Thirty-one years ago, I opened my second office on the 52nd floor of what is now William’s Tower in Houston. At the time, I noticed that occasionally amidst a highly productive and profitable day at my practice, I would find myself feeling elevated, inflated, and self-absorbed. My pride would start soaring and my chest would begin to puff; I would imagine myself to be more important than I actually was.
But shortly after coming home following such a day, I would frequently experience a series of humbling, pride neutralizing circumstances that would soon return me from my unstable pedestal to my rightful place as an equal with my spouse. If I resisted her feedback, I sustained my delusion of grandeur into the later evening and experienced a disturbed sleep and distant relationship. My spouse was doing her job of helping me try to be more loving and authentic, but I was too ornery at times to appreciate it.
Sometimes after a largely sleepless night, I would then return to the office the next morning to discover more humbling challenges to deflate and balance me out. I would then experience a challenging, less productive day filled with the complementary inverse feeling about myself. While I was never diagnosed with mania or depression, I definitely experienced cyclothymic mood swings, reflected in my practice statistics and economics and which often distracted me from my primary aim of providing caring quality service.
Upon declining into a reciprocal emotional low and beating myself up for doing it, my deflating, devaluing, and depressing energy would follow me home at that day’s end and lead me to be more humble, introverted, receptive, and quiet. But, then my spouse could see the day’s challenge on my face and was then there to reliably lift, encourage and support me to correct balance like a tempering thermostat. She was once again doing her often under-appreciated job of returning me to my more authentic center in between my polar opposites. She was assisting me in reaching the golden mean where I could be less focused on how great or discouraged I was, and more focused on what was truly higher in priority — caring for my patients and loving and providing for my family.
After experiencing a few of these frustrating, recurring cycles and watching my daily stats which revealed them, I finally realized that if I didn’t govern myself I would keep requiring governance from the outside. So I decided to create a centering method to assist me in honing in on my authentic self and stabilizing my perceptions, moods and ultimately my practice and home life. I documented the psychological and physiological behaviors that I would demonstrate when I was either up or down and created a questionnaire to assist me in self-monitoring these swings so as to stabilize my practice statistics and life.
What follows is a slightly edited and more generic version of the original daily questionnaire. When I get up and elated in my office, what do I do? My inflated and elated state arose when I had lopsided my perceptions and sensed more positives than negatives, or more gains than losses. It represented a distortion of my awareness. It provided me with an opportunity to self-govern and re-center. So whenever I found myself up and elated, I would simply ask myself the following questions.
- Who did I not fully provide service to today?
- What action step or approach did not work today?
- What patient came in that I respectfully acknowledged today?
- What patients did I not complete my paperwork on today?
- What special needs did my patients require that I overlooked?
- What promises did I not keep with patients or staff today?
- What important facts did I omit or forget about today?
- Who did I forget to call and care about today?
- What important report or form did I miss filling out today?
- Who did I forget to stimulate referrals from today?
- What did I avoid doing in my office today?
- What patient or staff member did I take for granted today?
- Who did I not thank today?
- What skill did I slack off on today?
- What new idea or inspiration did I miss acting upon today?
- Who did I not confront or hold accountable today?
- Who did I not share important educational information with today?
- What skill did I let slide today?
- What higher-priority action step did I forget today?
- What possible person could have felt I cared less for them today?
- What am I not thankful for today?
- What am I emotionally charged about today?
- Where have I not given my full attention today?
- Where have I acted impulsively today?
- Which patient have I ignored today?
- Who did I not share my appreciation with today?
- What new business opportunity did I pass up on today?
- Where did I sway from a wise patient management today?
- Where/when did I not listen to my inner intuitive voice today?
Taking the time to answer these questions was a great way to help balance me out and bring me back to reality. Conversely, whenever I would feel the slip into depression or negativity, I would ask the inverse of these questions. Instead of asking who did I not fully provide service to, I would ask who I did. And soon after focusing on my daily accomplishments and positive actions, I feel myself lifting back up to normal. This exercise was a great way to quickly restore balance.
My advice? Take this general questionnaire and tailor it to your business and tendencies. Then, at the end of each day, run through either a positive or negative version to bring you back up or down. Regardless of your general disposition, after doing this for a while, you should discover your business and personal life becoming more certain, stable, and fruitful. Because life is all about balance. Keep that in mind on your journey to greater success.