The Way Forward.

The Way Forward.

On a recent monthly coaching call, an exceptionally bright client and successful orthodontist in California asked me what are the key characteristics of my top students. It’s a smart question. One I imagine Munger or Buffett might ask of a leader in any worthwhile organization.

At the top of my list, resting on four or five other characteristics, was the fact that the most successful members of Burleson Seminars are curious and often stand alone in their desire to grow.

Where friends and colleagues often shun or refute basic marketing, management and employee engagement strategies, my top clients turn over every stone, looking for clues, testing, measuring and adapting. In other words, they behave exactly the opposite as the average doctor and small business owner. And, more importantly, they really don’t care what their peers think or have to say about it.

These doctors are clearly the minority.

Kierkegaard said, “Truth always rests with the minority … because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion.

It’s why my top clients ignore the “gangs” online and in other media. Inside the average Facebook user group, online message board or CE meeting room, you’ll find a bunch of doctors sitting around, looking at what their peers are doing and attempting to do it incrementally better or blindly following the crowd.

My best strategies are deeply rooted in principle, not fad, and they’ve all come from outside our industry. The Disney Institute, MIT Sloan School of Management, my own MBA training, obscure marketing, psychology and behavioral journals and research – this is where I start. Through relentless testing and slow release to my top students, then through my monthly marketing programs and here, only after the strategies and tactics have been tested and proven in several markets, you will find ideas, examples and templates that will only grace the pages of a Facebook user group if they’ve been stolen from or licensed through yours truly.

I admit, I live a charmed life. It wasn’t always that way, but my top students benefit from it greatly. One of the best ways to avoid me-too group think is to set aside time each day in quiet reflection to focus on your goals and objectives.

Where are you headed in the next 3-5 years? Look for the long runway. Someone much smarter than I said we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in 30 days but underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.

Kierkegaard observed, “Incapacity for quiet contemplation cuts us off from our true self and instead causes us to adopt by passive absorption the ideals of others.”

If you feel the tug in your personal life or in your practice to listen to and adopt the ideals of others, might I suggest an alternative. Set aside at least 30 minutes each day to ask yourself what you now know that you didn’t know when you woke up this morning. Write down the 3-5 big things you’re going to accomplish tomorrow. Never start your day with email or by checking your phone.

While others float aimlessly without opinion, you will remain grounded, focused and effective. While others are driven by impulse, you will act with intention. Don’t stop with quiet reflection. Share your goals with your team leaders. Align your organization with your true sense of purpose. Measure relentlessly. Celebrate even the tiniest of wins. This is the way forward.

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