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September, 2012

The Foundation of Practice Success Starts with Four Habits

By Dennis Buckley, DC

Success leaves clues. The most successful and fulfilled people in every walk of life and business do things others do not do or are not willing to do. These clues are around us all the time. If we are open to learning what they are, we can model them in our daily lives and use them to create success. We can discover them through studying other people, through reading books, listening to CD's and through life experiences. Mostly, we can discover clues if we are aware of and look for them. By studying and modeling people who are successful, meaning the people who are doing what you want to do, living the life you want to live, serving and helping other people in a legal, ethical and moral way, we can see what the clues are for success.

Back in chiropractic college, we receive a formal and a clinical education. After college, graduates soon find out that there's an essential missing piece to their education and success. The essential missing piece is in how to build a practice and to attract patients and actually have them seek you out for care. This part of the equation lies in the subjects of marketing, sales, networking, business and personal management. New doctors also learn that the things they thought were the most important somehow now take a back burner to the challenge of to build a practice? How do I attract patients? How do I communicate? How do I network? How do I market? How do I get good public relations? And how do I close the deal? How can I get people to understand what I am offering and how it can be the solution to their problem? How can I get them to commit not only their time, but their resources or their money so they can receive the services they need?

Unfortunately I believe that most doctors do not appreciate the need for this education while they are in school. School at best can prepare you to obtain your license and to give you the tools needed to be a chiropractor such as the art, science and philosophy of chiropractic. But the actual business of how to be a chiropractor or run a chiropractic business must be developed outside of the formal education. The real education begins in building a practice, even if you work for someone else, while learning to apply your skills as a chiropractor in helping people.

When I first started in practice, I had the good fortune to have two people who had a profound affect on my success as they mentored me on how to be successful in my practice. I was also at that time very amendable to learning so I was coachable. I wanted to be successful so what they suggested I took seriously. I found doctors who were doing what I wanted to do, practiced in a way I wanted to practice and achieved a level of success I aspired to. I thank Dr. Mike Gooing and Dr. Michael Budincich for their guidance and inspiration every day. Dr. Mike Budincich told me the very first time I met him that, "Success is when preparation meets opportunity." I have always remembered that and that was the start of my success education. I wanted to prepare for success so when the opportunities presented themselves, I would be ready.

Successful Habits

They also showed me that successful people in any endeavor have certain habits that struggling people do not have. They are willing to go the extra mile and they work harder than everyone else. Those two habits were already part of my make-up so it was easy to do and resulted in success for me personally and my practice.

Early on, I had a service mind set so I was very involved in my state association and, in 2004, I was elected president of the California Chiropractic Association. Along the way, I served in a variety of positions and one position that I enjoyed the most was liaison to the Student California Chiropractic Association.

Because of the help I received as a student and as a new doctor, I wanted to give back and help students be successful. In talking to students and offering to help them, I saw certain traits in them as students that could have a profound effect on whether or not they would be successful. This played out over the years as those students who had that special something transitioned into successful doctors quite easily and those that did not have it struggled. I knew there was something there and I wanted to find out what it was.

I remember that Dr. Budincich had given me a book to read called, "Think and Grow Rich," by Napolean Hill, a classic. Mr. Hill, at the urging of Mr. Carnegie, made a study of the habits of the most successful men of his day. This included Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Mr. Ford, U.S. Presidents and leaders in the fields of business and education. He interviewed them to discover what they did that contributed to their success and helped them to continue to be successful and "Think and Grow Rich" was the result of that study.

I questioned why a group getting the same education or receiving the same training could produce such drastically different results. Was it the education and training or was it the individual that had the most influence? What did the successful doctors do that produced different and better results than the others.

In 2011, I started my research by contacting and interviewing some of the most successful and well-known chiropractors in our profession. I wanted to know what their habits were. I wanted to know what their mind set was. Why did they produce results and others didn't. This study included successful chiropractors, practice management leaders, chiropractic advocates associated with the profession, chiropractic school presidents and new graduates who have successfully transitioned from student to doctor. I asked, "What were you like as a student in chiropractic college? What habits did you develop or already have in place that served you well when you transitioned from student to doctor? What was missing when you went into practice and how did you obtain it? What habits have made you successful and how do you maintain your success? Looking back, what advice would you give to students or new doctors in practice or even struggling doctors that they could use to prepare for success?"

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