Lie #9: If I do more I'll get better results and justify my fee.
This belief hamstrings countless chiropractors. Virtually every chiropractor in an under performing practice has bought into this lie and its many tentacles. In just a mere 12 words there are three references to some form of "I" or "me," making it one of the most self-centered, inward and pervasive success-defeating lies of all.
"If I do more." This places tremendous responsibility on the shoulders of chiropractors who buy this lie. It reflects a belief that the chiropractor's job is to do all the heavy lifting necessary to "fix" the patient's problem. This is an unhelpful medical mindset that betrays what's actually going on.
If there's going to be any "fixing" the patient's body will be doing it, not you. What you'll be doing by your artfully delivered, life affirming adjustments is reviving the patient's ability to function more normally. Not to minimize the adjustment, but the hero here is within the patient.
At its best, chiropractic care is a partnership. Even with clear instruction, patients can sabotage your best efforts by what they do (or don't do) between visits. That can include insufficient sleep, poor hydration, sedentary lifestyle and countless other shortcomings. It's pure folly to invest your life spirit in something you can't control—such as what will or won't happen by adding energy to a patient's spine at opportune times and places.
Many patients will happily delegate their symptom to you to fix. If you let them. And while we can delegate a stopped drain to a plumber or a short circuit to an electrician, delegating a health complaint to anyone else is pure folly.
Doing more is often the justification for adding various therapeutic interventions. More commonly it is about adjusting secondary and even tertiary subluxations. Or merely cavitating every possible articulation. In truth, this is often a lack clinical certainty—not about being thorough.
The notion that doing more produces better clinical outcomes is absurd. Countless chiropractors adjust a single bone and consistently see extraordinary changes. Doing more is an expensive luxury that many chiropractors probably can't afford.
"I'll get better results." And just what result are you attempting to produce? It's so easy to get seduced into treating the patient's ache or pain or admitting complaint. Doing so gives you a dopamine hit as you heroically deliver the patient's desire. Which appears to happen often enough to reinforce the belief that that's what you're doing.
Because of their medical mindset, most patients begin their chiropractic care seeking a particular outcome. But you deliver a process. Whether your process will produce the outcome patient's want, and at the speed with which they are willing to accept, places you in a risky position. Because both are outside your control. Remember, you're not treating their headache—you're reducing their body's need to express the symptom called headache by reviving their ability to function as designed. For which you have zero control.
"Justify my fee." Astonishingly, after investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, many chiropractors feel guilty asking for and receiving the stingy handouts from insurance carriers. As a result, many succumb to selling their time rather than their talent.
Would you feel like you got a better root canal if it took the endodontist an hour and a half rather than 45-minutes? The truth is, amateurs take longer than experienced pros—whether getting your tires rotated, your suit tailored or your spine adjusted.
Doing more and taking longer than absolutely necessary may substitute for a reluctance to manage patient expectations, but it's expensive theater.
Spending more time so you can get your social needs met or delivering feel-good therapeutics places an unseen barrier on the number of people you can help. For many chiropractors it even stands in the way of earning a professional income. If using your resources in this way is pleasing to you, no problem. Just stop torturing yourself because you can't seem to grow your practice.
Truth: If you want better results do less and be more—which is far more challenging. Be more certain. Be clearer about your boundaries. Be an encourager. Be inspirational. Be a compassionate coach. Explain what you're doing—and what they need to do to get optimal results. It doesn't mean they'll do it, but it's the leadership necessary to avoid assuming responsibilities outside your control.
Bill Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate since 1981. He is the creative director of Patient Media and the co-founder of Perfect Patients. He’s been a regular speaker at Parker Seminars and other chiropractic gatherings since 1985. He is the author of 12 books that explore the doctor/patient relationship from a patient’s point of view. His chiropractic blog, in-office consultations, patient focus groups and consulting calls have helped hundreds of chiropractors around the world. His Monday Morning Motivation is emailed to over 10,000 subscribers each week.