When he was a young boy, my grandfather lost his right arm at the shoulder after falling off the tram he was travelling on and rolling underneath its wheels. His life changed dramatically from that point on.
Suddenly he was faced with the prospect of the many things he could no longer do. He was forced to ask himself “where to from here?” But he played the cards he’d been dealt and set about living his life as best he could. It began with adapting and learning to use his left arm. For eating he had a special fork fashioned with a cutting edge on one of the tines. He learnt to tie his shoelaces using one hand. He enjoyed hunting with a shotgun and in retirement remained active as a timekeeper at the local swimming galas. In other words, he focused on what he could control and not the aspects he couldn’t.
Change is everywhere
Optometry practices (and businesses in general) are no different as there are constant changes within and outside the sector impacting your practice and effort should be focused on the aspects you can control. Some changes may be significant, are obvious and could happen rapidly (for example, the entrance of a corporate group into the market), while others are less dramatic and occur over a longer period. The latter can be more dangerous - by the time you recognise change is occurring, it can be late in the game and responding to this change can have become more difficult and prohibitively expensive. The challenge is to be aware of the changes as they happen, or before they happen, and adapt to them or adopt them to ensure your business’s success.
Too busy to see
‘Too much to do, too little time’: a common problem faced by many practice owners, especially in the light of market dynamics. Working ‘in’ the business as opposed to ‘on’ the business can be blinding. Obvious changes in the market are detected in the same way that your peripheral vision detects movements. Conversely, all too often, we can look directly at something, see it, yet not recognise the dangers it holds – a kind of cognitive dissonance. We don’t want to see it because we only see what we want to see. But you need to take the time to look up, observe and recognise that there may be a more productive and better route to take.
“The brain likes the familiar but thrives on the road less travelled” is a quote from Dr Alia Bojilova, a psychologist and specialist in resilience training, emphasising the opportunity of change. Remaining with the familiar consciously or unconsciously whilst ignoring what is changing will lead to the slow demise of your practice. As a business owner or practice manager, you will need to head down unfamiliar paths. The paths unknown will be daunting, but they can also be exhilarating and extremely rewarding, offering a chance to thrive within the challenges and opportunities presented.
Grandpa Eva knew a thing or two about travelling down the path less travelled, adapting and changing as circumstance required, and in doing so, developed a resilience long before it became a catch-phrase used in the business world. Although business is generally not a life-changing event, change with the times we must and if we embrace this change, the opportunities it affords could be life changing!
Neil Human is CEO of the Independent Optometry Group. To find out more about how IOG can support you exploring the road less travelled and make your practice thrive, please get in touch with Neil at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0210 292 8683.