Whenever I introduce the concept of competitive nature versus creative nature to someone for the first time, I always ask the same questions: "Why do you care what someone else makes? Why do you care if you have a bigger house or more expensive car than your neighbor? Why do you care how your practice compares with the one down the block?"
People always respond the same way: They look at me totally perplexed as to why I would even ask such a stupid question, and answer, "Well ... because!"
That's because we're all programmed to have a competitive nature. We're raised to judge our own success and worth in relation to others. We can't win unless someone else loses, as if there's not enough to go around. We compete for time, money, energy, and attention. If you can't bring yourself to pay incentives, you're being competitive with your own staff. If you don't donate your time and energy, it's because you can't bear to do something without an obvious payback. And if you don't donate your money, well, you're just being greedy.
Haven't you ever heard the expression, "He who dies with the most toys still dies?" Sure, I have lots of toys, houses, cars, and boats. I don't love having them so I can feel more successful or superior to other people. I love having them because of the pleasure and memorable experiences they allow me to bring to my family, coaching clients, employees, and friends. I am creative in how I use my "toys" for the benefit and enjoyment of others. I also have a personal mission to make a significant investment of my time and money into nonprofits that impact the people and world around me. There's no competitive benefit for doing that. It's just something that I believe is the right thing to do.
You'll go a lot further in life if you focus on being creative instead of competitive. Stop comparing yourself to others, stop taking your cue for what to do based on what your competition is doing, and don't waste time being envious of what others have that you don't.
What can you do
Focus on the creative things you can do that no one else is thinking about. Compare yourself only to what you're doing and your potential (which, by the way, no one is actually living up to, so there's always room to improve).
If you're always copycatting a competitor up the street, you're going to end up always being one step behind and one notch below that competitor. Your success in the long run is all about -- and only about -- how creative you can be in delivering a great patient experience, regardless of what anyone else is doing.
Imagine this: You're having a slow week at the office. The open holes in the schedule are feeling like open holes in your pockets, draining your profits. Your natural competitive nature will have you thinking about how to cut your spending, pull back on marketing, or even cancel or defer key investments. Don't do it! Force your not-so-natural creative nature to take charge! Figure out how to use that time to up your game, motivate your team, encourage and engage them, and solicit their creative ideas on how to make the week successful, or at least make up for it the next week.
One of our clients faced this exact situation last month. While the doctor's gut went to "competitive," his mind autocorrected to a creative solution. The doctor took steps to engage and motivate the team early in the week. Consequently, the team booked more same-day and same-week treatments, ultimately recouping and even surpassing the profits they thought they were going to lose. Most important, though, the increased morale and teamwork of the staff translated into better experiences for the patients, positively impacting the practice well beyond just that week.
You play a lot of different roles -- the leader of your team, a husband or wife, parent, caregiver, friend, and mentor -- and you're faced with making decisions within these various roles every single day. Force yourself to overcome your competitive mindset. Accept that there is ample opportunity and abundance. Be generous with your time, energy, and money. Tap into your inner creativity in a way that enriches you and the people in your life, as well as impacts the world around you. Ultimately, that's all any of us should really care about.
Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.