MMM Summer 2011

Regular subscribers know that each Summer Bill does something a little different. This year he shares the most important lessons learned during his first 30 years as a chiropractic patient and advocate.

Monday Morning Motivation | Patient Getting Problem

June 6, 2011

Most chiropractors have a patient keeping problem, not a patient getting problem.

It's one of the most significant characteristics distinguishing those who practice chiropractic from those who practice chiropractic medicine.

Because chiropractic care can enhance the ability to accommodate or recover from physical, chemical and emotional stress, chiropractic care can be a lifestyle adjunct, like brushing and flossing, not merely a short-term diet of pain relief.

Those with a voracious appetite for new patients often fail to effectively communicate this precept. Instead, their practices seem to attract those who want only the most superficial symptomatic relief. While better than drugs and surgery, this form of chiropractic takes on the characteristics of a medical practice, without its cultural authority, acceptance and effortless stream of new patients.

Review the trophy case of inactive patients in most chiropractic practices and it appears getting new patients isn't a problem. But apparently keeping them is!

Monday Morning Motivation | Long Term Relationships

June 13, 2011

Long-term relationships are more rewarding than short-term relationships.

On purely a financial basis, of the nine chiropractors I've received care from, chiropractor number seven and number nine, whom I saw eleven and six years respectively, collected more from me than the others combined.

But that's not what I mean by more rewarding. I mean the more valuable emotional and spiritual rewards of seeing patients grow, blossom and create offspring; to be an active participant and witness as they grow and flourish. That's where the "juice" is! That's where the soul satisfying sense of significance is found!

Naturally, most of these practice members are hardly suffering from the aches and pains whose relief become such an easy and traditional measure of success. Instead, success is counted by productive lives, intimate marriages, meaningful conversations and assisting others becoming more fully themselves.

How are you keeping the excitement alive on the 300th adjustment?

Monday Morning Motivation | Beliefs

June 20, 2011

Patients do what they do because they believe what they believe.

This runs counter to the popular, but incorrect chiroism, which suggests that patients "would do what you do if they knew what you knew."

Instead, there is a profound disconnect between knowing and doing. Most of us know that regularly flossing our teeth would enhance our dental hygiene. Yet, most of us neglect this simple, inexpensive procedure. Why? Because we believe something about flossing. Or our teeth. Our future. Our time. Or something else.

Bottom line? Behaviors are symptoms. We act in ways to remain congruent with our beliefs, even if we're not conscious of them. And, like most symptom treating, nagging patients about what they're doing (or not doing) to enhance their health and well-being is largely a waste of time. Instead, seek to uncover what they believe about themselves (or you) that would produce such unhelpful behaviors.

Monday Morning Motivation | Adjusting Above the Atlas

June 27, 2011

The busiest chiropractors recognize they're in the belief-changing business.

Since patients do what they do because they believe what they believe, then one objective is to be an agent of change. Yet, patients rarely show up in your practice because they want a more complete and intellectually honest understanding of health principles!

Instead, most patients merely want to feel better. And herein lies the tension. Many chiropractors believe that producing great symptomatic improvement without the use of drugs or surgery will change a patient's wrongheaded beliefs.

Hardly. In fact, great results may inadvertently affirm countless unspoken beliefs about their spine, the "outness" of a vertebra or your even role as a mere spine mechanic!

Chiropractors with stable practices full of lifetime once- and twice-a-monthers know that adjusting above the atlas is far more important than adjusting below it. In fact, if forced they would choose the former over the latter.

Monday Morning Motivation | Buying the Message

July 4, 2011

Patients buy the messenger before they buy the message.

It's tempting to think that patients are persuaded by the words you use, your beautiful office or golden hands. But the fact is, they buy you first. Only then do you have any hope of conveying the principles of chiropractic in a meaningful, life-changing way.

Do you show up as you? Or are you acting, playing the part of being a doctor? Do you show up transparent, revealing your motives and biases? Can patients come alongside, or do they feel distanced by your "professional" detachment? Do patients sense they are with a facilitator or someone assuming superiority? Do patients feel physically and emotionally safe in your presence? Do you exude confidence and encourage vulnerability? Does being around you make them feel big?

It runs counter to what others teach but showing up authentically you is the only place of lasting influence.

Monday Morning Motivation | Patient Teaching

July 11, 2011

What passes for patient education is far less effective patient teaching.

In an effort to change patient beliefs, many chiropractors unleash an aggressive patient education regime. Only problem is, it's actually patient teaching.

Teaching is outside-in. Education is inside-out. Big difference.

Most of us are skilled at resisting the self-serving outside-in overtures of others, whether a telemarketer, a commissioned salesperson or the guilt-laden pressure from a friend or loved one.

If you're inclined to change a patient's belief, realize that the ear raping of at the X-ray view box or elsewhere actually benefits you more than them. If it seems to work, it's because patients sense someone who is certain and confident. That's the compelling part—not the angles, foraminal occlusion or compromised curve!

Instead, be curious. Ask questions. True education is the result of new synapses formed by attempting to answer a question. Do you have a better explanation?

Monday Morning Motivation | Ask Rather Than Tell

July 18, 2011

Abandoning an old belief is more likely from asking rather than telling.

Impose your beliefs and you'll face resistance. But come in under the radar by asking questions and you have a chance of overthrowing the status quo by creating the unsettling intellectual dissonance that is the necessary precursor to jettisoning an old belief.

Most patients are quite happy their germ-fearing, symptom-treating, drug-taking notion of health. They're not looking for an "education."

So, ask more questions. A Socratic approach holds the greatest promise for disrupting the status quo and creating an opening. Find out how they think the drug "finds" a headache. Uncover the stress they think caused their subluxations. Discover their explanation of artificial immunization, fevers and countless other dimensions of their health experience.

The possible questions are endless if you're curious about what patients believe. And it's worth it. Because software (beliefs, conscious or otherwise) controls hardware (behaviors).

Monday Morning Motivation | Chiropractic Virgins

July 25, 2011

Patients rarely embrace chiropractic for life on their first exposure to it.

Take an inventory of your once- or twice-monthers and you'll discover they've had multiple brushes with chiropractic before embracing it as a regular lifestyle adjunct.

Yet, many chiropractors hammer chiropractic virgins, hoping to convince them to use chiropractic the way they use chiropractic. Then feel like failures when patients don't.

Truth is, patients have heard that "once you go, you have to go for the rest of your life." So, they begin care with the goal of beating the house--getting drug-free results without a long-term commitment. Worse, they think you "fixed" them with a dozen visits after 20-30 years of neglect and won't need chiropractic care again. (Is that what you believe?)

Instead, warn them of their likely relapse. Because if they discontinue care once they feel better, a relapse is almost certain. But their reactivation isn't.

Monday Morning Motivation | Your Purpose

August 1, 2011

Adjusting patients is not your purpose.

It's one of the most common unhelpful beliefs shared by chiropractors who believe that the highest calling of a chiropractor is to adjust as many people as possible.

More likely, adjusting patients is a means to help advance or pursue your higher purpose. Do you know what that is? Knowing equips you to avoid the trap of measuring your worth by how many people you touch.

If you've been seduced by this easiest of metrics, what number do you have in mind? 10,000? 100,000? A million?

It comes down to choosing between going wide (superficial) or going deep (intimate).

Going wide is often the first approach, measuring one's self-worth by focusing on how many patients are seen in a day, week or month. Yet, the shallowness of these relationships eventually take their emotional and spiritual toll as practice becomes mechanical, hollow and increasingly unfulfilling.

Monday Morning Motivation | Miracles

August 8, 2011

The patient brings more to your table than what you do on the table.

Many chiropractors have been seduced into thinking their diagnostic skills or golden hands are the key to a patient's recovery. And, given the inclination of patients to credit drugs or their wonderful surgeon for their health, it's no wonder chiropractors are equally susceptible.

Is a well-delivered adjustment important? Of course. But far more important is the fact the patient possess the inborn ability to heal. There's the real hero! That's the real miracle! Celebrate that.

Want to help more people? Make sure every patient and everyone on your team understands this simple reality. Otherwise, you may be tempted to take credit (or blame) for something that isn't yours. That's stealing. Be mindful that chiropractic care doesn't add anything or take anything away. Instead, it revives, invokes and restores what is already there, aching to be released.

Monday Morning Motivation | Caring Too Much

August 15, 2011

When you care too much it can make patients feel guilty or ashamed.

You likely chose a career in health care because you place a high value on health and well-being. In fact, restoring your own health with chiropractic may have inspired you to become a chiropractor.

It's tempting to project our own values and priorities onto patients, but few are likely to place as much value on their health as you. This is a common source of destructive judgment (and frustration) that can push patients away from the most passionate and health-conscious chiropractor.

"I should care more about my health. I hope Dr. YourNameHere doesn't think less of me because I don't measure up."

How do you know if you successfully avoid producing this guilt and shame among practice members? One way is to count how many patients are unafraid to announce their last visit, thanking you before discontinuing care.

Monday Morning Motivation | Safe to Fail

August 22, 2011

Creating a safe place to fail enhances the likelihood of reactivations.

Virtually every chiropractic patient has heard the warning that "once you see a chiropractor you have to go for the rest of your life." Naturally, this isn't true. Patients don't have to do anything. Yet, many chiropractors refuse to clear up this urban legend, perhaps in the hopes that if they don't, it will persuade patients to embrace chiropractic as a long-term lifestyle adjunct.

It doesn't work.

Instead, it creates a sense of unease, ultimately culminating in patients discontinuing care without saying goodbye, turning the front desk CA into bloodhound, causing patients to avoid you in the grocery store and prompting them to seek care from a different chiropractor when they have their inevitable relapse.

Talk about it. Laugh about it. Make it easier for patients to leave. When you do, you make it easier for them to return!

Monday Morning Motivation | Practice Health

August 29, 2011

Reactivations and referrals are the keys to a healthy practice.

Unlike new patient marketing, enhancing reactivations and referrals are signs that reveal your health: your social health.

Since many patients must start and stop care several times over many years before accepting the value of some type of ongoing supportive care, a steady stream of reactivations means your healthy detachment honored their free will agency, making it emotionally safe for them to return without an imagined, "I-told-you-so" scolding.

And since a referral is an inspired gift of trust, they reveal your ability to serve patients without resorting to guilt, shame or judgment to get them to do what you would do. Again, a reflection of the state of your social health.

Turns out, a healthy practice is a sign of your social health, not merely your adjusting prowess or marketing skills. True success is always the who, not the do.