It was on an annual trip to my ophthalmologist that steered me to a stunning epiphany.
Let me start by admitting I like to ride motorcycles. To put that into context with the rest of this part of the story, when a milk crate (or whatever) flies off the back of a pickup truck 150 yards ahead of me at dusk, I need to be able to see it, and where it lands in the lane of traffic, so I can avoid hitting it. If you’re on four-wheels, such an event can be nerve rattling. If you’re on two wheels, it can be potentially life changing, and I do not mean that in a good way.
Now that I have explained my need for the annual trip to the ophthalmologist, let me tell you a little about my specialist. For starters, she still has Saturday office hours, which is both very nice and “old school.” She is a superb doctor with a front office staff that, on its best day, is lacking. Because she is such an excellent physician, my wife and I have agreed to overlook the shortcomings of her staff.
What has always impressed me about my doctor is her dedication to learning, the way she is always improving and challenging herself. Recently she completed a Masters in Public Health because she found it “interesting.” She comes from a family that puts such a high premium on education, that her 84-year-old mother just received her Ph. D this past summer. Wow!
I work with attorneys, a similar group of professional services practitioners, much like MD’s and CPA’s. As a group, they require extensive schooling, licensing, and rigorous testing just to be able to hang their shingle and do business. Then there is the continuing education requirement as well.
Anyway, I guess it was right about this point I had my epiphany: we train these people and hold them to the very highest standards in business (yes, I said business) and yet we give them absolutely no training in the key areas of business development and how to run a business
At that exact moment, I realized that my ophthalmologist was no different than any other sole practitioner. She was dealing with the very same handicaps due to a lack of formal training in the aspects of running a successful business.
When I asked her what it was like when she started out in practice, she opened up to me. “It was one thing to be the doctor in the back office, but it was an eye opener when I went up to the front office. I had bills, I owed people money. People owed me money and weren’t paying. It was terrible. It was something we never covered or talked about in all my years at school.”
It’s an odd dichotomy that professions requiring the most education inadequately fail to prepare these professionals adequately to succeed. You can be the smartest/best (insert here: attorney, CPA, MD) and still have no guarantee of success in your chosen field.
Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what we are not teaching in these programs. Especially considering the cost of higher education in the new millennium.