I didn’t always love to read. But becoming a practice owner made me a reader, and I’ll never go back.
It can feel isolating, running a business. You spend so much time relying on your own judgment and counsel. Work gets overwhelming, questions about business management pile up unanswered, and your thinking can get pretty static.
You risk missing real opportunities for growth and change, and new directions to benefit your practice and life outside work. (I talked recently about the painfully high cost of these missed opportunities for practice owners.)
There’s a remedy that’s easy and inexpensive, one you can start today. Pick up a book. There’s a whole universe of experience, guidance and insight available to you right now.
Think you’re too busy to read? Set aside 20 minutes a day. There’s no need to make a bigger commitment than that. I promise, you’ll get a huge return on your 20-minute-a-day investment.
Cracking open a great book is the quickest way to shake up your thinking: get some fresh ideas, benefit from other people’s experience and wisdom.
Books don’t replace the need for mentorship, and a community of people with whom you can troubleshoot challenges and celebrate wins. But you can create a tribe of advisers through reading, to help you navigate the road of business ownership and leadership.
My picks for the best practice owner summer reads:
Atomic Habits by James Clear
You hear me talk a lot about systems. Building a systems-based practice is at the very center of the path to practice freedom. Systems are the gateway to building a highly efficient practice that runs without your constant, hands-on involvement. That goal—to make you, the practice owner, operationally irrelevant—only happens when you put systems in place.
James Clear is the person to learn from about systems, and how to apply them to your business and your life. His practical, action-focused approach illustrates vividly how to identify the habits that aren’t serving you, replace them with better ones, and turn small, concrete steps into major changes. I’m a huge James Clear fan—and Atomic Habits might be my favorite of his books yet.
Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis
Too often, most of us operate with a sense of scarcity at the front of our minds—typically without even realizing it. That fear-based thinking colors everything we do, every relationship we have, every choice we make as business owners. It’s the mindset that tells us we don’t have enough, and we won’t ever have enough. Enough what? Money, time, experience, support, courage. You name it, and a scarcity mindset will claim it as insufficient. When we think this way, the most we can often do is play it safe to avoid what our fears tell us are worst-case outcomes.
Peter Diamandis is a world-class innovation expert, entrepreneur and futurist, and Abundance is a powerful antidote to the fearful thinking that so many of us struggle with. As a practice owner, I operated out of a sense of scarcity for years. It didn’t keep me “safe.” It did make everything harder, and it held my business back. As independent business owners in health care, we are in a unique position to shape the future we want for ourselves and our families, our patients and communities. This book is an inspiring call to action for each of us. (If you’re reading this thinking these ideas are way too big for you, then trust me, this book is even more of a must-read for you!)
The Power of Moments Dan Health and Chip Heath
We all hear a lot about patient engagement, patient relationship management. When we get right down to it, what’s it all about? Connection. In The Power of Moments, this brother-brother pair of business scholars reveal how it is we truly make an impact on other people: through memorable moments of experience that provide insight, create change, and allow us to connect.
This is a fun read because of the way the authors use individual stories to bring to life their big ideas and the research that supports them. It’s also a must read for any practice owner who wants to learn how to engage with patients (and everyone else in their lives) in the most authentic and compelling ways. That should be everyone!
Deep Work by Cal Newport
Do you ever look back at a day gone by and wonder just how much you actually got done? You were busy, but how much did you actually accomplish? Have I got a book for you. Cal Newport is a master of time management, in the best ways possible. In this book, through observations from his own life and evidence-based research, he outlines the power of concentration and focus—and how we’re all at risk of losing these essential skills, to the distractions of digital media and to the empty shell of busy-ness. Taking back your time as your own to control, and being more deeply productive with the time you do spend working? That’s a win-win for every practice owner.
The Practice Freedom Method: The Practice Owner’s Guide to Work Less, Earn More, and Live Your Passion (Read it for FREE)
In my book I tell the story of how I transformed my practice from one that was struggling (yes, it actually burned down in flames), to a multi-location, million-plus-dollar enterprise that ran without my day-to-day involvement. I made myself operationally irrelevant, and free to focus on the work that meant most to me. Along the way, I also made just about every mistake practice owners can make. You’ll hear about it all, including the systems, habits, tools, and outlook that led to success on my terms: becoming exceptionally profitable, connecting with my passion, and finally achieving freedom of time.