Success – it's what we all strive for in life. Whether we want a successful career or relationship, we all seek the best in
ourselves and others. And most veterinarians achieve success. You're successful because you were accepted and graduated from
veterinary medical school; you're successful in your daily practice; you've probably been successful at most things in life.
And therein lies the problem. Because we've been successful most of our lives, we become resistant to change. After all, we've
made it this far doing what we've done, why should we change?
As a practice owner, management consultant, personal trainer, and triathlon coach, I frequently have the opportunity to work
with individuals who want or need to change. Maybe they want to take their veterinary practice to the next level or perhaps
they want to lose weight or it may be an employee I'm trying to promote, whatever the objective, these people are confronting
change. How successful they'll be at reaching their next set of goals largely depends on how successful they are at overcoming
their resistance to change.
Time to change
I've discovered over the years that it's usually our own actions and behaviors that limit our progress. All we see is that
some element of our life isn't what we want: decreased income, decreased intimacy, decreased happiness or health. In other
cases someone else, a boss, physician, spouse or friend has encouraged us to seek change in some part of our life.
Recognizing our bad habits
The cause of these problems, more often than not, is rooted in our behavior. We have developed dozens of bad habits we carry
into our work environments and homes and repeat them over and over. These bad habits can be cured by 1) identifying them,
2) demonstrating the damage and confusion they create in the people around you, and 3) showing that with a simple tweak of
your behavior the negative, damaging effect can be converted into a positive one. Only by recognizing our bad habits can we
ever hope to change them.
As successful individuals, we often shrug off the idea that we may be fallible or endangered. After all, we're successful.
But are we deluding ourselves? Everyone makes some or all of these assumptions, either out loud or internally:
• We overestimate our contributions to our work.
o Delusion: "If it wasn't for me (the veterinarian), there'd be no business."
o Reality: The practice is a sum of its whole. Many clients come in spite of the veterinarians; they are bonded
to the caring and capable staff, prefer the location, or need the convenient hours.
• We take credit for work, either partially or completely, that others truly deserve.
o Delusion: "I saved that obstructed dog's life."
o Reality: The entire veterinary healthcare team saved the obstructed dog's life.
• We have an elevated opinion of our professional abilities and how we compare to our colleagues.
o Delusion: "I can't believe what poor medicine they practice at ABC Veterinary Clinic. I would never miss that
o Reality: Maybe, maybe not. We're rarely as good as we like to think we are.
• Conveniently forget our failures.
o Delusion: "I've never done that."
o Reality: You probably have. More than once.
• Inflate our contributions to the profitability of the practice while ignoring the costs of inefficiencies.
o Delusion: "I produce more than anyone. I do all of the complex surgeries and see all the complex medical cases."
o Reality: The amount of staff and resources needed for these complex and expensive cases may actually result
in lower-than-expected profitability. Gross revenue is not an indicator of profitability.
These delusions are the result of success, not failure. We wrongly assume that because we've been successful in the past we
will be successful in the future. And that ain't necessarily so.