Children live in a land of make-believe, a world filled with crayons, markers, and imagination.
Life is whatever they dream up and describe it as. Markers could draw a world sometimes only you could see and no one taught you it wasn’t real until you got closer to your teens. As an adult, you now see things differently.
Your markers are no longer used for illustrating your imagination, but rather they are signposts telling you where you should be. Back then, markers were just colored pens. Now, they convey a different meaning and are the milestones of success. The key point is that where you put your markers is how you determine your happiness.
If you find yourself measuring where you are in life, chances are you’ve located your markers. Success may be reached when there’s X dollars in the bank or when you’ve completed your degree. Success will be yours when all debts are paid off, when you have three practices instead of one, or when the kids are all grown.
Or perhaps it’s more about when you live in this neighborhood and get that kind of car. These markers tend to measure how happy you are. Are you there yet? If not, happiness must wait.
For the sake of your office culture, morale of the team you lead, and perhaps even your family, a healthy look at where your key markers are may result in positive changes that employees, patients, (and you) feel when walking in the door.
The marker of progress
When one values this marker, status is not enough, and good-enough doesn’t exist. It matters not the number of patients or beauty of office location. It’s all about what’s next. If the future is where you’re focused, your patients will often pick up on that by the way you talk to them.
Beyond being present and grateful for what you already have, this choice of marker helps determine if you’re good enough. This is then shared through your language, confidence, leadership, and especially the way you accept compliments.
If the patient awaiting the news from the X-ray you’ve taken then gets an earful about the state of your current X-ray machine, he or she might begin to question your credibility.
And it might not be good enough after you’ve redone your whole office and brought your equipment up to speed. Ambition and progress build businesses, but being reasonable about the speed of progress breeds reasonable, reachable expectations as well as confidence. Consider this before giving your team and patients the impression that where you work isn’t yet up to speed, and that you’re looking at them thinking the same thing.
The marker of status
Similar to the marker of progress, but focused more on the accumulation of shiny things, the marker of status can rapidly ruin an office and team. If buying brand-new, first-to-the-market, name-brand, and pricey things are how you measure your success, chances are good there is distance between you and team members. Not to mention a risk of outspending the revenue coming into your practice.
Strange as it may seem, the desire to appear of highest status will set you apart from those you lead, unless you’re all into the accumulation of similar things. Your flashy purchases may breed resentment or jealousy.
It may also widen the chasm between “you” and “them” and cripple your ability to see what your people need because your eyes are focused on buying more things.
The marker of profit
Tied to ambition and overlapping the marker of status, the ardent pursuit of profit can create different problems. If the only metric of whether you’ve made it starts with a dollar sign and includes a specific number of commas, you may miss many other factors that could be considered success.
In addition to missing things, profit- based markers that are unrealistic can result in not giving your team adequate equipment. Spending less, after all, does result in showing more profit, but it can also prevent you from providing competitive salaries.
Focusing solely on monetary success will also at times cloud your ability to see people’s needs. Perhaps spending on a team event is just what will create much-needed synergy. Arguing over the cost of the office toilet paper because you’re over-zealous about expenditures is likely to be a morale- hurting endeavor.
Markers represent where you think you need to be before you can be happy. Much has been written of late about the choice you make to be happy and yet still these markers persist.
If you can stand still and be happy, those you lead will follow your example. Think of this analogy: As a child, you imagined and assumed what you drew was your reality. As adults, we measure reality based on what we see, forsaking what we imagine, believing it to be impossible.
It’s always tempting to forget to just be happy, and focus instead on where you should be instead of appreciating how far you’ve come.
With children, misplace one marker and some won’t even notice. Misplace their favorite color and it can be a disaster. How emotionally attached are you to the markers you choose? The people around you may, of course, weigh in, giving you guidance on which markers of success to choose, and occasionally providing pressure if you let them.
But the only one who gets to decide what markers determine successful living is you.
Is the fact that you have a practice good enough? Does the fact that you are valued by patients make you happy? Does where you live not matter and is your happiness based on the closeness of your family?
Maybe we actually knew more as children and could draw clearer pictures of what we really desired, instead of all the things we now believe are required before that can happen.
We still have imagination and as adults we have access to even better markers and crayons. The real question is: Do you have the will to pursue happiness? Enjoy drawing your own conclusion.
Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development coach, consultant, and professional speaker. as CEO of training firm, Contagious Companies, Inc., she and her team work with chiropractic practices, healthcare, retail, hospitality and government industry leaders to develop their leadership skills. She can be contacted at 866-382-0121, or through contagiouscompanies.com.