Two of my favorite quotes in health care that I’ve heard recently…
“I almost quit the field when my friend told me his wife’s idea of exercise is to draw a bath, pull the plug, and fight the current.” Ogie Shaw
“My healthcare plan is to just befriend a doctor and slip in health-related questions during conversations.” Nate Armbruster
I won’t lie to you. I exercise so the first quote was funny and sad but did not apply. However, my best friend is a personal trainer. Take that any way you want to.
We talk a lot about how to improve your business, how to ensure it is healthy, which metrics are critical to track to build on your successes and seize on your opportunities, how to identify industry trends and carve a path for differentiation, and ultimately growth. As we head into the new year, I would never be so trite as to encourage you to set a new year’s resolution, but I will say, your business doesn’t work if you can’t.
I know of what I speak, as I have been sick for the last month. Nothing serious, just that cold that lingers like a bad refrain. My mother will confirm, I have the immune system of an ox. (I don’t know for sure if oxen have strong immune systems but at least it conjures an image.) Nothing takes me down. Until now. Life, it seems, has become ever-so-slightly overwhelming and my body has decided to call it quits. This after changing doctors to get access to more thorough and customized health maintenance advice as I age, changing my diet (to what I won’t say so as to avoid the virtual eye roll) to set my health on the right track, a more automated track, and finding ways to spend more time with myself, to find joy in the everyday, the quiet moments, those we so often try to fill with excess.
If, as I stated previously in a Tip of the Week article, our business is our baby, then we, as a result, are the adult in the room. If we don’t carve out space to take care of ourselves, to put the oxygen mask on first, no amount of metrics tracking and corporate goal setting, will outpace inevitable exhaustion…burnout.
I recently read an article detailing the intricacies of “fair” wages. The pivot theme of the paper was that everything is not as it seems. As with most things, the leading message, “I don’t get paid enough”, coming from your employees, potentially even in your own head, the owner’s self-talk, is not quite that simple. This author argued, the seemingly sudden feeling of inequity on payday is rooted not in position vs. pay, but productivity vs. pay. Let me see if I can explain.
It used to be there would be a meeting and all parties would go back to their desks and work together to find a solution, utilizing only the collective intelligence and expertise of the internal group. Now, not only are employees and owners expected to tap the knowledge of the masses via Google searches and trusted industry websites after leaving a meeting with a task, but one is also expected to come to the meeting with the answer, to be prepared for every inevitability, laptop in hand. This creates a culture of anxiety. Knowing the answer before the question is asked is something that maybe we need only apply during traffic stops. Do you know why the frame industry is growing at a meager 2% and what your practice intends to do about your frame board space while ensuring your markup strategy compensates for the new tariffs without penalizing the patient, thereby reducing your capture rate even further in the face of online competition, which has sprung up in the past 5 years due to a shift in experiential retailing expectations from the Millennial and Gen Z consumer…is a tougher one. The hard questions we face need not demand immediate answers.
This Expectation of Expertise bleeds into the Push for Productivity, the second flame on the candle with two ends. Since this morning, I have accumulated 44 tasks on my to-do list, 85 emails in my “come back” folder that require an amount of time to move forward that I don’t have to give, 2 unread emails, 5 unread text messages, and countless other forms of communication with an expectation of a 24-hour response time all vying for my attention. As we have come to rely on digital communication, and have enjoyed the connectivity it affords, the consequence is the Push for Productivity. The sheer number of things one person can get done in one day is equal parts astonishing and unsustainable.
Knowing the things that drag on our time, and ultimately may contribute to a decline in our health, is the first step. We cannot fix what we cannot see. We cannot begin to answer questions we have never asked. In the new year, I implore you, to find amongst the anxiety-provoking Expectation of Expertise, and the never-ending Push for Productivity, the Space for Self-care. Resolve to pull the plug on unnecessary busy-ness, take solace in your friends, and have a wonderful Holiday season.
Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT and studied branding abroad at the University of Westminster. Her most recent positions include Merchandise Manager for Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Northeast Regional Trainer for Solstice Sunglasses. Susan started her own business in 2009 and sold it in 2016 to return to Connecticut and begin working for IDOC, helping other small business owners find success on their own terms. For questions or comments about this article, please contact email@example.com.