Does your practice have a culture of can’t?

April 6, 2016

I hear a lot of talk about having a culture of service in the office. I know of some offices that are truly remarkable in their service culture. These offices have patterned themselves after Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, or other noted service culture mainstays.

The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

I hear a lot of talk about having a culture of service in the office. I know of some offices that are truly remarkable in their service culture. These offices have patterned themselves after Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, or other noted service culture mainstays.

But when I think about the doctors who own these practices, I realize that more than a “culture of service,” they have a “culture of can.” You see the “can” comes before the “service,” and it is more important.  

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The most devastating word in the English language is “can’t.” I am always amazed at the ease and frequency that people automatically default to the word “can’t.” It is a reactionary word with a protective mechanism to keep us from actually thinking. It is also a deflecting or blame-shifting word-it is usually followed by the word “because.” It is where we let myth become a mindset.

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t

Often, attendees will come up to me after a lecture to talk and share their stories. I love these conversations because I learn a lot, get to know more of my colleagues, and in all reality, it strokes my ego. Unfortunately, the word “can’t” is used way too often in these conversations.

“I can’t do a dry eye center because my patients don’t come back.”

“I can’t sell those frames because of the insurances.” 

“I can’t sell an annual supply of contact lenses because they cost too much.”

I sometimes fall into this trap myself. For example, all week, I was thinking, “I can’t get my blog done for Optometry Times because I am out of town and too busy.”

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You see, it is easy to come up with the reasons or excuses we cannot do something. It is much harder to come up with the reasons we can do something. Our practices and our lives often get silently stolen from us by the “can’t culture.” Think about the ideas you have had, and immediately your staff says, “We can’t do that.” Then they proceed to list all the reasons why.  

What about our kids? Do they ever say, “I can’t”? How do we react? What do we tell them?  We need to take our advice to our kids to heart! We can do anything, and we can grow up to be whatever we want, no matter our age. 

Next: Can people

 

Can people

I truly believe that the difference in being ultra successful or mediocre is the difference between can and can’t. If you look, you will see that most of the successful people and companies in optometry or in other professions are “can” people. They all have this spirit of being a problem solver and asking, “How can we fix that?” Listen this week to the people who say, “can” and the ones that say, “can’t.” You will see a dramatic difference.

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Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Coach Lou Holtz speak. He shared a story that demonstrates the power of “can.”  

Coach Holtz talked about his 1978 Arkansas Razorbacks. Even though they were the number six team in the nation, they were a big underdog to Oklahoma in the 1978 Orange Bowl. Oklahoma was favored to win the game by 18 points-then Coach Holtz suspended three of his top players, and the team became an even bigger underdog.

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Leading up to the game, Coach Holtz told his players that he knew all the reasons they could not win the game. He listed all the reasons that were in the media and even some that were not. Then, Coach Holtz asked his players to come up with reasons they could win. At first, no one came up with anything. Then one of the players said, “We have the best defense in the country, so we are not going to get beat nearly as bad as people are predicting.”

Although not exactly what he was hoping for, it was a start. Over the next few days, during every meeting leading up to the game, he asked the question, “How can we win the game?” More and more players started to voice the reasons that they could win. Arkansas won the game 31 to 6.

What can you and your team do this week?

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