Structured Procrastination.

Structured Procrastination.

In his excellent book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King addresses the phenomenon of writer’s block. He says, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

I agree. I’ve written thousands of pages of content, spread across ten published books, scores of special reports, articles and hundreds of marketing, management and leadership programs for dentists and orthodontists, several of which have been translated into at least five languages, that I know of.

And, I can attest that a lot of it has typographical and grammatical errors. Some of it is no longer relevant or sorely in need of updating and a good chunk of it falls on deaf ears. But, I write it not only because of the countless hand-written letters, phone calls and personal remarks of gratitude I receive for helping change the lives of thousands of people for the better but also because I have a message that wants to be heard.

While I have the raw talent and capability that exists in one tenth of one of the cells in Stephen King’s pinky finger, I do understand the urgency and necessity with which he writes.

Like King, I don’t sit around and wait for inspiration. I get out of bed each morning and go to work. 

Seven days a week, I write. On Christmas morning, I write. On my birthday, I write. When my father had a stroke, I wrote on the way to the FBO and in the plane on the way to the ICU. 

95% of what I write never sees the light of day, but when you do something every single day, sooner or later the 5% that remains actually adds up to something significant. 

The same is true in your business.

When you wake up every morning thinking about marketing, management, leadership and growth, even if 95% of your ideas never see the light of day, the 5% that remains can make you rich.

This is one of many reasons why I’m so impressed and excited by our members who take good ideas and implement them faithfully. It’s also one of the very predictable reasons why the average small business owner, the average dentist, the average orthodontist never achieves his or her full potential. They sit and wait for inspiration. They diddle and daddle because they fear failing at something new. They won’t get up and go to work on the things that really build a business.

Think about how many of your peers have gone to hundreds or thousands of hours of continuing education on how to cut a better crown preparation, bond a better bracket, win a trial case in the court of law or serve financial clients with excellence.

Now, consider how many of these individuals can recite their lifetime customer value, acquisition cost, revenue per employee and return on invested marketing capital. 

If you walk the halls of your favorite trade show, you’ll see scores and scores of companies selling products, services, tools and widgets of all shapes, sizes and function:

Software and subscriptions that generate online leads. Tools and technology that help you follow-up with and convert those leads. Online and in-house services that can email, text and direct-mail your customers, solicit reviews, organize your schedule, generate and print 3D models and put it all in the cloud.

There are apps and journals, gurus and life coaches who promise they will get you organized and productive. 

Know all of this for what it is: structured procrastination.

On a recent monthly coaching call for Look Over My Shoulder Members, two very smart and successful doctors had questions not about theoretical what-ifs or feel-good comparative analysis, but instead about practical “get up and go to work” tactics to help everyone around them thrive.

One asked about revenue per chair per year, as it relates to capacity and clinic hours and the other asked about next steps to boost new patient conversion and treatment acceptance during times of economic uncertainty.

Neither had any interest in sitting around and waiting for inspiration. 

Like you, they understand there are no points for intention, only action. Both have already rolled up their sleeves and simply wanted reassurance on their way back to work. 

In pursuit of your own practice and life goals, it pays well to ask whether the tools, techniques and people surrounding you are distracting you and fostering procrastination or whether they hold your feet to the fire and beckon you to get back to work.

I know without exception on which side of the divide my campfire has been set. It’s where all the money is.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.