I recognize that I’ve decided on a very lofty title for this blog. But I really do believe that by time you’ve finished reading this…. you’ll agree that what I’m about to tell you just might change how you run your practice forever.
So just to throw you off the track for a moment, I’m going to start by telling you that this week, I reviewed the insurances required in my business. But stay with me here, because I promise this blog IS NOT about insurance. It’s about YOU.
During the review process, I was asked to list the assets and liabilities of my business. I started with the tangible things: my car, my computer, the customer base…
It was a pretty sad little list.
Could my business operate without the car? Reluctantly, yes.
Could it work without the technology? Yeah, we could get by without it for some time. My customers aren’t going to drop dead if I can’t email them for a little while.
But could my business operate without ME? Ummmmmmmmm… NO. Not right now.
So here’s the funny thing: I maintain my car so that it remains operational (we get it serviced quarterly and my son Anthony makes sure it’s cleaned from time to time). I back up my IT systems to make sure they don’t go down, and if they do, I’m not working by candlelight with a feathered quill and parchment scroll.
But me, the single, most important asset of my business – the ONE thing my business can’t operate without right now? I’ve had to learn that I need to manage and maintain myself, just like any of the other systems and tools in my business.
The notion of managing and looking after myself has been a long and hard fought lesson. Much like any private practitioner, I need to be in peak condition so that I can think, sell and deliver our services effectively.
YOU are the single most important asset in your business, and I also have the sneaking suspicion that you may also be the least looked after, least maintained and least respected CEO.
If that’s you, you are not alone.
We health professionals are awesome at helping people achieve their health and wellness goals. We take people on a journey from a place of sickness to a place of wellness. We might not be there for the whole journey, but there’s no denying that you are an integral and significant part of that transition from problem to solution for your clients.
The work we do is hard. Have you noticed?
Sure, it’s rewarding and fulfilling – but how many times have you heard your friends or new acquaintances say, “Oh, I could never do what you do?”
It’s an incredible privilege to work with people when they’re at their most vulnerable and scared – but it’s also really darn difficult.
This is why we hear of so many health professionals who are:
- Over worked
- Fearful of their positions
- Terrified of not being good enough
- Not sleeping
- Not eating
- Eating too much
- Not exercising
- Living on diet coke and fries
- Seeing 12 clients in a day
- Driving for 2 hours to see 12 clients in a day
These are all people we know! Or maybe, this is you – the clinician who is in private practice trying to do it all and be it all to everyone, all the time.
We all know that the rate of burnout among health professionals is high. After doing this work for 20 years, one of the few constants in my career has been witnessing the churn and burn of clinicians and consultants who are working unhealthy hours, in unhealthy environments, until they just couldn’t take it anymore.
Many of us take the opportunity to start a private practice because we wanted some control over our working hours, work demands and our environment. I chose to be in private practice because I was still in search of a career that would afford me freedom, fulfillment and flexibility.
But the cold hard truth is this: transitioning into private practice will still leave you with a problem that no one can solve for you.
Yes, your work environment might be different, the number of clients have changed, the type of work might be different too… but did YOU change? Or are you still repeating the same patterns of burnout and overwork in your own business, continuing to ignore the most valuable asset of all…. Yourself?
Throughout this series on private practice mastery, we have focused on controlling and managing the things around you – your marketing and sales, your operations…. But ultimately, these things are superficial and only represent the surface issues in our business. The one thing holding each element of your business together is YOU. If the most important part of your business isn’t operating at its best, then everything else is doomed to be substandard.
That’s scary, isn’t it?
I know that most of us fear that we will be found at as imposters who were never good enough… and part of what underlies this fear is the knowledge that we aren’t taking care of ourselves so that we CAN operate at our best.
It isn’t going to matter how you change your work environment, or how many clients you see in a day , if the person with all the knowledge, expertise and skills is:
- Always late
- Behind on their clinical notes
- Always fighting a headache
- Always battling off a cold or flu
- So time poor that they forget to go to the bathroom during the day
- So so so tired, all the time
- Snapping at everyone around them
Because we have a fundamental problem that no amount of managing the “external” is going to fix.
Managing yourself is a key to Private Practice mastery. If you have a full practice and you want to grow and deliver your service offerings (otherwise referred to as a multiple income streams) then you need to be perform at your best. And this best isn’t the same for everyone, but there is ONE underlying truth: If you don’t look after you, then no one else will.
YOU are just that important.
I need you to read this and be confronted by this, because if you are not managing YOU then you can’t help the people who need your help. You will NEVER be able to have the impact on your clients and community that you truly want to have, in your heart of hearts. You will NEVER be able to find the freedom, fulfillment and flexibility in your work and life if you don’t start thinking about YOU – and getting real about managing yourself.
And please. Managing yourself is not about the trip to the nail salon or the day spa on the weekend. They are awesome things to do and have in our life, but that is not self-care nor is it proper self-management. These are band-aid solutions that do not address the issues behind how we look after ourselves day in, day out (when nobody is looking). We need to get real and vulnerable about what it takes to manage you – the single most valuable asset there is.
Where do we start? Well. We start where we are. Let’s take a moment to review YOU:
- How well are you running? Do you have the energy we need to not only work, but also live? Are you well rested and engaged? What is your nutrition like? How are you fuelling yourself? Are you managing what goes into you so that the expectations of what you can produce, execute and create can be met? After all we don’t expect a Formula 1 racing car to operate on sugar-free Red Bull, do we?
- What are the best times of the day for you to actually do your work? We all know that some people are “night owls” and others are “morning people” – so what is your natural rhythm? When is it best for you to undertake all the tasks in business? Personally, I have to do the cognitively demanding tasks in the morning. The finances, the writing, and the clinical reasoning all need to happen in the morning. I can see clients from about 10am-3pm and then I’m done. In the afternoon I am generally less energetic so I can do small tasks that are important but don’t take a lot of energy. What is the best time of the day for you to be doing what needs to be done?
- How do you rest, replenish and refuel? This includes breaks and time away from clients and from work. Many people who follow me on Facebook will know that I take regular breaks away from my work. I can’t tell you the amount from times I have had people say to me “Jo you look like you are always on a holiday”. That’s not just a lifestyle choice perse, that’s necessary for me. I take at least 1 week off every 12 weeks, and 4 weeks over Christmas and New Year. I also need a long weekend every 6 weeks. I know I need this because when I don’t – I get a migraine, I get sick, I can’t sleep, I don’t eat right, I lose my temper, I isolate myself… I also work from home, so having a holiday at home doesn’t work for me – I can’t seem to shut off. So, I don’t fight that anymore. I love working from home, and I also love taking a break away from home. That is how I manage me. These breaks are like a RESET button for me. This is how I can get so much done in what appears like a short amount of Because in the time I do dedicate to my “work”, I am operating at the best I can.
- How do you behave when you’re under stress? This is such a key to being able to break the unhelpful self-sabotaging behaviours that we all have. This will not be the same for everyone. However this is a NON negotiable for me working with my coaching clients. This is what we will do first. We will get down and dirty and work out how we behave when we are under pressure, so that I as the coach can make sure I am not enabling self-sabotaging behaviours while also ensuring that I am coaching my clients through this process of self-development. Our work is hard and being a private practitioner is also hard. Learning how we respond and behave when we are under pressure and then creating a risk management plan for this behaviour – now this is priceless.
- What are you doing that you need to be doing less of or NOT at all? Let’s face it – we don’t ask the company vehicle to also be the printer. We don’t ask the company telco to also act as the Electronic Health Record. Are we asking the most important asset in our business to do things or complete tasks that quite simply should not be done by this asset? Again, this is going to be different, depending on the type of practice you are wanting to build and the type of person you want to become. What do you need to be doing less of, or not at all? What is NOT a good use of your knowledge, skills and abilities? Please don’t think that you need to learn how to improve your weaknesses – well, not all of them. Learn what you can delegate, learn what you need to be doing more of. Learn that it’s OK to build the practice of your dreams and seek out the people, tools and resources that can help bring this idea to life – YOUR LIFE.
Only when you’re well managed can you operate at your optimal level. Only then can you live and work congruently and feel aligned with the person you want to be on a daily basis.
I don’t think you need me to explain just how big the benefits of managing yourself really are. But imagine – imagine operating at best, living your life the way that works for you based on where you’re at right now. Imagine feeling well rested, energized and engaged. Imagine thinking about your work or your clients and actually smiling or feeling excited, and still having plenty of energy left in the tank to engage with the people you love.
Imagine knowing that you have sufficient income to meet your needs – and your wants? Imagine not feeling guilty about looking after yourself – and imagine what it will feel like to meet your friends, and when they ask, “ So, how are you?” being able to respond with:
I am awesome. I love my life.
This is the power of managing yourself well.
If you’re a clinician in private practice ready to master yourself – then I would love to talk about how I can help you get there. The first step is to book in for a free 30 minute consult with me so we can get to know each other a little better. You can do that by clicking on the big purple button below.
In the meantime, I’d love for you to share with me – how well are you managing you right now? What needs to change and what change can you make TODAY?
Here’s to your success,