Sports is a great way to build confidence and inspire team building skills for children. I’ve watched (and coached) my kids' baseball and soccer teams over the last two years and found it inspiring how quickly they have developed and improved in the sports. The first game of baseball (at age 6) seemed more like a “pile-on” of kids grabbing for the ball in the outfield. By the end of the season they learned to play their positions. The first time at bat many children were fearful. They were afraid of not hitting the ball, striking out, or even getting hit by a pitch. Fear was washed away by words of encouragement from coaches and fathers, as well as through practice and patience. Had it not been checked – that fear would have stopped any child in their tracks and prevented them from playing. Fear often holds us back from doing things and that feeling often trickles up to adulthood.
In the context of optometrists, my friend calls this behavior "The Imposter Syndrome." A very accomplished and well respected optometrist and professor (who does not suffer from Imposter Syndrome), she believes that when it comes to practice ownership, many doctors are frozen and afraid of becoming owners. They feel unqualified and lack confidence in their ability to manage and run a business. These are highly educated people—they have studied optometry for four years, diagnosed eye diseases almost every day; and make judgment calls that can literally affect a person’s ability to see if a diagnose is missed.
Imposter Syndrome is a feeling of inferiority, of self-doubt in one’s ability. It’s more associated with women but can affect anyone. It’s characterized by a feeling that other people are better, accomplishments are attributed to “being lucky” and a general fear that prevents you from moving ahead.
When running and owning any business, there are several things to keep in mind – all of which apply to anything we want to accomplish. (1) Failure or mistakes should be considered a learning process to help improve the next time. Whether it’s learning how to swing a bat, examining an eye, or managing a practice – the first time there are always missteps. Learn from those and don’t repeat them. (2) Always visualize success in the present tense. If you see yourself and want to own a practice that grosses $600,000 per year, then every day you should write down: "I gross $50,000 per month." By visualizing your goals in the present tense, you will subconsciously do the things needed to make that goal a reality. (3) Seek out advisors, mentors or a support group to help with the things you don’t know to do or to solve problems. Doctors consult each other on diagnoses—the same should be done with business issues.
When we attempt to accomplish tasks where we don’t feel completely confident we often have self-doubt or may even feel useless. If you find yourself falling into this trap, re-frame the mindset and recognize that you are accomplished in many areas and indeed can really hit that ball (maybe even out of the ballpark!).
After all, we've all had our first time at bat. For some of us it was the first time out of optometry school with big student loans, four years of school and the risk of not passing the state licensing exams. For others, it’s the first day of practice ownership.
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