I recently took a nap in a public park, like a homeless dude, except I was marginally better dressed at the time. I use the term “nap” loosely, simply because I had too much noise in my head, rendering me incapable of a full-on snooze.
One of the topics mashing around between my ears, as is often the case in people who are constantly assessing their level of self-awareness, was the lessons I had learned the hard way in the clinic and, earlier in my career, in the gym (I was a personal trainer before I was a chiropractor). Now, I am not the type to beat myself (emotionally, that is) over pretty well anything, but the list was getting long. The mistakes I have made and finesses which I lacked have been sobering in the best cases and demeaning in others. I figure that sharing this list has the potential to help a few people avoid some of the intellectual pitfalls that dragged me down early in my career.
#1 Any investment by a client in their health is worthy of praise.
Early in most of our careers, we are extremely heavily focused on getting it “right”. The right diagnosis, the right treatment, the right exercise, the right verbiage…the right answer. We have school to thank for that. It takes a looong time, and I mean loooooooooong time to come to the realizations that there very seldom is only one right answer. Usually there is a good answer, often there is a better answer, and every so often there is a singular right answer. And when that answer is “this nail needs a hammer”, and you so happen to be holding the hammer, look out! Miracle case!
However, we often become so focused on getting the right answer that we often neglect one very simple fact: a nation full of poor health outcomes is 20% due to lack of information, and 80% due to lack of action. Let me state that again, because it is so friggin important.
The big problems are 20% lack of information, 80% lack of action.
Do you think we are developing nations where 2/3 of people are overweight because people don’t know that they should eat their veggies? That’s laughable at best, cynical at worst. Most people know the basic actions, and yet cannot find the willpower, motivation, determination, or grit to consistently follow through on what information they have. It’s not about the right answer, it’s about getting people to take action.
Let me cut this coal into a diamond: When you see an action, any action, even one that seems contrary to what the patient desires, it behooves you to praise the client’s display of willingness to do something. The last thing in the world you should do is make the client feel bad about attempting to implement an action of improvement for their own health.
They tried the Grapefruit Diet? Good on ’em. They think an inversion table will fix it all? Fantastic, those puppies aren’t cheap. The client is already 80% of the way there, purely because they have demonstrated the capacity to take action. Keep this in mind: It is easier to change an action than it is to motivate people to take action. It’s much easier to modify a habit than to begin one.
Give praise freely and openly for EVERY SINGLE INVESTMENT that a client makes in their health. Period.
Now, go ye into the world and help the health of a nation.