ECPs share their best and worst habits to inspire you to get on the right track in 2017
STORY BY INVISION Staff
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Epictetus
Ah, good old Epictetus. The crustiest of all the Stoic philosophers. Always ready with a quote that makes you think you could rule the planet ... if only you could muster up the tiniest smidgen of discipline.
Here’s another from William James, brother of Henry James.
“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits — practical, emotional and intellectual — systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”
INVISION, like Epictetus and William James, believes strongly in the power of habit. The right habits will change your life. Let’s rephrase ... the right actions, however small, repeated every time, and accumulated over a period of months and years, will change your life.
If you had asked for every referral, if you had always limited yourself to one bite of cake, if you did always try for an add-on sale (or three), if you had gone out for that run every morning, if you did always carry business cards and remembered to hand them out — if you had done all of these things, do you have any doubt that your life and business would be very different?
Two of our favorite books on the subject of building better habits are The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Willpower: Rediscovering The Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney.
We asked eyecare providers about their habits — those they feel have most contributed to their success as well as those they feel might have held them back.
Maybe some of what you read will inspire you to make changes of your own in the New Year.
If so, here are a few things to remember when building new good habits or killing old bad ones.
LITTLE ACTIONS, REPEATED OVER TIME, BECOME IMMENSE
1. Take the case of English novelist Anthony Trollope (1815-1882). He forced himself to produce one page of 250 words every 15 minutes. And he wrote 2-1/2 hours per day. If social obligations forced him to miss a day, he made up the words he had missed writing the next day. He kept careful track of his production in his notebooks, which he managed very seriously. The result? One of the world’s most famously prolific literary careers.
TO GET IT DONE, GET IT SCHEDULED
2. If you’re going to read the complete sales oeuvre of Jeffrey Gitomer, write designer profiles for every collection in your inventory, or exercise your way to fitness, you need to firmly schedule these activities. Don’t just tell yourself, “Oh, I’ll find time during the day somewhere.” Because you won’t. This is especially true in the early days of building a new habit.
MAKE IT CLEAR WHEN YOU’RE FOLLOWING YOUR PLAN
3. Shoot to create what the authors of Willpower call “bright lines” when defining a habit. That means that it is always perfectly clear when you are adhering to your targeted habit and when you are not. “I will ask every new customer I see for an email address” has very bright lines. But bright lines aren’t always possible. For instance, if you’d like to be more social, saying that you will “meet more people” is vague and unspecific. In such a case, it might be better to create an “implementation resolution” — a statement in “if-then” format, such as “If I’m standing in line at a supermarket or store, I will always talk to the person behind me or in front of me.”
DON'T TRY TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE
4. Too many people begin a new year with a dozen or more daily to-dos and do-no-mores. It’s an impossible task, because every time you fail to adhere to one of your new rules, it makes it more likely that you’ll fail to adhere to the rest of them. Says Duhigg: “Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” Instead, commit yourself to changing one behavior per month. Ensure that you stick to that one habit, building it into your routine and making it as automatic as possible, before moving onto the next.
ANALYZE — THEN TRY TO RE-PROGRAM — BAD HABITS
5. Let’s say you have the waistline-obliterating habit of attacking the plate of baked goods in your practice at the same time every afternoon. To change the habit, ask yourself why you’re eating. Are you honestly trying to satisfy your hunger? Or is the knoshing more of a way to break up a boring routine? If you get hungry at that time every day, keep something handy you can eat without guilt to satisfy you when hunger hits. If you’re really just bored at that time, schedule a 15-minute walk outside the office then.
6. Another quote, this one from author Karen Lamb: “A year from now, you may wish you had started today.” Have a life- and business- changing year!
EyeOptics, Omaha, NE
GOOD: Giving constant praise. Constant training. Constantly leading by example.
BAD: Taking on other projects that keep me off the floor.
Zachary Dirks, OD
St. Peter Eyecare Center and Belle Plaine Eyecare Center, Saint Peter, MN
GOOD: Serving patients as individuals and building relationships with them.
BAD: Allowing staff turnover to distract me from taking “next steps.”
Cynthiana Vision Center, Cynthiana, KY
GOOD: Definitely, that I am cross-trained everywhere.
BAD: I am terrible about getting to work on time. I am always one or two minutes late.
Prentice Lab, Glenview, IL
GOOD: My ability to identify my “why” which is shaping my plan forward.
BAD: Looking for faults and waiting for the bottom to fall out.
Salle Opticians, Atlanta, GA
GOOD: I always set goals.
BAD: Staff management is an exhausting task sometimes and I may let a few things slide that I shouldn’t.
Hermann & Henry Eyecare, Pickerington, OH
GOOD: I remember our patients’ names, their families, etc. and they really like that.
BAD: I try to do it all and don’t delegate when I can to a staff that is perfectly capable of doing it just as well as I would have.
Ophthalmology Associates, Cudahy, WI
GOOD: Our patients always come first; we offer good customer service.
BAD: Trying to stay organized and on top of things.
Eye Care & Vision Associates, Buffalo, NY
GOOD: My work ethic and fairness.
BAD: Not setting a higher priority on marketing the practice.
eyeQ Opticians, Millburn, NJ
GOOD: I start everyday with an achievable goal.
BAD: I give in to distractions.
Thomas Vision Clinic, Leesville, LA
GOOD: We really strive to keep staff morale up.
BAD: We are shy to approach our patients/customers about multiple pairs because we assume no one is financially able to purchase more than one pair.
Mill Creek Optical, Dansville, NY
GOOD: Taking the time to listen to my patients. Also being involved in community service groups and being present in the community for good things.
BAD: Saying things are no charge when I should charge.
Square Deal Optical Supply, Johnson City, NY
GOOD: Sharing my product knowledge.
BAD: Our old fashioned office practices.
Shimul Shah, OD
Marysville Family Vision, Marysville, OH
GOOD: Making daily lists of things that must be done.
Coffman Vision Clinic, Bend, OR
GOOD: Changing the look of our optical.
BAD: Talking about money before product.
Mountain View Optical, Fairbanks, AK
GOOD: Being more flexible with patient complaints.
BAD: Not focusing enough on marketing.
Eye Care, Hawaii Hilo, HI
GOOD: We know our products and we relate them to the patient’s lifestyle so they better understand why they should get the no glare or no line.
BAD: We need a little work on our optical hand-offs and doctor recommendations.
EyeGuys Optical, Spokane, WA
GOOD: The ability to wear many hats and adapt to whatever is thrown at me.
BAD: Not giving enough positive feedback to my staff.
America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Burlington, NJ
GOOD: I hired a superb staff who are goal driven.
BAD: Not being able to do as much one-on-one training as I’d like.
Midwest Eye, Downers Grove, IL
GOOD: Coming up with fun, new ideas, and including staff on creativity and decisions.
BAD: Not completing some of the activities we introduce.
Jeffrey Safarik, OD
Newport Mesa Optometry, Costa Mesa, CA
GOOD: Maintaining a consistent quality of care.
BAD: Not training staff.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of INVISION.