on your succint thoughts and observations.

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From October 7, 2012 9:46 AM

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