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I was tightly strapped into a hot, noisy open cockpit car going 140 mph down the long front straight of a raceway located near the desert town of Willow Springs, Calif.
Bouncing around a few inches to my right was my competitor, who was matching my speed. I tried to watch him, even as my helmet bounced around from the wind.
Turn one was a hard left, with a slight banking. It had to be taken a lot slower than we were going. If I beat the other driver into that turn, it would put me in a good position for the next four turns. That thought crossed my mind, as well as my strong belief that second place is just the first loser. In a split second, I decided to go for it, but I did so in a calculated fashion.
This concept is not only applicable to driving a racecar, but to the business of running your chiropractic practice. A lot of your success will involve a willingness to take calculated risks.
Hey! Wait a minute… Hang onto your seat belts! Does risk-taking make you uncomfortable? Let us explore that mind set.
The reason most people are unwilling to take calculated risks is that they are reluctant to push the comfort limits of their perceived operating envelope.
Actually, your comfort zone is limited only by your perceptions, and your perceptions can limit your world. If you’re willing to push at the walls of your comfort zone and go deeper into a turn, i.e., open your own practice, change your operating protocols, or present your chiropractic beliefs to an audience, you’ll expand your world and more easily accomplish your goals.
Yes, the idea here is to take a risk, but make it a calculated risk. When your data show a good chance of success, you will have that success. I am not recommending foolish risk-taking. Courage is a handy commodity; however, it must partner up with forethought and analysis. Otherwise, your courageous move becomes denial of the risk.
As the modified saying goes, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the weaponry to make the difference.” Your “weapons” are forethought and analysis.
Denying risk reminds me of the person who jumped off a 10-story building. As he whizzed past the sixth floor, someone looked out the window and hollered, “How’s it going?” The falling person yelled back, “So far, so good!” That is denial.
When you stretch your perceived boundaries and are willing to take a calculated risk, you will always be ahead of the person who is afraid to make that risk decision. You must also not let failure hinder your decision-making.
You must be unafraid of failure in order to take full advantage of your courage. Winners are wary, but not afraid to lose. After all, who wants to fail? (I know I don’t!) However, the majority of people who fail do so because they are afraid of the imagined consequences of their failure.
It doesn’t take too many pieces of cheese sliding off your cracker before you realize that error by omission is worse than an error by commission. You have to be willing to try something without letting the fear of failure, peer embarrassment, or anything else along those lines, stop you.
Success does not have to be dramatic; it can be celebrated in inches. When you decide to act, if your decisions result in success by just a few percentage points, you will make progress.
“OK,” you may ask, “but how do I minimize the chances of failing when I make that risky decision?”
Glad you asked! What follows is a simple system to guide you in determining if you are taking a calculated risk or experiencing brain-fade.
You can use the acronym “DARE” to illustrate the four steps to help you minimize failure when assessing a risky move:
- DETERMINE the extent of your risk.
– How far do you want to extend your personal and financial resources to make your decision work? Are the time and money worth the gain?
– Be aware of your chances for either success or failure. When I was racing into that first turn, I knew the spot on the track where I absolutely had to back off, or I would absolutely spin out. Know how far you can go before your chances of success drastically diminish.
– When you are making your decision pro and con list, put down everything you can think of to help you determine your chances for success or failure. Try to leave out as much emotion as possible. Facts work much better than fantasy.
- ASSESS the cost for challenging this particular risk.
– Find out if you can afford to lose whatever you are going to gamble. Is second place better than not finishing the race?
– How much of your life do you want to tie up to make this decision work? By committing to this decision, will it take time away from other, more productive activities?
– How much money can you afford to lose without hindering the progress or growth of your practice? As the risks go up, so do the chances for failure. Set aside money for risky projects. Minimize the financial impact of a possible failure by being able to afford to lose. For example, I’ve tried gambling on several types of advertising venues. Most were expensive, and some failed. I didn’t want to risk the financial future of my practice on my risk-taking, so I expected the best and planned for the worst. I didn’t try the risk until I was able to afford the loss. Most of the advertising ventures worked. Those that were ineffective resulted in minimal financial impact and didn’t slow down my practice growth.
- •REVIEW your strategies before taking any risk.
– Know what you are going to do before you challenge a situation. This is where creating a business and marketing plan come into play. In creating them, you’ll ask yourself important questions. The answers to those questions will form the strategies and goals you’ll use to guide your venture.
- ELIMINATE negative advice from your planning.
– Do your own research and leave the negative driving to some one else. Chiropractic was my third career. When I decided to return to college and study chiropractic, well-meaning relatives told me I was crazy for giving up my existing, solid career for a future question mark. However, before I decided to pursue a new career, I researched the chiropractic market, talked to different chiropractors, and knew the possibilities for success were excellent. My advisors meant well, but they were assessing my situation through their eyes. Their evaluation of my chances to have a healthy and rewarding chiropractic practice was incorrect. I knew that because I had already gone through the above steps. I was aware of the risks and it was well worth it.
It’s now time to translate these steps into an analysis of your next risky challenge. Drive through the steps – today. Don’t stand there while the world zips by your practice. Take action to move forward.
If the numbers and facts look good to you, and if you think your chances for success are good, put the pedal to the metal and make it happen!