By: Dawn C. Lindley
After one particularly harried workday, I was sitting on my back porch, drinking a cup of tea, and musing about the business people in my life. My thoughts kept returning to the apparently unflappable Kent Greenawalt, who, as President and CEO of the 50 year-old company Foot Levelers, embodies more energy in his sleep than I do during my most exciting, life-peaking moments.
I wondered, “What does that guy do that I’m not doing? My responsibilities and stress load are miniscule compared to his. How does he stay that positive and committed? And look at how successful that man is! He’s obviously doing something right.” I decided then I needed to know.
Working at Foot Levelers has its advantages, as the next day I went right to the source to ask him these exact questions. (OK, so he was out of town and I had to come back the following day, but I got in to see him nonetheless!)
I started right in on him: “What is your idea of success?” And his answer was so simple it surprised me.
Kent said, “Success is doing exactly what you want to do in life. Whether it is your job, your practice, your family, or anything you put your mind to. It’s giving yourself everything you want.” And knowing that wasn’t going to be enough information, he continued.
“When doctors ask me that, I tell them I have ten basic laws that I’ve developed for myself over the years. Some people might word them differently, but they are universal, proven, sound, and very effective. If you try it, which I encourage you to do, you’ll find that it’s pretty good stuff.
“My first law is the cornerstone of getting things accomplished, and it’s only two words: ‘Think big.’ These days, Chiropractors have to do a variety of things to be successful. You have to be competent clinically – but also mentally, and in a business sense.
“You know, every triumph throughout history has started out as a result of someone thinking on a grand scale. Thinking big is critical. To think correctly about thinking big, you just need to ask yourself this one question: What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? If you take this question seriously, you plant the seeds of success in your mind.
“In one survey of retired persons, they were asked if they had any regrets. You know what the most common answer was? It wasn’t anything that they did, it was the things they didn’t do. In other words, very few people were disappointed about what they actually achieved, but had plenty of wistful thinking about those opportunities that got lost along the way.
“So keep asking yourself, ‘What would I attempt if I knew I couldn’t fail?’ That opens up the floodgates – that gets you thinking about things that are really exciting to you and puts you in the direction you want to go.
“Now the second law is Learn from your mistakes. You know, failure is sort of like fertilizer. If you learn from it, you grow and become bigger and stronger and better. If you don’t, well, you’re just sort of standing in a pile of… fertilizer.
“When you take the time to analyze the positive and negative aspects of any situation, you are developing your capacity to demonstrate wisdom, and that’s very important. So learn from your mistakes.
“The third law is my absolute favorite! It is Keep on pushing. Let’s talk about this one in a little bit more depth.
“Remember when you learned Newton’s Law of Inertia from your eighth-grade science class? The law says, ‘An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless affected by an outside source.’ Your life, your business – everything around you evolves around this fundamental law of physics. In other words, your life, your business, your practice isn’t going anywhere unless you affect it. You are the outside source that makes things happen.
“To illustrate, let’s pretend your car has run out of gas near your home. You just have to get it into your garage. You don’t have to push it far at all. You are by yourself and it’s level ground. You think to yourself, ‘By golly, I’m going to get out and push this car!’
“In the beginning, you push as hard as you can – and the car doesn’t move! But after pushing for a while, you start to see things roll a little bit as you’re looking down at the ground. So you keep pushing and it rolls a little more…you keep pushing and it rolls a little more…. And pretty soon it starts to roll pretty nicely. Now you’re thinking, ‘This is a good deal!’
“But the one thing you know if you’ve ever pushed a car is – once you get it going, you can’t stop, because it was a killer to get it moving in the first place.
“This sometimes happens in doctors’ practices. They achieve a measure of success and stop pushing, and after a while the practice starts to slow down. They begin to lose that momentum that they’ve worked so hard to build up. And then they have to start pushing all over again. What you want is a level playing field going upward all the time, so you’ve got to keep on pushing.
“OK, now that we’ve got you moving in the right direction, I want you to remember the fourth law, which is: The payoff is not immediate. Let me clarify this. It’s possible for you in your practice to do everything the right way…you’re giving patient care talks, you’re motivated, you’re giving great adjustments, you’re going out and meeting the public, your happy, your staff is on key . . . everything is going smoothly. But the results at this moment might not be very good.
“On the other hand, you could be in a position where your practice is booming, but you’re really not on purpose anymore, you’re kind of resting on your laurels, you’re laying down on the job, maybe the staff is getting a little slack.
“In both cases, the payoff is not immediate. See, you get a delayed reward or a delayed punishment, depending on what you’ve done up to this point. What you do today will affect your life probably around three months down the road. So if you don’t start to see something happening, don’t give up…it will. If you’re laying down on the job, believe me – it’ll catch up with you. It’ll take just take a while, just like it took a while to get that car in motion.
“You see a theme developing here? You’ve got to keep pushing, you know there’s a delayed benefit, but the fifth law is: Continue doing the things that made you successful.
“For example, let’s imagine two people on a first date.
“The guy looks like a ‘feeling’ kind of guy, a friendly and easy person to talk to. He’s well groomed and dressed well. The girl is smiling, making good eye contact, and also looks nice. Don’t they look like they’re having a good time? You know he’s thinking, ‘This is really working out great!’ And she’s thinking, ‘What a super guy!’
“Here they are, trying to be nice and on-purpose – you know, good to one another. And then, if this is a pleasant experience (which it looks like it was) – it often leads to another get-together, and then another.
“Pretty soon, they are really an item. They both are trying really hard in this process. They’re doing the kinds of things that made them successful on the previous date!
“Then, let’s say they decide to take it to a new level. He proposes…we get what we call an I DO situation – and of course, we have a wedding ceremony. But then what happens? Everybody quits!
“And it’s just like not pushing the car, there’s a delayed reward or punishment associated with it. In essence, if you get the happy result, don’t quit! The race is not over. You’re not done, because tomorrow is another day. When you quit doing the things that got you where you want to be, the inevitable happens. So remember, however you got to the successful place, continue to do it.
“Now, I have another picture I want to show you for the sixth law, which is: A little better makes a HUGE difference.
“Look at this picture of these horses and let’s just think about The Kentucky Derby for a minute. Think about the affluence surrounding this derby. The horse owners go to extraordinary lengths to make their horse a winner – there’s all that special care and feeding, there’s a special vet, an expert trainer, a thoroughly trained jockey, lots of special grooming attention, you could go on and on. There’s beaucoup bucks invested in this!
“Now, all of the horses are pretty fast. But have you ever heard the expression, ‘won by a nose?’ Or have you seen the clock at the Olympics that counts down to thousandths of a second? Because some times the difference between first and second place is just like that! It’s so very small!
“When your horse consistently wins by a nose or by thousandths of a second, that horse is worth MILLIONS more than the one who gets number two. Think about it – millions!
“My father always told me it doesn’t take much to be successful, because all you have to be is a just a little bit better than average – and the average isn’t all that high. So remember. A little bit better makes a HUGE difference.
“The seventh law is ‘Think right.’ You’ve got to make sure your mind is on your side, because whatever you think in your mind is going to happen. Now, if you don’t believe that, just try me! Take a walk of faith and believe it. For example, what’s the worst thing you can tell your kids when they’re cleaning up after a Thanksgiving dinner? ‘That’s our good china, don’t break it!’
“The way you think is so important. Make sure your mind is on your side. You can recruit it to do anything you want, so program it for success and tell your mind what you want to happen, because you see, success is a two-step process. First, you have to think it, then you have to work to make it happen. If you don’t think it first, nothing happens. So remember, keep your mind on your side.
“My eighth law is: Be positive and committed to what is important to you. All the greats in history have been incredibly committed to what is important to them.
“Let’s talk about someone who is arguably the world’s greatest golfer: Tiger Woods. Tiger made $54 million last year in endorsements alone. We’re not talking about putting the ball in the cup here; we’re talking about the Nike Swoosh, the Buick commercial. We’re talking about smiling and saying a sentence or two – that’s it. That’s $54 million. Now, put the tournaments’ money with it, and you’re talking about a really huge number!
“Not too long ago, Tiger was in a prestigious tournament – and he was ahead by seven strokes going into the final round (which was the next day). Now, seven strokes for a guy like Tiger, you might as well say I was ahead by 300 strokes. He was just really way out ahead.
“Yet at 5 a.m. the next morning, when everyone else was hitting that snooze button, or having breakfast, Tiger was out on the course practicing key shots that he thought would be coming into play for that day. So, is he committed? You bet! Is he good? Oh, yeah. Does it pay off? You tell me.
“You may have heard your parents or teachers say to you, “If you’re going to do it, do it right.” Well, that’s a good point. Do it right. Be positive and committed. Nothing will stop you.
“One way to be positive and committed is to write it down. Remember when we said it was a two-step process? You have to think it. Writing it down is the first step in doing it. So if you think it, write it, do it – it’s going to happen. Just be positive and committed to it. There’s no such thing as being partially committed. Either you are or you aren’t. If you read these goals three times a day, it’s going to happen. I challenge you.
“OK, now let’s talk a minute about your practice. Everyone works so hard trying to build a practice, but the one thing you need to know the ninth law: Sixty-eight percent of patients leave you because of the feeling of indifference.
“This law applies to retail stores, practices, even businesses like Foot Levelers. Your patients will leave because they experience indifference – not dissatisfaction. Only fourteen percent leave because they’re actually unhappy.
“We spend so much effort worrying about new patients (and that’s important, too), but what are we doing to keep the ones we’ve got? If you can keep the ones you have, then grow new ones one at a time – that’s the way to go. Treat all your patients as though they were the only one.
“Those are nine laws, but there’s a final, tenth law that I like to leave with people. Let’s pretend that someone gave you a quart of diamonds for every one of these laws. (First off, your friends will shoot themselves because they didn’t read their Success Express and will want the quart of diamonds, too.) But this final law is more important and more valuable than any amount of diamonds when applied to your life.
“Are you ready? It’s really quite simple: Don’t sell yourself short. Whatever you think you can do, you can. You have to think positive, keep on pushing, be committed, treat everyone as though they were your best friend, and not have feelings of indifference.
“If you do these things, what you’re going to gain is more valuable than those diamonds – and you’ll feel so good about yourself.
“So put it into motion and give yourself a good 90 days. Remember, the payoff is not immediate. If you say, ‘This stuff’s not going to work!’, well, you’re right; it won’t work. Keep pushing. It just takes a while to get going. And now I ask you, ‘What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?’”