The Yin and Yang of Practice Building
Practitioners of Asian medicine are familiar with the concept of Yin and Yang—the fundamental concept on which the medicine is based. Yang and Yin are the two poles of life—heaven and earth, light and darkness, invisible and visible. The blending of these forces gives rise to all that is manifest (Qi). Yin and Yang are differentiations of the One, and the parents of all creation. The principle of Yin and Yang is at work in all of life, from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy. Let us explore how it applies to building and sustaining a successful healthcare practice.
The Yang aspect of practice management can be described as dynamic energy. It is the active, “go out there and make it happen” energy which fuels the passion and enthusiasm necessary for any successful venture. Nearly all practice management and success seminars focus almost entirely on this area. Steven Covey, in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, refers to this as the realm of technique—specific sales, marketing and “relationship building” methods for business success. Countless books have been written on this subject. A few of them are excellent; they detail the nuts of bolts of how to “put yourself out there” in an intelligent and effective way. Related to a healthcare practice, these are excellent expressions of the Yang aspect of practice management. They include public speaking, writing articles, promotional literature, print advertising, direct mail, health fairs and expos, and networking. These external methods and techniques are useful parts of a successful approach to growing a strong practice.
The Yin aspect of practice management can be thought of as magnetic energy. As Steven Covey points out in Seven Habits, technique without authentic presence is shallow and superficial, and leads to a flash-in-the-pan business. Three of his seven habits (think win-win, seek first to understand, synergize) are technique-based, and three are “character habits” (be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first) that cultivate integrity and personal power. Since Yin is magnetic, receptive energy, it would be useful to look at how magnets work.
A magnet does not reach out and grab metallic objects to itself. It draws to itself that which is responsive to its particular creative field. There is a perfect and specific design to that what is attracted to a magnet. A mass of iron filings—the most malleable and responsive of all substances drawn to a magnet—arrange themselves in a beautiful geometric pattern. This occurs without any conscious effort on the part of the magnet. The magnet does not advertise, “Iron filings wanted,” or say to the filings, “You move over there. You move over here.” It does not network with groups of different metals in order to cultivate relationships with iron. It simply is itself, naturally expressing its true nature. Then, without effort or struggle, all that resonates with the magnet—all that rightly belongs in close proximity to it—is drawn to it.
So it is in life, and in a healthcare practice. As a practitioner grows, matures, and becomes more in touch with and expressive of his or her true nature, all the patients that could receive help from them are naturally drawn close. And those who are for the moment unresponsive—unable to receive that which the practitioner offers—are naturally repelled, like two magnets of the same polarity. Even more, it is Life, not the practitioner or their marketing consultant, that beautifully orchestrates this, according to Life’s perfect design.
The practical “how” of cultivating magnetic Yin energy relates to daily spiritual practice. It is essential for a healthcare practitioner to have a daily spiritual practice. It is not for the author or anyone else to say what that should look like, but it is for each individual to seek and find what works for them. It can be part of a religious context, or outside of a religious context. The important thing is to find a spiritual path or practice which most deeply resonates with the highest truth you know. Elements of spiritual practice common to most traditions include meditation, prayer, journaling, inspirational reading, and joining with like-minded people regularly. For practitioners interested in working with people at a level deeper than taking symptoms away with a technique, this is fundamental. A practitioner can only reach someone to the depth they have gone in themselves. If you want to do deep work, be deep. The deepening process is what is referred to here as daily spiritual practice.
People come to you not because of what you do, but because of who you are. This is a generalization, because some people will call and come in after seeing your ad, flyer or business card. But what will inspire them to come more than once or twice is your presence, and the connection they feel with you, which is the basis of the therapeutic relationship. Become someone people want to be in the presence of. It is not something which can be manufactured or put on. It is being true to the highest truth you know in each moment. As you continue to refine your expression—your thoughts, words and actions—to more accurately reveal the truth of who you are at your core—your true nature–then your work will deepen, your practice will thrive, and your life will know greater peace and fulfillment.
Business is not about business, in the usual sense of money and profit. It’s about people. Success in business entirely depends on cultivating healthy, positive, loving long-term relationships with people. Building and sustaining a successful practice combines the Yang, dynamic energy of outer action, with the Yin, or magnetic energy of inner development.