Uninterrupted Time.

In a recent course on passive income streams, while teaching the concept of leveraging one’s time, I quoted the author of Rework, Jason Fried, who also happens to be the co-founder of Basecamp.

Fried said, “40-hour weeks are made of 8-hour days. And 8 hours is actually a long time. It takes about 8 hours to fly direct from Chicago to London. Ever been on a transatlantic flight like that? It’s a long flight! You think it’s almost over, but you check the time and there’s still 3 hours left. Every day your workday is like flying from Chicago to London. But why does the flight feel longer than your time in the office? It’s because the flight is uninterrupted, continuous time. It feels long because it is long!”

Let this sobering fact sink in: every work week, you take the equivalent of five eight-hour flights to London. These days don’t seem so long because your time and attention are constantly interrupted.

Members report back to me, after I’ve demonstrated and taught it to them, that locking themselves away in their office with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door for just a few hours each week on a Friday or Saturday, so they can work on the business, generates the equivalent of several days worth of interrupted time to work on the practice in between patients or other meetings.

Last week, I heard from one of our members, who used his quarantine time to get his book done. I’ve heard from other members who have finally plowed through their growing stack of reading materials and campaigns, strategies and samples. I applaud these smart members. Like you and I, they’ve probably realized how much time we really have each day.

The quarantine has reminded us that too many of our days were filled with attention-sucking activities that, when not controlled, conspired to drain us of productivity and fulfillment.

I read in the New York Times today that bird watching has become wildly popular since the quarantine, in terms of online activity, search data and purchases of books and binoculars. A few short months ago, how many people, if asked, would have answered in the affirmative that they have the time for watching birds?

If one silver lining of the pandemic and shutdown is that you understand the power of uninterrupted time, please carry it forward and start blocking it into your schedule henceforth.

The wealthiest and happiest people I know block their time into equal thirds in one of three categories: personal, productivity and planning. 

Like most small business owners, when you examine your time blocks, you’ll find you probably have way too much productivity time and far too little personal and then planning time, in that order. When you get back to work, pay special attention to how many production days you really need versus how many you think you need.*

When you commit to blocking uninterrupted time, you’ll discover big projects get done quickly and without too much effort on your part. When you do the opposite and try to squeeze projects and planning activities in the gaps throughout a productivity (or even worse) a personal day, you’ll find the constant interruption is maddening and exhausting.

If you purchased the 2020 Planner, you receive monthly and quarterly reminders, tips and strategies via email that nudge you in the direction of blocking more personal and planning time. Be sure to go back and re-read those emails. They might seem even more applicable now that we’ve all discovered how much time we really have in each day.

Go Where the Deep Water Is

As of November, Nike no longer sells directly on Amazon. Nike is not alone. Birkenstock, Louis Vuitton, North Face, Patagonia, Asics, Ralph Lauren, Rolex and Vans do not sell directly on Amazon either. Nestlé Nespresso dominates a huge direct-to-consumer channel and paid Starbucks $7 billion to take over the sale of coffee and capsules for Nespresso machines. The new Disney+ streaming service cut out the middleman and kicked Netflix in the shins on the way out the door.

These smart firms want to own the data and chart their own course into higher lifetime customer value, margin and sustainability in a world where 85-90% of retail purchases are still done in physical stores. Sure, Amazon dominates the online retail world, capturing more than 50% of all online sales, but don’t forget that 85-90% of all retail purchases are still completed in physical stores.

These firms know, in order to survive the Amazon apocalypse, they must shed inefficiencies and middlemen, deliver more value than the competition and delight their customers, so that everyone else is forced to follow in their wake. In business, you’re either making waves or getting splashed in the face, by the way. The deeper the water, the bigger the waves. This has been true for a long time.

Conrad Hilton, founder of the famous hotel chain, made waves when a family friend told him in 1920, “if you want to launch big ships, you have to go where the water is deep.” A serious student of success stories of Rothschild, Carnegie, Girard, Cooper and many artists, scientists and philosophers, Hilton saw a bigger vision of what might be possible with his first hotel and he started chasing his “blue ocean” strategy before anyone else thought like this.

Two important questions leap to mind as they apply to your practice: (1) Are you sailing in deep or shallow waters? (2) What must you shed and what must you control and leverage in order to reach deeper waters?

What five things must everyone in your market know about you? Do they know them, or are you hiding your unique selling proposition under a bushel? Can patients and spouses pass along these “talking triggers” to friends and family, making it easy and a pleasure to refer to your practice?

What five things need to be continued in the business and what five things must you stop doing in order to get to the next level? What five things are you not doing that you must start doing? Who or what seems to keep pushing you back into shallow water? What vendors are tying you down and need to be removed, have their contracts renegotiated or brought in-house?

These are difficult questions. They require time and patience to implement. They force you to zoom out and see a much longer runway. They push the horizon further out and they give you the time and space to attract the proper talent and strategy, in the right market at the right time.

The good news and opportunity, like Hilton realized, is that hardly anyone thinks like this.

Most new clients I meet with want to grow the practice rapidly. Like yesterday. Few possess the ability to take their dreams and vision into much deeper water and then painstakingly pursue the hard work, investment and frustrations that are required in order to implement a “blue ocean” strategy. The most-successful think like Hilton and these other smart firms sailing to deeper water

Expectation.

Indian spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy, explains that peace begins when expectation ends.

Perhaps the most dangerous trait I see in perfectionist doctors and business owners is the attachment to their expectations on how things should be; how a certain result should be achieved. They are attached to a very specific outcome.

You know this sets you up for disappointment, frustration and failure.

Instead, attach to nothing other than your belief that you can be the best at getting better, adapting and solving complex problems that others avoid. When you hit a wall, go around, over or under it. This sounds simple, but how often as a business owner do you throw your hands up and surrender?

“My employees won’t do it, my patients or customers would never appreciate or respond to that, my town is too small, my town is too big, people here just want what is cheapest, the competition is too difficult, etc.” I’ve heard these excuses for years and they tell me everything about the person who makes them and their expectations in life.

I’m not kidding when I say that I wake up every single morning expecting something or someone to massively disappoint me.

This way, everything that goes well is just a bonus. It’s icing on the cake.

Before I learned and honed this skill, employees that quit, referring colleagues that dumped on my practice and even the smallest bump in the road or business disruption used to distract and frustrate me for days. Now, I give myself about 90 seconds to be disappointed and upset and then I get back to work. Literally. 90 seconds.

AuDExperts membership is up 48% year-over-year, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have clients call and cancel their membership from time to time. Years ago, this would frustrate me to no end. “How can this doctor be so stupid?” I would say to my team. “Do they have any idea the pile of gold they’re sitting on with access to my best stuff? Do they have any idea how hard and expensive it was for me to create, test and then share such powerful and profitable marketing templates and actual campaigns that work all over the world? What are they smoking?” I would rant.

Now, I operate entirely differently because I’m not attached to a specific outcome. I put my head down and do my work. I create more value than any other advisor or consultant on the planet and I have the results to show for it. If someone cancels, that’s on them. This is still a democracy. They have the right to be wrong.

The same goes for your patients, employees and referring colleagues. How attached are you to achieving your results in a specific way, with a specific outcome in mind? Money doesn’t really care how you acquire it, only that you do it with honesty and integrity; building and delivering more value than your competition, for all stakeholders involved.

Is it time to change your expectations?

It’s fine to keep them high, but don’t be attached to any one particular way of achieving the outcome. If you do, you’ll be perpetually frustrated and disappointed in life. Learn to separate your intentions from your expectations and your results will soar. Be open to all possibilities and have faith in your ability to seek them out, receive them for what they are and always, always move the ball down the field.

Doctors and small business owners who don’t fundamentally grasp and deeply live these principles are going to be steam rolled by the new economy, algorithms, AI and intense competition.

Now is the time to take this seriously.

Strategic vs. Reactive

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a brilliant general. In the Second World War, he devised the “Eisenhower Box.” This is a matrix that ranks priorities according to importance and urgency.

 

Eisenhower didn’t want unimportant things coming to him in an urgent manner. He also didn’t want important decisions to be made urgently if time wasn’t a factor. Many business schools actually teach the Eisenhower Box, even though it was originally intended to help make strategic decisions in times of war.

 

Think about how much information comes to your desk or device. How often do you react quickly to non-urgent items? How often do you treat urgent items with a level of importance they don’t deserve?

 

Eisenhower forced his chain of command to be strategic instead of reactive. He wanted his team to go a mile deep on what mattered instead of an inch deep on a million things that were inconsequential. He wanted everyone around him to understand the difference between what was urgent but not important. He wanted them to realize that the truly important things are often not time-sensitive at all.

 

I’ll spend my birthday weekend in the midwest with two sets of great clients who are making excellent progress in their practices. Throughout our time together, my job is to not only provide resources, tools and tactical advice, but to consistently tie everything together in pursuit of a 3-5 year strategic plan. In other words, to focus on what was really important and to agree that the long-game is not as time sensitive as we think; to keep the non-important urgent distractions at bay.

 

You’ve heard me say here and elsewhere that we tend to overestimate what we can get done in a month but underestimate what we can get done in a few years. The reason this rings true with so many small business owners is that we are reactive versus strategic; we fret urgently over that which does not matter and pay too little attention, remaining too shallow, on the things that are really important.

 

In preparation for 2020 (it’s a new decade, after all), this is an excellent time to sit down with your “chain of command” and define the 3-5 big items you’ll be working on each year for the next 3-5 years, so that the year 2025 holds everything you deserve.

 

Eisenhower didn’t win the war overnight. You won’t 3X or 5X your business overnight either. If you go a mile deep on what really matters, however, you might wake up one day with a 10X practice. I’ve done it and helped many clients do the same. Everything you need to succeed is already within you. This is simply a matter of being strategic versus reactive.

 

Nothing New.

Mark Twain wondered, “whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.“

His quote could have been written 1,000 years ago as easily as today or 1,000 years from now. This is one of many reasons I like Twain. He knew how to think accurately about human nature. He focused on things that never change.

This way of thinking is an antidote to the well-intentioned, even deeply thoughtful leaders around the world that lead our nations into pointless wars, drag our economies into and through idiotic trade negotiations, levy taxes on the core tenets of growth and prosperity and deceive themselves and, sadly, their voters.

Not because they are bad people, but because they are misinformed by scholars, ego and the status quo – promulgating nonsense.

Let’s unpack these three sources of hogwash:

Scholars have strong opinions, tightly held. We joke, cerumen deeply impacted, that the local ENT surgeon tends to be biased in the surgical outcome when the procedure is named after oneself.

Some scientists are immune to this nonsense. Many are not. Agendas are plentiful. Politics is played hard. Tenure and research grants are not taken lightly. Often, unfortunately, the science is.

Ego is perhaps the single-strongest destructive force on the planet. It blinds even the best-intentioned and most-disciplined leaders, like a dust storm blinds everything in its path. Ryan Holiday was right. Ego is the enemy.

Status Quo claims a close second place to ego in the potential to destroy truth and keep entire generations of people, scholars, leaders and industries stuck in neutral or slip-sliding in reverse.

Charlie Munger was right when he said professions and industries tend to change one funeral at a time.

What is the solution, you ask?

 

Great question. First, acknowledge and understand you already have everything you need to make a difference in your life, so that everyone around you thrives. The good news is that it has never been easier to take advantage of advanced economies and technology to build a great business, learn new strategies, impact change and control the sails.
The bad news: there are more distractions (more noise, more wind) tugging at your sails. There’s more out of your control and you’re more aware of it than ever before, so it seems like chaos at all time, if you allow it.
Imagine listening to 24 hours news for 30 days and then measuring your anxiety level, confusion and frustration at the “imbeciles” Twain references. Then, imaging extracting the news from your life and asking what changes. The answer: nothing, except you would have your sanity back.

Get into the habit of assessing each day before you go to bed. Review the day in your mind.

  • What three things did you learn?
  • Where could you improve?
  • What are you thankful for right now?
  • How will you make meaningful progress towards you goals tomorrow?

 

Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Marcus Aurelius, Munger, Buffett – any many other deep thinkers, have contributed tremendously to society because they were not ignorant to misinformation.

Smart minds know a lot of misinformation comes from “scholars” who have never tested their theories in the trenches of life and business. Smart minds know the destruction that comes from unchecked ego and make it their modus operandi to buck the status quo.

The next time you see something on the news that you think will impact you or your business, give it some time to breathe. Often, it will resolve itself, die from lack of attention, like a fish out of water, or self-destruct like a moth to a flame.

If it’s outside your control, let it do what it will. Pay it no attention.

If you feel it falls within your purview, ask what the experts and the status quo can tell you, seek how your ego might impact your decision and then ask what never changes.

Twain knew his assessment of the average leader could stand the test of time. Rank your most-recent handful of important business decisions. Can they stand the test of time?

Now rank your most-important and successful decisions in the last 10-20 years. What key components can you identify inside the decision-making process for those excellent decisions and what never changes, what scholars might have done, where your ego was at the time and what the majority would have done at the time.

This is how you become a better thinker – which is exactly what I’m tasked with doing here – helping you be the best at getting better, nudging you to continue growing. It’s an opportunity the average business owner wouldn’t fully appreciated, and so it’s the highest honor to work with you here each week.

Onward and upward!

Throwing Elephants Overboard

I’ve been presenting on the power of patient gifting and marketing automation for many years. The most common question from audiences revolves around cost. I’m asked, “How much should I spend on a new patient welcome gift, shock ‘n awe package or new start ‘wow’ box?”

 

My answer has always been the same: whatever it takes.

 

Clearly, one of the top five reasons why patients don’t refer, which I review extensively in my writings, is that they aren’t welcomed to the practice in a BIG way.

 

I learned this principle from The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Development Center, The Disney Institute and by studying top producers in home and car sales. Everyone wants to feel special and important. Consumers want to know that you sincerely appreciate their business. They also want something to talk about.

 

A financial advising firm sends one of the nicest new-client welcome boxes I’ve ever seen. It’s not extravagant and it’s not that expensive, but it’s completely congruent with their avatar client and the message they want to send.

 

I’ve produced entire Loud and Clear marketing programs on this topic. If you’ve been hanging around for any length of time, you get it. This is all redundant. But, so are the Ten Commandments if you’ve been going to church or synagogue for any length of time. Repetition doesn’t make them any less important.

 

Yet, I won’t waste this entire article reminding you of the power of gifting and welcoming new patients, clients, customers or donors in a BIG way. Instead, I’ll stimulate some higher-level thinking on the dangers of cutting the small things in your business, like new-customer welcome gifts, birthday cards and marketing automation, when business slows or when the decision maker gets bored and wants to do something new.

 

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, noticed that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people in Italy at the time, similar to 80% of the peas which were produced by 20% of the pods in his garden, so the story goes. Most know this phenomenon as the 80/20 principle.

 

What most people don’t know is that Pareto was famous for another smart economic theory, clearly applicable to your practice. In it, Pareto explains, if you were on a sinking ark, you wouldn’t throw a few cats or dogs overboard to save the ship, because it would have no impact and the boat would still sink.

 

Instead, you would find the elephants and throw them overboard.

 

And so, I find myself in the frequent position of talking clients back from the edge of cutting all the things that have made them successful: convenient hours, risk-removal, putting the best team on the field, investing in the relationship with gifts, marketing automation and referral strategies, only to discover 18 months later that they’ve thrown cats and dogs overboard when they should have thrown off the elephants.

 

Hearing Care Providers: how many hours of underutilization occurred last quarter in your treatment department? Physicians, retailers and attorneys, what are your biggest line-item expenses and how much impact would it make if you found alternative vendors or strategic business partners that saved you 10% or 20% on those line items alone?

 

You might have seen in the news recently that Southwest Airlines shut down their entire operation at Newark International Airport.

 

Southwest said this decision was due to the grounding of the 737 Max airplanes until at least 2020. It might have something to do with landing fees, terminal conditions, union negotiations with bag handlers or any of a myriad of things. Southwest didn’t say, “No more bags fly free and no more peanuts and no more drinks for the customers.”

Nope. They threw an elephant off the ark. No more Newark.

 

Kill the entire operation until we can make money there. Smart, smart, smart. I didn’t get rid of my new patient gifts, shock ‘n awe mailers, welcome boxes, earmold + brain training gifts, referral campaigns and live events. Those are small cats and dogs. Thrown off an ark in times of trouble, they make no difference.

 

I threw off the BIG elephants of Managed Care and 3rd Party Networks.

 

Food for thought.

 

What You Can See.

Advertisers wasted $5.8 billion last year on digital ads that were viewed by bots and fake accounts. According to the Association of National Advertisers and fraud-detection company White Ops Inc., “Ad-fraud schemes have quickly risen and been much more difficult to measure.”

 

No kidding. If ad fraud was easy to measure, we advertisers would fix it quickly. But it’s not, and here we are, wasting $5.8 billion (with a B) each year on fake ads. This kind of makes “fake news” seem not all that bad. At least you can see fake news. Fake ads go nowhere, to walls of phones in China, called click farms (see photo below) that visit your site and click your ads but without human accounts attached to them.

Advertising platforms get rich. You get screwed.

 

This brings me, quickly, to one big, hairy obstacle in your business. Whether it’s marketing, managing your employees, running your clinic, overseeing your retirement accounts, etc.:

 

can only measure what you can see.

 

If you don’t understand how the money is made in an investment opportunity (i.e., if you can’t see it) don’t invest. If you can’t oversee your employees taking cash across the counter, then don’t take cash. If you can’t accurately predict and then count how many appointments a certain case type will require for your associates to treat in your clinics, then don’t have associates or don’t treat those cases. If you can’t count the number of people who received your advertising campaign and then measure how many raised their hand and came to your office as a result of your marketing, then don’t do it.

 

This all sounds simple in theory but, as the $5.8 billion in waste last year illustrate, very difficult in application. You can start by insisting everyone around you count. If your web design firm can’t show you how many unique visitors you had last month, how long they stayed on your site, which ones clicked where and how many of those clicks resulted in webform submissions or phone calls to your business, then fire that firm and call my friends at Jimmy Marketing.

 

I just did a webinar with Jimmy Nicholas a few weeks ago where you learned how I generated 15 new case starts in two days and 9 of those came from Google. I updated his team this week to show that it wasn’t a fluke, as we just did 10 case starts last Wednesday and six of them were from Google.

 

Jimmy and his team are the only firm on the planet that help audiologists and hearing specialists control and count what we can see. If we can’t see it and we can’t count it, we don’t do it. We want results we can take to the bank. Everyone else in digital advertising is lying to you and it’s costing the economy billions.

 

I find it highly enlightening and hilarious that Google had two full-page ads as a centerfold in the main section of the New York Times last weekend. Couldn’t Google just run more Google ads to tell us how great their platform is?

 

It’s also instructive to see Google’s former CEO and current big wigs write a book-book when they wanted to get their message out and share their experience with their “Coach,” Bill Campbell.

 

Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle didn’t write an eBook or a blog post or a series of Tweets or Google hangouts to share their message. They didn’t use Instagram or SnapChat. They killed a bunch of trees and spilled a ton of ink, then they glued all the pages together into a book-book and shipped it all over the world via carbon-spewing trucks, planes, trains and ships.

 

Why?

 

Because the executives at Google like to count. They wouldn’t be caught dead wasting $5.8 billion of their own precious Silicon Valley dollars on stuff that doesn’t work, but they are more than happy to oblige if you’d like to behave poorly and waste your own dollars on their platform.

 

Pay attention to the irony in all of this. It’s so thick you can cut it with a knife. And, for the love of all things good, just because everyone else is wasting money online doesn’t mean you have to.

 

Get in touch with Jimmy or get to one of my masterminds as a “fly on the wall” where we can teach you how we count and how we’re quickly doubling and tripling the size of most hearing and audiology practices very quickly.

 

We’ll show you how to count and control what you can see. Everything else is a mirage.

Join me and Jimmy Nicholas in Boston on Saturday, November 16, 2019 for a small-group mastermind where I will show you all of the latest consumer marketing funnels and online ads that can help you double or triple your new patient numbers this year. Seating is limited.

The Life Unlived

Adam Phillips is a brilliant writer, psychologist and regular contributor to The London Review of Books. The closest I can come to the kind of people who think at this level, is that they let me subscribe to The London Review of Books. Barely.

Although I don’t agree with Phillips on a lot of issues, I take particular delight in his assessment of couples who come to him with a desire to change something about their partner. He says, “It is not unusual for each member of a couple to know exactly what is missing in their partner; and to know, by the same token, how their lives would be different, that is, so much better, if their partner would change in particular ways.”

I see this with clients and the relationship they have with their businesses. They live as if they know more about the experiences they haven’t had, than they do about the experiences they have had.

They speak in great detail and with great longing about more new patients, employees who perform better, patients and colleagues that respect their work; how life would be easier and how it would make them happier. And yet, when I ask about the existing data in the practice, they can’t provide it. Think about that for a moment.

Smart doctors sit across the table from me and pay me tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege to do so and for my assistance in helping them achieve what they want to achieve, but they are completely disconnected from the reality of the situation, while simultaneously recounting to me in vivid detail all the benefits and pleasure they will derive from something that has not yet happened and might never happen.

Listen. There’s nothing wrong with looking forward. We can’t help ourselves. Simply realize that when you do, something in the present moment is always being overridden.

Make your list tonight. Where in your practice and in your personal life are you overriding something important in the present, so that you can day dream about what might happen in the future? Freud might label many of the things on your list as “repression,” or the burying in oneself of what one prefers not to know or feel.

In 2013, when I met my current business coaches, I knew I needed to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t rely on the industry insiders to grow my specialty practice. Yet, it had taken me nearly three years to come to that realization.

I was burying in myself the fact that I wasn’t the best at positioning, marketing, managing a business. I just wanted to be in charge. My coaches told me there was a simple solution: to get out of business and go work for someone who knew how to do the things that really mattered. Wow. That stung but he was absolutely right.

Some doctors are pissed off at the fact that their future hasn’t arrived by now, but I think they deserve everything in their lives, both good and bad. Harsh but true.

A powerful solution is to bridge the gap between what you’re looking forward to and what you’re burying in yourself that needs to be known and felt.

Get to work.

Time is Money.

Most small business owners have scores of reports they check each month to help them manage their money. Expenses and revenue are tracked meticulously. Budgets are set and regularly reviewed before new investments are made in technology or human capital.

Even the average business owner has some idea of their production, collections and expenses this week or this month and how they compare to the same period last year or last month. The more engaged business owner receives these reports daily or even twice a day, like I do. Yet, almost no small business owner manages their time with the same care and consistency. Time in most businesses goes largely unmanaged.

Think about the number of phone calls, text messages, emails, meetings and unscheduled interruptions throughout your day. Very few doctors have grasped the huge amount of waste they allow into their day because they have failed to set clear rules on how they govern their time.

Leaders at The Disney Institute state it very simply: if you want better results, raise your expectations. Is there a clear understanding in your business about how you and your employees are to spend their time?

Do you allow your team to squander away your scarcest resource through ineffective use of email, unproductive meetings and constant interruptions? What would your practice look like if you could spend more time with patients and less time on activities that do not produce results? What would your overhead look like if you took time management as seriously as financial management?

A recent report from researchers at Bain & Company looked at the time management of 17 of the world’s top companies. What they found should not be surprising. Companies are drowning in digital communication. Leaders deal with hundreds of emails per day and spend way too much time in meetings. There is not enough formal control and employees are awash in dysfunctional meetings. There are few consequences for wasting time, less work is getting done and these firms are not as productive as they could be.

Your first job as the leader in your organization is to set the focus for the coming year. Steve Jobs was known for taking his top 100 leaders off-site each year to focus on the company’s 10 priorities in the coming year. After intense competition amongst the leaders to get their priorities on the board, Jobs would take a marker and cross out the bottom seven. “We can only do three,” he would announce. Jobs would not allow Apple to waste time on things he knew the company shouldn’t be doing. This allowed the firm to innovate much faster than their competitors.

Before your next meeting, ask how you can standardize the data you need in order to quickly set strategy and review performance. Do not allow new meeting time to show up on your calendar. Focus your team so they know the rhythm of the company is set and that they will be forced to operate within it, producing results and reducing wasted time. It’s possible but it takes discipline and your effort and attention in this area of your practice will produce big dividends. No amount of skill or money can buy you 25 hour days. If you want to beat the competition, start making the most of this precious resource.

Know Thyself.

One of the most difficult tasks I face as a coach and consultant is helping doctors better understand what it is they want and who they want to become. It’s also the most rewarding part of my job. Erich Fromm said, “Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become who he potentially is.”

I’ve spent private coaching days with hundreds and hundreds of doctors and small business owners from all walks of life. Often, these clients walk out of the room with an entirely different mindset and clarity of thought, able to implement new strategies with renewed energy and enthusiasm. They leave with a vivid image of what they want to achieve in life. Sometimes, however, doctors struggle to “give birth” to themselves. They can’t see their own potential.

I’ve been doing this long enough to understand the difference between the doctors who quickly double or triple the size of their practice, those who expand confidently and open new locations, hire more doctors, see a bigger vision for their world and achieve goal after goal and those who are stuck. Would you like to know the secret?

The doctors and clients who are able to achieve so much more than their counterparts in much less time are all very realistic about who they are, where their strengths lie and are completely honest with themselves about what that means in terms of chasing down their goals. They understand other people and human behavior not because they are more gifted, more charismatic, better leaders or recipients of good luck, but because they have taken the time to get acquainted with themselves.

They are able to work backwards from their goals and list 50 ways their own biases, tendencies and weaknesses will get in the way. Then, they never go there. They go around.

By knowing yourself, you can do the same. Spend some time this week somewhere quiet. Go for a hike early in the morning. Sit and watch the sun come up and ask yourself these two questions. “Who am I and what do I want to do with the rest of my life.”

The smartest and most successful people on the planet have extremely clear answers to these two questions. Everyone else cannot know and understand others, cannot leverage and organize human capital to achieve big things and will never understand why because they don’t understand themselves.

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