You'll Shoot Your Eye Out…Or Not…

If you’ve ever seen the movie “A Christmas Story” you’ll remember that all the lead character “Ralphie” wants for Christmas is a Red Rider BB gun. He envisioned the fun he’d have with it, but all he heard from everyone (including Santa) is “you’ll shoot your eye out”. Was he overconfident? Were those around him just too worried? What does this have to do with our practices? It’s all about dreams and fear.
When I graduated, I was worried about every possible contingency that could occur in clinical practice. I guessed that everyone felt the same way.  I don’t care how cool you are, or how excited you are to finally be working, when you sit down in front of that first patient who needs your help, it’s got to be natural to be at least slightly nervous. Eventually, experience teaches you lots of lessons and you learn to trust your training, or you go out and get more education to increase your confidence. Some outgrow their fears and others cling to them, but if you’ve ever owned a practice, you understand how many decisions you need to make every single day and the role that fear can play.
When it comes to decision making, we’re all wired differently. Some are “emotional” leaders, while others are “technical”. Some leaders jump into decisions without thinking things through and other never “pull the trigger” because they’re too scared. But most interesting to me is the difference between leaders who see the glass as half full, versus those who see it as half empty.
You probably already know what I’m talking about. How often have you seen a post about an idea and the immediate response is how it can’t be done, or worse, all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it? Someone says they want multiple offices, the respondent says that it’s too much trouble running more than one. Someone asks about giving free retainers and the answers are all about how patients will try to take advantage of you. Mention providing free sports mouthguards for teams and many will talk about the liability you’ll incur or the cost of making them. Negativity seems to hover over the discussions and often squash the dreams of those asking for help. If you’re of a cheerful and optimistic mind, don’t let them get you down.
I was once fortunate enough to attend a remarkable lecture by Dennis Finch, one of the pilots of flight 232 which crashed into the cornfields of Sioux City, Iowa in 1989. It is an unbelievable story of heroism, problem solving and optimism. (The story can be found here.) While the flight did lose all navigation control, they were able to successfully find their way to an airport using thrusters alone, saving 185 of the 279 on board. It was a miracle of an outcome and Dennis Finch repeated, over and over again, that “attitude affected attitude”. Optimism helped land that plane.
Every day we’re faced with decisions about our practices and how we want to treat our teams, patients and communities. We can choose to face it with optimism and hope and make the decisions that we know will help our practices. Or, we can be pessimistic and look for all the ways that others can take advantage of us and never do the things we want. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but I suggest that when in doubt, let the voice of optimism take over.
You went into business because you had a vision of what you wanted for your life. You had dreams and goals and probably lots of debt. It’s scary. I get that. But, when the spark of entrepreneurship strikes and a new idea takes hold in your mind, think first of all of the possibilities and don’t let others talk you out of what you see as a potentially exciting idea or opportunity. While you should always do your due diligence and speak with your advisors for any legal issues, don’t let the naysayers drag you down. People will tell you why you can’t do something and like the overplayed song says: “Haters gonna hate.”
Sure, Ralphie almost shoots his eye out but the final scene is of him fast asleep with his trusty Red Rider gun by his side and a look of absolute peace and joy on his face. The reward is often worth the risk.
Sometimes you just gotta dream big and go for it!
All the best,
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