I was having a conversation with a colleague recently when I told him what I was up to here on the site, and how excited I’ve been getting about teaching about business, productivity and practice management to Chinese medicine practitioners. He was interested, and then asked me to “sell him” on why he (or anybody) should choose to learn from me rather than someone else.
After I attempted to summarize what I see as the benefits of my teaching and coaching, he said, “You’ve managed to talk a lot about acupuncture clinics without saying much about money or income – what’s that all about?” It was a fair critique, and it really got me thinking.
I am not interested in helping you becoming super wealthy as a result of running your acupuncture clinic.
I don’t envision you buying a yacht. I don’t care if you crush your competition. I am uninterested in whether your invented hashtag is trending, or if you’re the most popular acupuncturist on TopDocs or if you’ve been featured in your local monthly glossy advertising magazine. I am not the person that people come to if their primary focus is money, status or fame.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m glad I make a good living practicing Chinese herbal medicine and running Watershed Wellness. I have a beautiful home in the most stunning place on Earth, and I’m able to help friends and family as well as buy pretty things from time to time. I honestly never thought I’d have a job that made me enough money to live on – so I’m astonished as things get better every year. I feel very fortunate to have the things I have, and to be where I am with respect to my finances.
I want those things for you, too.
I want you to have the level of income that you need to lead a happy and fulfilled life. I want you to be able to replace stuff when it breaks. I don’t want you to stress out when you realize acupuncture license renewal is coming up. I want you to be able to help your family, your friends. I want you to be able to move to a place that nourishes you, and have a home that feels truly like home.
But, even in business, a focus on profitability and growth at all costs is unnatural and unsustainable.
It also happens to be a terrible strategy for building businesses like ours. We must be whole, centered and aware to be our best as executives in our acupuncture businesses. This is particularly true if we are owner-practitioners, which I assume is true of most of you. This isn’t because there is dissonance between business and Chinese medicine. It’s because your time and energy are limited, and balance is key.
We’re trying to create an ecosystem, not a factory!
I talk about business systems holistically interrelating because I truly believe that is the best model for a truly successful acupuncture clinic. It’s an ecosystems model, really. By giving each part of your business, and yourself, its due, you build a resilient, strong and resonant business that will feed you in every way possible. Crushing your productivity endlessly so you can charge towards a 6 or 7 figure income at all costs won’t do that. Sorry.
So, sure, I want you to make money. But I’m more interested in your unending flourishing…
Money helps, to a point. We’ll get you to that sweet spot pretty easily. But the hard part is figuring out what else? If the bills are paid and the other things you need for secure functioning are more or less under control, what more do you need to have a fulfilling career? How can your acupuncture clinic enable that? What are the conditions for your flourishing?
I am interested in your transforming the lives of your patients & communities
This work we do is powerful on many levels. Individual patients come to us with pain, distress and various types and stages of disease. While no practitioner is 100% effective in every case, I think most of us would say that the vast majority of our patients leave our clinics feeling better than when they came. That’s quite an accomplishment! And we all have cases – or have ourselves been cases – of much more profound levels of healing and transformation catalyzed by Chinese medicine treatment.
There’s no better reward to our work than seeing this type of change take place. If your business allows you to do a lot more of that – I’d count it as successful. And this is something that you can improve – there are many steps you can take to help ensure that your practice is the best possible container for patient transformation.
In your work with individual patients, you naturally contribute to flourishing communities in small and large ways. And you can more overtly and materially participate in restorative and transformative work with your business. This might be something as simple as offering your space for events or meetings by community groups on the weekends, or donating a portion of sales to a relevant organization. Or you could plan your enterprise such that it is deeply embedded with the work of creating some type of change in the world.
I am interested in the impact you can have on the East Asian medicine professions.
We do not exist as an island, either in time or in space. As East Asian medicine practitioners, we are part of an astonishingly long historical stream of study, practice and elaboration. We are also not alone in the here and now. Acupuncturists are spread across the planet, occupying a dizzying number of niches, our numbers growing every day! What’s your role in all of that?
Who are you in your lineage? What are you to your teachers? Are you teaching yourself? How are you advancing your little corner of the medicine, making all that is new old again? How can your clinic and business success help you make the impact you want to make?
I want to help cultivate a vibrant ecosystem of East Asian medicine organizations and enterprises that can contribute positively to our world.
If that sounds interesting – maybe join me?