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    Does your practice have a culture of can’t?

    The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

    I hear a lot of talk about having a culture of service in the office. I know of some offices that are truly remarkable in their service culture. These offices have patterned themselves after Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, or other noted service culture mainstays.

    But when I think about the doctors who own these practices, I realize that more than a “culture of service,” they have a “culture of can.” You see the “can” comes before the “service,” and it is more important.  

    More from Dr. Spear: 7 things ODs can learn from the Super Bowl

    The most devastating word in the English language is “can’t.” I am always amazed at the ease and frequency that people automatically default to the word “can’t.” It is a reactionary word with a protective mechanism to keep us from actually thinking. It is also a deflecting or blame-shifting word—it is usually followed by the word “because.” It is where we let myth become a mindset.

    I can’t, I can’t, I can’t

    Often, attendees will come up to me after a lecture to talk and share their stories. I love these conversations because I learn a lot, get to know more of my colleagues, and in all reality, it strokes my ego. Unfortunately, the word “can’t” is used way too often in these conversations.

    “I can’t do a dry eye center because my patients don’t come back.”

    “I can’t sell those frames because of the insurances.” 

    “I can’t sell an annual supply of contact lenses because they cost too much.”

    I sometimes fall into this trap myself. For example, all week, I was thinking, “I can’t get my blog done for Optometry Times because I am out of town and too busy.”

    More blogs: Why it’s OK to be bossy

    You see, it is easy to come up with the reasons or excuses we cannot do something. It is much harder to come up with the reasons we can do something. Our practices and our lives often get silently stolen from us by the “can’t culture.” Think about the ideas you have had, and immediately your staff says, “We can’t do that.” Then they proceed to list all the reasons why.  

    What about our kids? Do they ever say, “I can’t”? How do we react? What do we tell them?  We need to take our advice to our kids to heart! We can do anything, and we can grow up to be whatever we want, no matter our age. 

    Next: Can people

    Carl H. Spear, OD, MBA, FAAO
    Dr. Spear owns a multi-location group practice with his wife Dr. Katie Gilbert Spear in Pensacola, FL. Dr. Spear is commander of the ...


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