Article Date: 10/1/2013

business strategies
business strategies

Facing Our Greatest Obstacle

Of the many challenges we face today, one stands above the rest.



Last month I answered the question, “What’s the one thing every doctor must do to succeed?” This month, I talk about the number one obstacle to achieving success.

Last year, I launched a live talk radio show for optometry called, “The Power Hour” ( We’ve had a diverse array of guests from an NFL coach, to a Zappos executive to the founder of LensCrafters. On most shows, at least one of the following practice challenges comes up as a discussion point from a listener: online eyeglass selling, declining visioncare plan reimbursements, HIPAA guidelines, Obamacare, too many optometry schools graduating too many doctors, crushing student loan debt, changes in EHRs and staying on top of changes in social media top the list.

Picking the most challenging

With all these challenges, is it possible to pick only one that can own the position of “an optometrist’s greatest obstacle to achieving success?” After all, aren’t they all formidable barriers to a prosperous practice, and aren’t they all important? Of course they are. But none of them are the most important. Instead, the most important barrier and road block to success is what is evident in many callers to the show. It’s a common thread in their questions and something I hear from doctors when I’m traveling and consulting. It’s despair. It’s a sense of desperation and anxiety and that “Things have just gone too far for me to fix them.” I hear everything from, “I better retire now while I still have a practice to sell” to, “I’ll never be able to retire.” Frankly, as long as I’ve been consulting, I’ve never heard this degree of negativity. It goes beyond, “Things aren’t like they used to be.” That’s true. They aren’t, and they never will be. Time continues to march on. No, what’s happening now is going beyond a sense of longing for the optometric landscape of 20 to 30 years ago. We have gone from nostalgia to panic.

There is no coasting in any profession or, for that matter, for any entrepreneur.

Some good news

Now, it’s time to put the brakes on and give you some good news.

Take a deep breath and exhale. The sky isn’t falling, and optometry can survive the changes I’ve listed. To do that, however, the first thing that needs to change is the attitude that we are helpless and have no control over our professional destinies. In reality, there is one thing in practice building that has not changed, and that’s the benefit of having a clear, nonemotional viewpoint that allows us to work smart. There is no coasting in any profession or, for that matter, for any entrepreneur. You must keep your head in the game whether you’re a dry cleaner or run a low vision practice. Perhaps our wired world is bringing changes to us at a fast pace, but having to change and stay aware of external forces is nothing new.

What you need to succeed

I’m hoping to shed a beacon of light for those of you who feel you’ve been beaten by forces you can’t control. Hard, smart work, creativity and tenacity are what you need to succeed in today’s world. And those same traits are what were needed 20 and 50 years ago. Optometry is an awesome career that can be as financially rewarding as your imagination will allow it to be. Don’t let the number one obstacle to success be you. OM


Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: October 2013, page(s): 64