THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
secret of success lie in your attitude? This O.D. thinks so.
BY ROBERT A. KOETTING, O.D., F.A.A.O.
We've all had someone
who's made a positive influence on our professional careers.
Surprisingly, the person who had the biggest positive influence
on mine wasn't my optometrist father, nor my favorite high school
teacher or even some college professor. It was Earl Nightingale
who simply repeated, "You are what you think you are."
His name doesn't mean
much today because he died long ago, but Earl Nightingale
literally changed my life. His motivational messages were a big
part of the success I achieved in my career.
Do you know
where you're going?
"If you can't sum up your goal in one sentence, then you don't
know where you're going."
It was 1960 when the
contact lens field held a lot of promise, but I was nursing some
serious doubts about getting involved. What was my goal? I really
hadn't thought about it.
a rudderless ship, constantly moving but never getting anywhere.
I saw many colleagues, discouraged one moment and boasting about
unrelated activities the next. They spent time on pursuits that
added nothing to their practices.
solution was simple. Set a goal and face every decision by asking,
"Will this help me meet my objective?"
So, I sat down and
clearly defined my goal. In the process, I learned to spend for
promotion, lease newer instruments and borrow to expand inventory
without waiting for patient volume to justify the expense. I
hired personnel and planned for a practice that wasn't to be for
quite a while. I wasn't able to afford a consultant at first, but
I hired one as soon as I could. Holding personal expenses down
and keeping a high profile wasn't much fun, but it made the
difference between success and failure.
Sure, I made mistakes
and paid for every one of them. For example, I learned the hard
way that higher rent for the right location is a good investment.
When I moved into a high-rise office building in an upscale
neighborhood, the practice boomed. I realized afterward that I
should've done it sooner.
"Get good at what you do." The message reached me when
things couldn't have been worse. Grasping in every direction, I
was practicing general optometry, selling instruments and
desperately searching for a greener pasture.
We call it niche
marketing today, but 40 years ago, it was focusing every bit of
energy in one direction. I established my specialty as contact
lenses and focused all my energy in that direction. Almost over
night, competitors became my sources of referral. Because my
practice was a different kind of practice, patients were willing
to spend more for top-notch service delivered in an attractive
"The magic word is attitude." A truer statement might
never have been made.
From the day I first
heard that statement until I retired 25 years later, I was
confident of success. And sometimes confidence in your own
abilities can make the difference in achieving your goals. I didn't
achieve outstanding success by many standards perhaps, but more
than enough to give its source some genuine credit for this
never met Earl Nightingale. I heard him speak once, but
regrettably, I never got to shake his hand. However, I'll always
be grateful to the man who provided those words of wisdom.
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Optometric Management, Issue: February 2001