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Wednesday / May 22.
HomemilastwordThe Last Word: No Mate, She Won’t Be Right

The Last Word: No Mate, She Won’t Be Right

“She’ll be right, mate.” Across the world, this is a phrase that immediately identifies the speaker as being from Down Under. It is an expression that defines us as laid back and good-humoured, displaying a casual optimism in the face of adversity. Good qualities to have in a friend, a buddy, in a ‘mate’, you’d agree.

But if we take that same attitude into business ‘she’ll be right’ translates very differently. It speaks not of easy-going mateship, but rather of passive complacency, of stagnancy. It becomes a negative cultural force that stifles progress and limits opportunities for growth.

In an increasing online and global marketplace, we’re facing opposition from competitors with a ‘can-do’ attitude, who strive for perfectionism and excellence. In this environment, ‘she’ll be right’ just won’t wash. None of us starts out with an attitude of ‘near enough is good enough’, particularly in a profession such as eye care. Imagine if your patient had laser surgery ‘roughly near’ the eye or ‘almost’ got the correct prescription lenses, you’d never see them again.

We start our careers keen to make a difference, to be successful, to build a practice. There’s fire in our bellies. It is hard work, but rewarding – so rewarding that we achieve our aim. We now have a well-paying job, a comfortable practice. Life is good. We can just keep doing what we’ve been doing, because, after all, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Right?

Imagine if your patient had laser surgery ‘roughly near’ the eye…

But the problem is that while we’ve shifted into cruise control, businesses around us are still in top gear. We are comfortable, complacent even, but our competitors (in the next street, the next suburb, or the next continent) are still adapting, still learning, still planning, still innovating. Remember the fable about the frog in the kettle? Drop it into boiling water, and the frog will jump right out to avoid being scalded. Sit the frog in cool water and bring it slowly to the boil, and the frog will acclimatise to its surroundings, not realising it is about to die.

Regardless of the truth of the tale, the warning is clear. It is easy to become satisfied with our success and then oh-so-slowly let our guard down, assuming nothing bad can or will happen. If we’re not anticipating danger, we won’t know how to react when it happens. Unaware that circumstances have changed around us, our businesses perish. Complacency is a serious issue. The world around us is changing. We may not like it but it’s our responsibility to adapt. Experts tell us that strategic planning is crucial. Develop a clear vision for your career or your business. If you own a practice make sure your staff share your vision.

Commit to being a lifelong learner – obtain more education, attend conferences and seminars, read, network – constantly expose yourself to new ideas. Develop a culture of accountability. Ask yourself, where is my career or practice at now? Where do I want to be in five years? How will I get there?

By objectively evaluating the answers, you’ll start filling in the blanks and develop a ‘toolbox’ of methods so you can adapt to change and avoid becoming complacent.