Being a big fish in a small pond feels familiar, safe, and maybe even good. But oftentimes, that pond is too small, and you, my friend, are destined for more.
If the thought of getting out of your comfy pond makes you squirm, it’s okay. Most of us learn to hold ourselves back early on in life as a way to protect from the scary unknown. Unfortunately, we often carry this into our adulting lives which can rear its head in places like your relationships, your health, and yes, even your practice. Somewhere along the line, we get confused between playing small and starting small. While they may seem the same at first, they are distinctly different from one another.
For example, you know you need to market your practice, but the whole thing feels overwhelming.
- If you’re playing small, you distract yourself by filling your day with busy work, ignoring the call to learn how to do something new.
- If you’re starting small, you decide to stop worrying about what you don’t know and try out one new idea to begin developing connections in your community.
Not sure if you’re playing small or starting small? Keep reading to find out four ways you may be playing small – plus learn some practical tips on how to stop the cycle and quite holding yourself back.
1. You Hide Your Voice
You’re good at what you do – really good. You’re a stellar practitioner for your patients, and you are continually learning to better serve them.
Yet when you think about going Live, making a guest appearance on a podcast, or setting up a booth at an event in your community, you freeze. You find reasons not to accept or move forward.
Maybe you think you’re not qualified…
Or you’ll say something wrong….
Or your clothes don’t fit right….
Or the thought of posting success stories on your social media feels like bragging…
Regardless of the reason, you just can’t bring yourself to show up.
One secret to overcoming your fears is to get comfortable with hearing yourself talk. Try one of these powerful tips:
- Ask your best friend or a trusted family member to listen while you talk about your services and your area of expertise. And listen to their honest feedback.
- Practice your material in front of the mirror to begin building confidence.
- Change your internal dialogue to something more positive that reinforces your success.
As awkward as it may feel at first, it will get better. I promise.
2. Criticisms or Setbacks Crush You
Ok. We know you love your practice which is why you give your absolute best every day. You’ve been diligently collecting reviews – and most are positive – but one day you find out that someone left a negative one. And your day is ruined.
But let’s put this in context. A challenging patient you treated *once* writes a two-star review, most of which either isn’t true OR could have been resolved with a little communication. You feel like you’ve been virtually smacked in the face. It sends you into a MAJOR funk, and it sours your mood for the entire day – even though you have waaaaaaay more glowing reviews than this one bad one.
Or perhaps you hired someone to help with your marketing, but you’re not getting traction. You take a look at what they created, and you realize why. Instead of talking about how your chiropractic membership program saves patients 20% off adjustments, it says 2%. Even though it was an honest mistake, you bury your head in your hands and are consumed with frustration.
Instead of shutting down when this happens, you may want to consider the lens you’re viewing them through:
- Change the word “criticism” to “feedback” and use it to find ways to improve your patient experience.
- Instead of instantly worrying about what could go wrong, think back to a positive experience and imagine it going well.
- Usually, a negative reaction is less about you and more about the other person – so let it go as quickly as possible. #nuggetsofwisdom
Keep your head up and focus on all the good things that are going on! And remember the reason you’re doing this – to help your patients experience complete healing and relief of symptoms.
3. You Fear Hearing “No”
Let’s say you decide to host a wellness event, and you want to partner up with some other practitioners on LinkedIn. Right before you send them messages, you immediately think it’s a dumb idea or you’re being pushy. Insecurity rushes in and stops you from pressing “send.”
Or you’re an acupuncturist and you’d love to ask your favorite health coach to join your Live video. You’ve been brainstorming exciting new ways to promote your practice, but you hesitate. Who are YOU to ask for their time? Fear creeps in and you talk yourself out of it.
If you hate hearing “no,” practice getting used to it. Turn it into a game with these ideas:
- Expect the no’s to happen. Your offer may not be at the right time or it’s not a good match. Regardless of the situation, keep going until you get the yes!
- Role-play with a trusted colleague to normalize “no.” The more you get used to hearing it, the less scary it’ll be.
- Practice asking and make it fun! Create a game with your college buddies – who can get the most “no’s” before they get a yes! You’re asking skills will be super sharp in no time.
I promise, once you’re comfortable with hearing “no,” you’ll begin see so incredible growth in your practice. Because now, the focus isn’t on you, it’s on how you can serve in the best way possible.
4. Nobody Knows What You Do
You’re rocking it on social media, posting regularly, and engaging. You share stunning photos of your garden, running routine, and the fresh meals you’re whipping up. Your motivation? You want to connect and inspire healthy lifestyle choices.
But there’s one tiny (huge) problem…
You never share anything about your specialty. Not in your bio, not in your feed, not in your stories – nowhere! Maaaaybe you casually drop your profession in a comment or two – and immediately apologize, quickly typing “no pressure,” or “I don’t want you to think I’m trying to sell anything.”
If you’re feeling nervous about promoting yourself, it’s time for another reframe: change the word “sell” to “share” with these simple tips:
- Grab some paper, and set a 15-minute timer. Let loose on ALLLLL the things you love about your practice, your patients, and your mission.
- Whittle that list down into 3-5 sentences. Make sure it’s in present tense and in the first person.
- Read those sentences out loud every day for a month. (this is KEY)
- Once it becomes second nature, you’ll be able to easily share your inspiring “why” when you talk about your practice.
Remember, you have SO MUCH value to give to others, and telling them about it is the first step to truly helping them.
Play Bigger by Taking Baby Steps
Know that it’s perfectly okay to take baby steps in the beginning – as long as you’re making progress. By implementing small, consistent steps, you’ll begin creating some new habits that will make a lasting impact on your patients. If you need more ideas and encouragement on how to stop holding yourself back, be sure to check out How to Stop Playing Small in Your Business.
Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Start getting more out of your life today. Identify one way you’ve been holding yourself back and commit to making new choices. Take one tiny action every day for 30 days, and you’ll amaze yourself. I can’t wait to see what you do!