The Confidence Gap

Sometimes, confidence matters as much, or even more, than competence. Learn how to boost your confidence when it’s needed.

By Lynn Grodzki, LCSW, MCC / copyright Sept 2017

I have been fascinated by a number of studies about the role of confidence and how it affects those in business and leadership. They confirm what I have observed as a business coach over many years. Whether or not you have sufficient confidence can directly impact your level of private practice success, including your bottom line.

The Importance of Confidence

Recent studies suggest that for those in business, confidence acts like a source of fuel, allowing people to go further and faster.

Those with more confidence are able to persist in their goals longer with a higher chance of completion. They find and get more resources. They accrue better information. Because they sound confident, they are listened to and talked to with more respect.

In terms of public perception, those with more confidence rate as more talented when compared to those who are equally trained and talented, but more modest. Higher confidence even equates with more money earned and other financial benefits.

How Confidence Affects Private Practice  

As a business coach, I have seen that confidence affects 3 key areas of private practice;

  • The perception of you and your business by others (think potential clients, referrals sources, colleagues)
  • The energy and drive you have for your projects (accomplishing your goals)
  • The felt sense you carry that can encourage or block your daily tasks (your feelings and emotions about your work)

In light of the studies and my observations, I wondered: How does confidence develop, especially in those who are new to the profession? What is the best timetable between competence and confidence?

Confidence versus Competence

Just to clarify terms:

  • Competence speaks to your ability: this would include your training, methods, certification, results, experience and expertise.
  • Confidence reflects your attitude: this would include your level of belief about yourself, self-assurance, and how you express this to others.

As clinicians and practitioners, we are usually taught that competence comes first and that with time, our level of self-confidence will naturally develop.

But now, based on these studies and my observation, I think we need to build confidence along with, not after, competence. I see it as a skill, as important as any other to develop when building your ideal private practice.

I recommend that you develop both confidence and competence, as early as possible.

Let me show you how to develop more confidence.

Do You Have Sufficient Confidence?

As a business coach, I can often spot what seems to be a confidence gap. For example, do you:

  • Have difficulty talking about your work in a way that generates new business?
  • Worry that if you express your competence, you will be seen as bragging?
  • Set goals that are too small or give up too soon?
  • Default to getting more and more training when you have doubts that you are not good enough?
  • Hope that others will see your value, rather than having to say it yourself?
  • Struggle with the “imposter syndrome”?

If you feel that your level of confidence could use a boost, let me show you some basic steps to close the gap. These simple steps can confer some positive effects for your business in a lasting way.

First, it helps to understand what can block the development of confidence.

Common Blocks to Confidence

 If you experience a confidence gap, here are some common reasons why, according to research I have read:


Hormones further behaviors, some of which seem to help to project confidence. Men, in general, appear more confident than women, according to studies, perhaps because testosterone fuels risk taking and tolerance of conflict. In areas of leadership and business, the ability to invest in a project, experiment, or stand up for an idea connotes assurance and belief in oneself.


Introverts appear less confident than extroverts, especially in a public setting. Many of us who are primarily introverts are empathetic, quiet, and reflective; this makes for a good therapist, but may not translate to looking like we have confidence in business. Extroverts are more expressive and tend to talk and emote more, which is perceived as appearing more confident.


Learning to be overly accommodating as a child, or the need to be seen as “good” or even perfect by parents or others can hinder a sense of ease and experimentation that leads to confidence. Perfectionism is especially difficult to overcome, sowing seeds of self-doubt and making it difficult to assert oneself or act positively. Those who are easy going or appear less anxious seem more secure and trustworthy by the public.


Some in our profession suffer from “imposter’s syndrome.” Its hard to master the craft of psychology and psychotherapy and claim expertise, especially in a public arena or online. Others fear disapproval by their colleagues. They resist speaking up or looking confident due to the “tall poppies” pattern: the tallest flowers tend to get cut down first. They don’t want to appear boastful or egotistical for fear they will be “cut down” or discounted by peers, supervisors or mentors.

How to Build Confidence in Business

The good news is that higher levels of confidence can be taught, learned and applied, like any other skill. I have been helping those in private practice to build confidence, in order to meet their business goals, for many years.

I recommend using any or all of the following six possible strategies for boosting your confidence in business:

  1. Persist: The amount of effort that is needed to build, sustain, and maintain a business is probably more than you consider. Your level of persistence in service of your private practice goals is key to developing confidence. Confident business owners are persistent. They follow through, over and over again. Don’t give up too soon.
  2. Risk: Learn to tolerate some risk. Stretch. To expand your level of confidence, experiment. Go a bit beyond your limits. Remember, small steps count. What can you do, try, or test that might be new behavior? Who can you call, contact or reach out to meet? What event can you attend?
  3. Voice: In my book, Building Your Ideal Private Practice, 2nd Edition, see chapter 8: “The Brand Called You” for ideas to help define your basic message, a way to talk about yourself and your work based on your values, passion, and areas of interest. Can you bring your work into your conversations? Find your voice and assert who you are and what you do in a way that feels true to your nature.
  4. Refute: When you have doubts or anxiety about work, develop more confidence with the technique of refutation, explained in Martin Seligman’s book, Learned Optimism. Use self talk to answer back to any doubts or pessimistic thoughts, especially those that may pull you off course. Use objective statements to counter overly negative thoughts and build self-assurance.
  5. Act as if: A certain degree of projecting confidence is akin to performance. You may need to “act as if” you are confident before you really feel it. As many of us know, this one strategy is a quick fix. Act as if you feel calm, have a voice, can take a calculated risk, and have energy to persist with your desired goal. Acting as if you are confident leads to feeling confident. Practice makes perfect.
  6. Get support: I am a big believer of the value of teamwork. Who do you turn to support you when tackling any or all of these new behaviors? Who can you support in kind? We all need collaborative partnership to succeed. Who is on your team?

Hope this list of strategies spurs you to move forward with new behaviors and an improved level of confidence.


Some links to additional articles and studies on this topic:

Professor Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explains our inability to differentiate between confidence and competence.

The role of self confidence and career paths.

How lack of confidence holds women back.

Why confidence matters as much as competence.

The secret to career success is not talent, hard work or education, but sheer, unashamed confidence.




Letting Go to Grow

By Lynn Grodzki, LCSW, MCC / copyright August 2016


A well-known business mantra is let go to grow.

This means that at key points in the evolution of a business, you, the owner, need to let go of something so that you and your practice can move forward.

Let go to grow is more than a motto for a savvy business owner: It’s also a challenge for each of us to look at our routines, behaviors, tasks, or long-held ideas.

What needs to change right now or at least be gently retired before the end of the year so that you can advance?

Here are some examples about how you can let go to grow. Commit to find the courage and confidence to take the next steps in your private practice.

Step 1. Decide What Needs to Go

What are you holding onto that no longer makes sense? What slows you down? What stops you from making your small business easier or better?

You may need to let go of:

• Thinking too small about your future.
• A lack of boundaries for your practice policies.
• Routines that sap your energy.
• An insistence to do everything by yourself — denying yourself help and assistance where needed.
• A belief that you can’t raise your fees.
• Sticking with an insurance-only business model.

or maybe you need to stop:

• Letting fear win.
• Operating without a business plan.
• Undercharging and then feeling resentful.
• Hesitating to reach out to those who need to know about your services.
• A reluctance to brand yourself or find your niche.

Step 2. Let Go with Grace

I have been thinking a lot about the process of letting go on a personal level, because I just physically moved my home and office. Although I moved within the same city, I still needed to let go of 30 years of stuff, familiar routines, and a neighborhood I loved. Not easy tasks for me.

To really embrace the change meant I needed to open up. I needed to have the space inside myself to allow in the new. What made it easier was an inspiring contemporary piece of poetry that gave me another framework for letting go. It helps to have the right mind-set when letting go.

You can read it here, with permission of the poet:

She Let Go

by Rev. Safire Rose

She let go.

Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Step 3. Take the Right Steps

Once you identify what to let go, then you need to know what to start doing instead. You will need to have a plan for letting go to grow.

For example, here are 3 goals many small business owners desire:
• More money
• More full fee clients
• More time

And here is a quick strategy I offer for each goal, so you know what to let go of and what to focus on to achieve growth in each area.

More Money

What to let go:

  • Working without a financial plan
  • Negative beliefs about negotiation
  • Resistance to running a business, not a hobby

What to focus on instead:

  • Tracking your income and expenses on paper so you can see the reality of your money at a glance
  • Learning the basics of successful negotiation to handle conversations about money in a confident and therapeutic manner
  • Adopting the mindset and practices of an ethical business owner

More Clients

What to let go:

  • Old ideas of marketing and mistrust of new technology
  • Negative beliefs about your low value
  • Resistance to how much it takes to stay visible with referral sources

What to focus on instead:

  • Make sure that you have a strong and compelling online presence
  • Identify your clinical strengths and the return on investment your clients receive from their work with you
  • Scheduling marketing activities with a new marketing plan you feel is within your comfort zone

More Time

What to let go:

  • Time drains including distractions and procrastination
  • Hopeless and helpless thinking
  • Resistance to delegating, hiring others, or using technology for practice management

What to focus on instead:

  • Protecting and safeguarding your time and energy
  • Countering negative thoughts with positive action steps
  • Exploring strategies for streamlining tasks

Do you need help to take the next steps in this plan? Let’s talk. I can be reached for an Intro session here:

or email:

Business and Self-deception

Private Practice Success Newsletter

by Lynn Grodzki, LCSW, MCC / Sept 2015

In a small business, it’s not just the way you talk to others that grows your practice; it’s also the way you talk to yourself. Negative, self-deceptive internal dialogue can derail a business owner. Instead, learn how to tap into a better and truer voice, that of your inner entrepreneur.

How Self-deception Works

It’s Monday morning and you have a list of business tasks to do this week, apart from seeing scheduled clients. Your list reads: Make an overdue marketing call, rewrite your website homepage, complete all client notes, do the monthly billing, clean off the office desk.

You have set aside time in your calendar for each task and feel assured that you can accomplish all the items on the list.

You start with the marketing phone call. You have a colleague that you respect, someone you have made several referrals to over the past year and although you are friendly, you have yet to have a referral from her. You decide to be more direct after saying hello, to tell her that you have some openings in one of your groups and ask for a referral. This feels like a bit of a risk since you tend to be unassuming, even a people pleaser, but you want to practice being more direct about your business needs.

As you get ready to dial her phone number, you pause. A series of thoughts go through your mind. “It’s not fair that I have to make this call. I help her, why doesn’t she automatically just help me back? Why do I have to work so hard for referrals anyway, its easier for everyone else but me. Forget it. If she wants to refer a client to me, she knows where to find me.” You decide not to make the call, feeling upset but justified.

Unknowingly, you have just become the victim of your own self-deceptive thinking.

Self-deception Defined

Self-deception is a process of thinking based on misleading ourselves and rationalizing our resulting behavior.

We convince ourselves that what we think about a situation or even ourselves is true, despite evidence or information to the contrary. We justify our mistaken beliefs because it keeps us feeling momentarily safe and self-righteous. With self-deceptive thinking we can explain why we don’t make an important call–to avoid possible rejection– even though this course of non-action means that our business misses a potential opportunity to grow.

Self-deceptive thinking interferes with a critical element in being a successful business owner: having an entrepreneurial mindset. An entrepreneurial mindset means you have an equal measure of both optimism and pragmatism. When you tap into your “inner entrepreneur” you can hold a vision of what’s possible while, at the same time, assess reality.

An entrepreneurial mindset gives you the fuel for taking action: you stay hopeful and focused on your goals. When self-deceptive thinking creeps in, filtered with negativity and bias, it has the power to stop you in your tracks.

I see three patterns of self-deception that commonly occur in those who own and operate a private practice. Here is an explanation of each destructive pattern and tips to correct it immediately, so that you can follow through with all your Monday morning action lists.

The Fallacies

Those who studied the work of Aaron Beck and David Burns, known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, are aware of the long list of cognitive distortions– thinking patterns that inhibit desired behavior. (See a list of common cognitive distortions here in a short article by John Grohol

A small group of these distortions are called “the fallacies.” Three of these fallacies contain highly self-deceptive patterns of thinking that I see especially problematic for those in business:
1. The Fallacy of Control – when your practice doesn’t develop the way you think it should, you feel like this is your fate (you have no control) or that you alone are to blame (you control everything)
2. The Fallacy of Fairness – you feel resentful based on the lack of fairness inherent in business—bad things happening to good therapists doesn’t seem right
3. The Fallacy of Heaven’s Reward – you have trouble reconciling the large professional sacrifice you have made and the subsequent little lack of compensation you receive

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, welcome to the world of business and self-deception. Read on to better understand how each of these 3 fallacies works and my tips to overcome and correct each one today.

The Fallacy of Control

We yearn for control of our lives and our practices.

When we see little result from our best efforts at marketing, writing, networking or other business actions, we can start to feel like we are up against something bigger and more difficult than mere business realities. We can feel cursed by fate, or at odds with the energetic forces of a larger universe.

Therapists and other helping professionals I coach may tell me that a workshop didn’t fill with clients, or a Psychology Today directory listing got no response, or a meeting with a colleague yielded no referrals. As we talk, I often hear self-deceptive thinking about control. Some insist that the fault is an outside force, like fate. Others take full blame themselves, as though it is a reflection of their inadequacy.

The answer is more often a mixture of factors. Our best efforts are always affected by many factors outside of our control, such as timing or a crowded marketplace and by factors within our control, such as having the right business strategy or a willingness to follow through with the sheer amount of personal effort and expense that most business strategies require to succeed.

Take marketing, for example. I often remind therapists that all of their marketing effort is really marketing research. No one knows for sure what any given marketing effort is going to produce. Given a lack of control over the outcome, the most you can do when marketing is test out the marketplace with an idea and then try to assess the results as feedback.

Then you have to decide to repeat, tweak the idea, or try something else, and of course, retest.

The bottom line is that we have limited control in business, as in life. Some find it is easier to deal with the lack of control by self-deceptive rationalization that a business task is “not meant to be” or “not meant for me.” Others collapse in blame and feelings of failure. Neither is good for the health and welfare of your private practice.

Tip: When faced with issues of control, tap into your inner entrepreneur for better self-talk, such as: “I won’t let myself feel victimized by fear and become inactive. I detach from immediate results and choose to continually take action that furthers the direction of my vision and goals.”

The Fallacy of Fairness

Therapists and other helping professionals often feel that the success of their private practice should follow their own definition of fairness. But if fairness means justice or worthy or even rightness to you, then you will find that business results are rarely based on what is fair. For example, the rate of all new business failure in the US remains at 50% and this is not necessarily about who is more deserving or who tries harder. As with the above fallacy of control, there are many other causes at play.

The fallacy of fairness can occur in many ways. A counselor in a busy metropolitan area says, “If I do good work with clients, the work should speak for itself. It’s not fair that a caseload is based on an advertising or Google adwords budget rather than the skill and effectiveness of the clinician.”

A life coach says, “I have been in practice twice as long as my colleague, yet she got asked to present at a conference that I was dying to speak at and it’s not fair.”

Harold Kushner’s book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, challenged the idea of fairness, trying to reconcile the concepts of divinity with randomness. Business success unfortunately carries the same degree of circumstance. Two therapists in the same city having the same training, specialty and even the same work ethic, can have quite varied degrees of practice success. Business results are not always fair.

Tip: Rather than emphasize fairness, you do better to focus on a clear list of business goals. If we were working together, I would ask questions like these to help shift the internal, self-deceptive conversation:
• What do you specifically want and need?
• What is your plan to achieve those goals this month?
• What additional resources do you need?
• How much time and effort can you devote to each goal?
• Who can help support you as you move forward?

The Fallacy of Heaven’s Reward

The helping professions require sacrifice, in terms of extending caring beyond session time and a host of uncompensated efforts. For example, we think about our clients outside of client sessions, we continually train to improve our skills at our own expense; we read and study throughout our professional lives. Many of us work hard for relatively low income and bemoan the lack of recognition that our profession merits.

Some rationalize this by believing that their commitment, sacrifice and self-denial will be rewarded over time. If the reward does not occur in the way it was expected, they feel betrayed. This is the deception of the Heaven’s Reward Fallacy.

This fallacy is a particularly tricky form of self-deception because it addresses an often unspoken, but expected and inherent trust about the act of helping others. It feels important that helping and giving should result in getting back.

Therapists tell me, “With the intrusion of insurance-based regulations and increasingly difficult caseloads, I give so much and at times, get back so little.” Many are left shaking their heads and wondering if their career was worth it.

I see this fallacy play out in private practice in ways both large and small: the therapist who slides her fee for a client in need then feels angry when that same client tells her about the wonderful vacation he just booked to France; the consultant who agrees to work Saturdays outside her regular work week to accommodate a client and then feels taken advantage of when the client suddenly quits for another consultant who charges less.

If you regularly violate your own policies or practice boundaries for clients, or agree to unacceptable working conditions based on some future expectation of appreciation, you are vulnerable to this fallacy.

Tip: Stay focused on the present. Respect your policies and practice boundaries. Take time for self-care and address any secondary trauma. Find ways to reward yourself for your work, using intrinsic rewards.

Intrinsic rewards are those within your control, based on the here and now. Boost your feelings of satisfaction, joy, and pride based on your work. Keep a list of your “business wins” each week and celebrate your achievements with others you trust. After a major effort, plan something big, to celebrate yourself. Don’t wait for others or even society to see your efforts. You know what you have accomplished, make it count within yourself.


Preparing for Your Future

by Lynn Grodzki, Private Practice Success Newsletter, May 2015

In March 2015, I presented at the prestigious Psychotherapy Networker Symposium as part of a panel titled “The Future of Private Practice.” LISTEN TO FREE AUDIO

Each of the 4 experts gave a Ted-style talk: a 20-minute focused snapshot of their take on the most critical economic and social forces shaping today’s practices.

When I wasn’t on stage, I listened and took careful notes to pass along to you. Here is what I heard, in the order of the speakers on the panel (my talk was second and I have added the link to audio there as promised):

1. “Therapy on the Run”by Ofer Zur

Ofer Zur, whom many readers may know from his workshops and writings ( offered a checklist of 68 business “key ingredients” — in rapid pace during the 20 minutes he had to speak! Her is making his checklist available to my readers, see it HERE.

He started by asking if people felt like business owners or just clinicians; then he asked the audience to identify their areas of expertise. He differentiated between passion—where your heart is—versus your areas of expertise, because these are not always the same.

His checklist included the need for budgeting money, tracking data, getting office help, maintaining secure records, and risk avoidance in terms of ethical violations.

The last topic is one near and dear to Ofer, who works as a forensic psychologist concerning ethics. To avoid risk, he recommends that you have forms (ones that you create for this purpose) covering any unusual practices (willingness to see family members of an individual client, ability to confer with outside therapists on a case, etc.) and get them signed, to eliminate any misunderstandings between you and your primary clients. Explain how you work, set your boundaries and policies, and then back it all up with written forms.

He said that one of the top risk management issues that land therapists in court are those that push a therapist outside of the scope of work –writing custody letters to support one parent over another tops the list. “Don’t write any letters or documents putting you in a role outside of the normal scope of your work.”

Ofer strongly advises therapists go back to basics and balance online marketing with tried and true community outreach. Early in his career, he built a full practice quickly after giving a series of public talks on an issue that was affecting families and children in his locale—domestic violence. His first talk was on “Fighting and Loving.” Even though his talk was somewhat controversial because he addressed the role of the woman in domestic violence, this immediately helped establish him as an expert in the community, led to other talks, and eventually filled his practice.

2. “Navigating the New Psychotherapy Marketplace” by Lynn Grodzki

For my 20-minute talk, I first gave an overview of the change in the therapy market and some promising news: The numbers of people needing therapy is growing, due to Obamacare, a growing acceptance of therapy, and mental health parity.

A big, new, expanding market is opening up right now for helping professionals. But most of these new clients are finding their therapist from the Internet and as such, present some new challenges for their providers.

I talked about both the opportunities and challenges this market presents, and for the bulk of my talk I focused on the 3 top skills you need to reach and retain these new clients and make your work relevant.

The skills I outlined are:
• Negotiation
• Persuasion
• Anticipation

I showed how these are both business and clinical skills –and gave case examples to explain and highlight the application of each skill. You can hear it all, I have posted my 20-minute talk right here: LISTEN TO FREE AUDIO

3. “Creating a Brand for Your Practice” by Joe Bavonese

Joe Bavonese ( is a specialist in Internet marketing and also consults on group practices. In this talk, which he immediately said would be less about branding and more about business essentials, he traced his own route in private practice from uncertainty to prosperity.

Joe became a model of a therapist who embraces a business mindset and skillset, using organizational systems to streamline his group practice. He spent considerable time and money learning how to market online effectively. Along the way, he also learned how to manage others and be a boss.

He was willing to try anything that might work and see opportunities and abundance. Joe admitted that not everything he has tried succeeds, but it is his willingness to respond to change.

One application was his ability to learn about Internet marketing. He studied business, and was willing to capitalize his business in a way that many therapists will not (many believe that a private practice should be run on a shoestring.) He spoke about the “lifetime value of a referral” how much the average client brings to a practice and what would you be willing to pay for this. He developed systems for every aspect of his practice.

Joe emphasized that Internet marketing is about getting found. Most searches are now happening by cell phones and to help your website get found, it must be mobile friendly. Google will now penalize your ranking if it is not.

How to be mobile friendly: Go to this Google link:
and put in your website domain to analyze if your website is mobile friendly. If it is not, don’t despair. It might be an easy fix, just installing a “plug-in” or at most, you may need to get some help from a web designer to shift the template to make it work with a phone format.

4. “Learning the Language of Integrative Health” by Rubin Naiman

Rubin’s message about the future was clear: Therapists need to stay part of medical care, now more than ever since so many illnesses have a psychological component.

We have to develop a shared language of health and wellness to be able to talk with and educate physicians. Rubin should know, he is a member of an Arizona Center for Integrated Medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil.

Rubin makes a distinction between illness and disease. Disease is a measure, illness is the experience. Therapists speak to the personal, subjective experience of feeling sick. Psychotherapy brings to healthcare the concept that patients “can be sick in a healthy way.”

He encourages a dialogue between therapists and physicians about body and mind experience. Most psychotherapy is symptom expressive, where medicine is symptom suppressive.

Therapists need to learn the language of medicine, attend grand rounds at the hospital, read medical literature, and call clients “patients”. We need to help doctors understand our needed role in health and wellness.


Hope this is helpful, to hear more from the Networker Symposium, go to the recordings at their website:

Word of the Year

Private Practice Success Newsletter

by Lynn Grodzki, LCSW, MCC / Jan 2015

Oh, the power of a single word.

This week, a meeting of linguists searched for the past year’s most powerful word. Among the finalists were amusing words like “manspreading” (when a man spreads his legs on public transportation, blocking other seats) and serious words like “culture” to signify a community, like a consumer culture.

The search for the best word is on. Oxford dictionary looks for the previous year’s Word of The Year (WOTY) as do magazines like the Economist. While it’s interesting to sum up the past year so concisely, I am more interested in looking forward. Let’s use word power to help set a direction for your practice in 2015.

I looked at a number of WOTY approaches I liked, including this one from Christine Kane, but found that I needed to develop one for people just like us–therapists, coaches, healing and helping professionals in business–who want to think about 2015 with a specific focus.

Here’s how to find the right WOTY for yourself and your practice that can really set your intention for 2015. Then I will show you how to make it actionable.

What’s Your Word?

Is there one word, a single word, that sums up all of your hopes, dreams and needs for your practice this year? One word that names your most important mission or purpose?

What word describes your 2015 business desire? Choose carefully, and make sure that this word speaks not just to your head, but also to your heart.

The right word can be idealistic or pragmatic. It may fill you with excitement or add to a sense of calm; it may make you uncomfortable (if its a big goal) and feel like a big stretch from where you find yourself now. Or perhaps it validates your existing direction–you are almost there and just need more time.

What do you want most to achieve this year? How big of a challenge will you accept? Just like a racer in a speedy car poised to go around a track, choosing the right word starts your engine toward reaching the goal.

Here is an important caveat: I know there is a big difference between choosing a word versus knowing how to achieve it. Of course there is effort and work involved. No problem, we will also deal with the strategy and action required.

But the first step is defining your theme with just one word. This step expands awareness and begins a commitment. Name and claim what you (and your practice) stand for this year.

Good Business Words

Some of my clients are focused on increasing income this year. They chose these words: money, profitable, thriving, waitlist, productive, savings, wealth, full-fee, attraction, prosperity, and plenty.

Other clients feel that time is more precious than money. They offered these: balance, peace, abundance, freedom, fun, relaxed, ease.

Another group are thinking about the overall satisfaction they experience in business. They chose: autonomous, fulfilled, pioneer, creative, visionary, integrity, confidence, leadership and one of my favorites, ideal.

These are just suggestions. I want you to find your own, best word of the year. Once you determine your word, go a bit deeper with these 3 questions:

  • What makes this WOTY the right one for you and your practice this year?
  • How close or far are you from this goal right now?
  • What strengths and resources will you draw upon?

Now Take Action:
The Word of the Year requires an action plan. First, do some preparation in the areas of gathering information, getting support, and budgeting.

Information: Make sure you know enough to begin.
• Do you have the information or strategies you need to move forward?
• If not, what is your plan for gathering information (independent research from the Internet, training, helpful books, informational interviews of those who are models of success, etc.) ?

Support: Surround yourself with a circle of advice, help and backing.
• What support do you need to help you manifest your WOTY?
• Who can your turn to for mentoring, coaching, or other consulting? Who can you hire? Which peers and colleagues would be happy to support you? Who can you be accountable to?

Budget: Invest in your Word.
• What would accomplishing your WOTY be worth to you?
• How much money can you invest in this plan? How much time can you devote?  What other budget items need to be considered?

Word-based Goals and Actions:
List your top 5 goals and actions for the first 6 months of 2015.

List your top 5 goals and actions for the final 6 months of 2015.

OK, you have a plan. Time to start moving forward and taking action with your WOTY!

I would love to know what WOTY you selected and how this is working for you. Leave a reply below to share about your direction this year.

copyright 2015 by Lynn Grodzki


Private Practice Success Newsletter

by Lynn Grodzki, Oct 2014.


Last month, I attended a remarkable event: I went to the memorial service for my former psychotherapist and mentor, Marilyn Ellis, that was attended by many of her clients from her long career.

I know that speaking publicly about one’s therapist is rare; most of us who have been in therapy tend to keep the experience private. But I wish that people would talk more openly about their experience with therapy, sharing the good that therapists do.

I want to pay tribute to Marilyn. Tribute, an old Latin word which is defined as an act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration, feels like an appropriate expression to someone who had a huge impact on my life and work.

Marilyn was not a therapist superstar. She never wrote a book, went on a speaking tour, recorded an audio or gave a Ted talk. She didn’t even have a website. But at this memorial service, her legacy was clear. Over and over, attendees celebrated the good fortune of having Marilyn for a therapist.

Some spoke about her unique style–a dizzying combination of fearless toughness and deep compassion. Some told funny stories about their time with her. People were laughing and crying and nodding their heads to say, that happened to me with Marilyn, too.

I saw a number of people I know, her clients who are themselves therapists, coaches and healers. Marilyn loved her work and made service to others look like a good profession to pursue; like a heroic salmon swimming upstream, she left dozens of next generation therapists spawned in her wake.

Carrying the Message

Having Marilyn as my therapist changed the course of my life. During the many years we worked together she helped me to first identify and resolve my personal issues and then supported my progress as I remarried, changed careers, became a therapist and later, became a coach and author. She was passionate about the importance of personal growth. She pushed me to be true to my purpose and be my best self. I try to carry these same values to those I work with every day.

So many people at the service spoke about her combination of compassion and directness that they try to embody in their own work and lives. After the memorial, I thought about her lasting impact. Marilyn’s legacy was in the people she helped, and, in turn, in the people they help. It goes well beyond what even she might have understood.

The Person versus The Process

Marilyn was known for being eclectic, combining multiple techniques as a therapist. She was a lifelong student, learning new methods and then integrating them into her work, evolving over time.

But regardless of what method she was using, it was her presence that was the resounding element of her work. At times, many of us who are also engaged in learning new methods forget that the process we use is only a small part of our impact. Who we are, not just what we do, makes the difference.

Marilyn clearly made a difference to her clients, far beyond her skills and methods. I am grateful she was my therapist.

Articulating Your Essence

I talk about this last distinction, the person versus the process, with therapists I coach. We all need to find ways to articulate who we are, not just what we do. Both are essential to the results we deliver.

If you want to enhance your ability to communicate your essence, here is a quick list of seven questions on the website for you to think through.

To Describe Your Essence, Answer These Questions:

  1. What are the benefits of working with you versus another therapist, coach, healer or helping professional?
  2. What do you offer that is unique and different?
  3. How does your personality and non-professional experience add to your professional presence?
  4. What do clients value about you as a person and you as a professional?
  5. What do clients value about your practice, office, and services?
  6. What successes have you had and why?
  7. What can clients anticipate or expect from their work with you? (Hint: Think about outcome, process, and accessibility.)


copyright by Lynn Grodzki, 2014, all rights reserved. Reprint by permission only.

Finding Your Niche

Private Practice Success Newsletter, January 2014

By Lynn Grodzki, LCSW, MCC

Do you have the itch to niche? One way to attract ideal clients is to target your market the right way, using a strategy that includes focus, research and ownership.


In Maryland, where I live, its been a snowy and cold start to the year. This gives me lots of time to think about new year resolutions and I am listening to what the therapists I coach want for their practices in 2014. No surprise, many therapists hope that 2014 will bring them ideal clients — the clients that allow a therapist to do his or her best work.

Here is a strategy that I suggest to help therapists attract ideal clients in 2014: Be intentional and target your marketing efforts. Let me help you understand the wisdom behind targeting a market, or as one colleague says, “Scratching my itch to niche.”

Targeting a market means narrowing the types and numbers of clients you try to attract. You might think, “I need clients now. I will work with anyone. I have many skills and like to deal with a lot of issues and topics. I can work with all populations. What if by targeting my market I miss out on potential clients?”

While it sounds counter-intuitive to narrow your pool of clients, targeting a market is actually the most effective way to build a viable therapy business over time. This is both a marketing strategy as well as a business model. You are building a practice to last, right? You need to get ready for the long term. I want you to conserve your energy, your costs, and your time.

By targeting your market you will achieve three key marketing objectives:
•    Focus
•    Research 
•    Ownership 

First, get focused. Don’t make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. This is understandable, because when you are hungry for clients, you fear rejecting any potential business. It makes sense, in your urgency, to believe that anyone and everyone is a possible client.

But take a deep breath and think this through: you need to have a marketing plan that is effective over time. You want to keep your marketing tasks and costs manageable, so you don’t get overwhelmed. By focusing clearly on a niche, a specialty, you can tailor your therapy message so that it has maximum impact.

When a business owner takes a focused approach to marketing, the conversion rate of potential to actual clients goes way up. You increase your return on investment (ROI). When you get focused, you can target people that are also focused—those potential clients who know what they want and need, and are looking for a therapist just like you.

Next, do some quick research. To build a receptive audience for your services, you need to really know your clientele. What do they need? Is there a service that is not being addressed or needs not currently met?

It’s easier to figure out the needs of the market if you narrow your approach. If your market is too broad, the market research (for example, understanding who your therapy clients are or what specific referral sources value) is too vast and daunting.

Finally, take ownership. With focus and research, you are in a position to offer the right people the right services. It’s time to brand yourself and present your expertise. You can be a big fish in a little pond. With a select market, it’s possible to build a reputation much faster than if you stayed with a broad, vast pool of generic clients.

Still trying to identify your specialty? A therapist can identify a niche in many ways, all based on your uniqueness. Maybe you will set yourself apart based on the issues you treat, population seen, services offered, methods, office locations and hours, or even consistent results. Any one of these can help people identify your practice from others.

Let’s look at this further, with an exercise, a case example, and a helpful checklist. First, the exercise:

Exercise: Find Your Niche
Answer the following questions to gain clarity.

  • Who is my specific target market?
  • How can I narrow this market even further?
  • What are the services, methods, benefits and results I offer to this market?
  • Is anything about my practice different from other practices? How can I highlight my uniqueness?
  • Am I passionate about my areas of specialty?
  • Could I build my reputation on this one specialty?

Case Study: Finding Your Niche

Tracey, a social worker, decided after much discussion that her niche or specialty would be based on her training in anxiety. She had completed two years of specialized training in severe anxiety and she loved the work.

To target this market–those with severe anxiety or diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, performance anxiety, social anxiety or other limiting anxiety disorders– I asked her to do some quick research.

I knew that Tracey had limited time for this research. She was busy, so she couldn’t approximate the kind of research done at a university or a marketing division of a company. But there was still information she could find through local channels that would help her in defining this niche.

She searched online and found support groups for OCD in her area and contacted two of them to find out about their groups, how many showed up for meetings, how active the chat groups were online, as a way of understanding the market.

She talked to a counselor at a nearby university counseling center about the prevalence of social anxiety and performance problems with students. Interestingly, this query also became a marketing win! The college counseling center said that this problem was on an increase and told her they needed resources for referrals. She was delighted to give them her card.

Emboldened by this, Tracey contacted every college or prep school counselor in a 5 mile radius around her office. She also queried 3 other therapists in her professional association known for treating severe anxiety. They said that their practices were full. This created concerns for her.

“If there are already therapists in this niche, why does it need one more?” she asked. “Is there room for me?” I told her that finding a number of other practices doing similar work did not need to be discouraging. Sometimes, it is just an indication of a need in the marketplace. Chances were good that her city could include at least one more therapist with this specialty.

Having done her research, Tracey felt confident and had solid reasons to own her choice of a niche. Her marketing plan was easier to create and achieve because it was specific and very focused. Not surprisingly, her practice began to fill within the first several months with what she felt were “the right clients.”


My colleague Ben Dean, founder of MentorCoach, suggests the following list of considerations when targeting a market and finding your niche. His criteria are relevant for a psychotherapy practice as well as a coaching practice. While not all criteria are necessary for a successful niche, they are all worth considering. Here are his top 3 criteria, and then see the link below to his article with all 14.

* Passion. Do you feel passion for the niche? Are these the kinds of clients you would enjoy working with? Do you find the work you will be doing meaningful and satisfying? For those of us at midlife, this criterion is essential. It is not sufficient to be able to be highly compensated. The niche must be satisfying and fun.

* A Burning Need. Is there an intense, perceived need for the niche in the minds of your potential clients?  The more intense their pain (or conversely, the more attractive the benefit you help them realize), the more quickly will the niche respond to your efforts.

* Underserved. Is the niche underserved? As with Tracey, when considering a new niche, know how much is already being offered to the niche. How much competition do you face? What can help you differentiate yourself and your practice?

Want to know more? To see Ben’s entire list of 14 criteria, please click on this link below. (Quick note, Ben’s article is geared for coaches in private practice, but very relevant for therapists.) Here is the link:

More next time!

Lynn Grodzki

Handling Uncertainty

by Lynn Grodzki,LCSW, MCC 
Private Practice Success Newsletter  10/01/13
This week the US government shut down for the first time in 17 years, causing political instability that is added to an already uncertain economy. How do these uncertain times affect your private practice?

This morning the news is full of the government shut down. Events like these that play out on a national level affect all of us. We are overwhelmed with difficult news every week, from the macro, global issues affecting our planet to those more personal issues affecting the quality of our daily lives. It is no surprise that researchers report that general uncertainty is on the rise.

According to an article from the International Monetary Fund, general uncertainty, or feelings of instability and insecurity about the future are being felt around the country, especially when it comes to economics. The IMF explains that the old patterns of financial ups and downs, like recession and recovery, are no longer following the usual script. We find ourselves in uncharted waters — hence a lot of us are worried. And in a circular way, the more we individually worry, the article explains, the more economic uncertainty persists.

How does uncertainty affect you in your private practice? What can you do to feel more stable and confident as a small business owner? Let’s look at some micro-solutions that fall within your control.

In my last book that was written to address the recession, Crisis-Proof Your Practice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Uncertain Economy, I recommended a comprehensive 4-step plan to help those in private practice feel calm during times of crisis. I showed readers how to think strategically, set goals and take advantage of the options inherent within an economic slowdown.

Here is a brief look at my 4-step plan with a few ideas from my book to improve your practice stability and your personal confidence:

1. Review: To feel in control, it helps to know the very ground upon which you (and your practice) stand.

Conduct an honest inventory of your practice, as it is today. How do you judge the health of your practice? What markers do you use? It helps to have a way to summarize your current practice including your specific strengths, challenges, assets and liabilities. What are your short term goals? Want to get them on paper? See this link to my Strong Start Survey, ten questions to answer to assess your practice and its needs.

2. Recommit: When you are the boss, you need to take responsibility to insure the protection and well-being of your practice. Can you commit to your practice’s future as though it were a beloved child that you were guiding and caring for over time?

Here are a few ideas for maintaining and protecting your practice:
•    Have sufficient insurance coverage
•    Break away from unhealthy dependencies that obstruct profitability
•    Retool or upgrade your systems and operations so that your practice management is streamlined
•    Decide to operate a more efficient business — one that reflects the best of who you are today

3. Rebrand: Can potential clients find you easily? Can you highlight your value in a simple sentence? This is the time to assess and shape your reputation, to define how you are recognized in your professional community and the community at large.

Clarify and then articulate your brand — the essence of the best of yourself and your services. Be consistent so that all your marketing materials (brochures, website, advertising, internet listings, online visibility, etc.) support and align with your brand.

4. Reinvest: You (the owner) are the most valuable asset of your private practice. Your well-being, including your entrepreneurial mindset, can be the difference between going the distance or giving up. For the success of your practice, don’t skimp on your self-care.

Consider how you can be healthier and stronger. Below, see a Checklist I prepared of steps that greatly improve self care. Use your checklist to determine your next actions to invest in yourself.Check those items that are true for you.

Extreme Self-Care Checklist

A majority of these items checked indicates that you have ample care of self; checking less than half means that you may need to improve your self-care to have the energy with which to stabilize yourself and your business.

•  I get a good night’s sleep each evening.
•  I eat foods that promote my physical well-being.
•  I exercise several times each week to stay flexible and resilient.
•  I have quiet time each week for myself, doing things I love, so that I feel refreshed.
•  I have friends and family that I can talk to whenever I need a sense of connection.
•  I make time each week to engage in activities that give me pleasure.
•  I live in a home that feels nurturing, safe, and pleasing.
•  I get all my personal needs met outside of my practice.
•  I am on a strong financial track.
•  I get clinical supervision, peer support and business consulting/coaching as needed.
•  I actively seek solutions for the complaints I have regarding my life and my work.
•  I maintain a high level of personal and professional integrity.
•  I know how to forgive and/or feel compassion for myself and others who have hurt me in the past.
•  I let go of my guilt over my past mistakes.
•  I keep clear, consistent boundaries regarding my personal and professional life.
•  I rarely rush; I go through my day being on time.
•  I carry the insurance and protection systems I need to feel and stay safe and protected.
•  I take action based on feelings of love instead of feelings of fear.
•  I am part of a community that gives me a sense of purpose.
•  I live a life based on choice and meaning.

(Checklist is from Crisis-Proof Your Practice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Uncertain Economy by Lynn Grodzki, WW Norton, 2009)


Copyright 2013 by Lynn Grodzki, all rights reserved. Reprint with permission of author.

Keep Writing

By Lynn Grodzki, LCSW, MCC

Private Practice Success Newsletter, Dec 2012


Start Writing

As someone who spends a fair amount of her professional time writing (5 books published in 10 years, dozens of articles written for a variety of professional magazines or journals, and a monthly newsletter for 10 years, written for my email readers) — I know firsthand that writing is hard work.

Did you have a writing project for 2012 that you did not achieve? So many things can sabotage writing: time demands, life demands, or anything else that derails us and makes us believe that whatever we want to express is not worth the time, effort, or exposure.

I have been thinking about my process of writing after completing a long article that was just published in the Psychotherapy Networker Magazine (Read it here) I think this article is some of my best writing, but it was far from easy for me; in fact, it was a slog. It took me a full year to complete and required three completely different drafts, all of which I loved but were rejected (or “corrected” — choose your verb) by a rigorous and thoughtful editor.

The Struggle

Part of the slog of writing this article was that I was on my learning curve, writing in a style that was new to me. The editor kept asking me to slow down and unpack my thinking process, to reveal more about who I am and what I think – to be less of an expert and more of a peer to the reader. His notes for each draft asked me to go deeper and explain further. He wanted a lot of narrative and personal anecdotes.

Even when I thought I had done just what we agreed, he challenged me to start from a new place and use a different slant. After each draft, I felt increasingly uncertain and it slowed my progress. The article went through starts and stops. Months passed. My previous writing experience did not help; I felt like a beginning writer.

Why bother? Was it worth my time and energy? I wasn’t getting paid. Why not stick with what I know? These thoughts were ever present, threatening to derail the process completely. But I found ways to stay on track, helped by relying on a few writing “mantras” — phrases that I have developed over time to hold me to the task. I wanted to share these writing mantras with you, in case they might help you in a similar way.

Lynn’s Writing Mantras

1. It’s my job.

Writing seems like fun only to those who write for fun. For those who write seriously – as a regular part of their work – it soon loses mystery or glamour. When writing becomes tiresome, I remember it’s a job; it’s part of my professional work. I shift from acting like writing is a pastime and raise it to the level of a professional task. As a pastime, I would try to fit in writing time around other more important commitments. But if it’s a professional task, I block out time on my calendar and let nothing else interfere. As a pastime, I can multi-task while I write; but if it’s a professional task, I turn off the phone and email and devote my full attention. As a pastime, I wait to be inspired, to be in the mood. But if it is my professional task, I do it regardless of my disposition.

2. It’s supposed to be difficult.

I hear from those I coach that when writing gets hard, they think they are doing something wrong. But that’s a faulty equation. I frame my process of writing as similar to my practice of exercise.  When I go to the gym, if I am doing it right, it’s hard and I moan and groan and sweat. With exercise, hard work is usually considered a sign of effectiveness. So, although it is great when writing comes easily, I don’t need to be worried by the level of effort it usually requires.

Things I find hard about non-fiction writing include: having to sit for hours at a time, when my job already requires a lot of sitting; looking at a blank page; feeling blocked; numerous edits and rewrites; having nothing to say; having too much to say; clarifying my jumbled thoughts; trying to be original. Especially hard is how much time writing takes and how slowly it proceeds. Hard work doesn’t mean I don’t write it well, or that the end product won’t be valuable. It just means that it takes a lot of time and effort. I need to accept how writing is for me, get over my complaints and get on with it.

3. Keep Writing

Several years ago I attended a Mystics game, the women’s basketball team (WNBA) in Washington, DC. They were losing badly, mostly due to the problems their star shooter, Alana Beard, was facing that night. She missed shot after shot. After each miss, the fans in the stadium groaned, except for a small cadre of women seated near me who yelled out: “Alana, keep shooting!” She missed, they immediately encouraged her to try again. Their encouragement actually seemed to help. Alana looked up at them a few times and nodded. She kept asking for the ball and shooting. By the second half, she was making shots that scored. She didn’t give up based on her earlier failure.

I remember that Mystics game and Alana’s willingness to keep trying when I feel like my writing isn’t successful. As Woody Allen said, 90% of success is showing up. It reminds me to keep writing.

4. Let the environment help.

One of my mentors, coach Thomas Leonard, said that not all behavior change has to occur inside of a person. Sometimes, you’re better off trying to use the environment. Can’t write routinely or get distracted and lose your motivation? Set up your writing space with care and creativity, so it helps you write. Once I read an essay by author Joan Didion about her practice. She wrote every day for many hours. She said that sometimes she dreaded having to “go into that room” to get to work. I thought: She has a room just for writing? No wonder she is so prolific. I don’t have an entire room, but I do have a corner of my office that is set up for writing. It is clean, organized, quiet and welcoming. I have a good chair, good lighting. It’s conducive to the task at hand. When I sit down in my writing chair, even when I think I have nothing to say, the contained setting helps to hold me in and get started.

5. Embrace editing.

I am a big fan of editing, and by that I mean letting other people see my writing, while it is in process. Few of us can be objective with what we write. I ask friends, colleagues, other writers, and family to be early readers, and I have regularly hired professional copy editors as needed to help me polish finished chapters and articles. (Tip: your readers should be people who want the best for you, who are clearly on your side, and are able to articulate their thoughts about your work in ways that are helpful.)

The best advice I got about editing came from my colleague, author Nancy Napier, who had published two books when I was still writing my first. I had not yet gone through an editing process with the publisher and she urged me to embrace the editing process. Nancy advised me to let go of ego, stay non-defensive, and understand that editing is a collaboration to produce the best product. This is now the way I receive feedback, from readers and editors: with appreciation, even if I ultimately decide to go a different way.

6. Any day I get to write is a good day.

I am fortunate that I am able to write and that I like to write. For me, writing is a chance to be with myself and reach out to others. It’s a chance to create and think. Even though it is often hard work and requires definite time, space and energy, I remind myself that any day I get to write — whether it is important writing or a short blog entry — is a good day. Wishing you lots of good writing time!

Responding to Change

by Lynn Grodzki, LCSW, MCC

Email Newsletter, September 2011


I have been writing this monthly email newsletter for almost fifteen years. In the spirit of the remembrance this month, I decided to look through my files for what I wrote about ten years ago, in 2001.

I found a draft of that old newsletter whose topic was Disruption and Change, sent out the first of September 2001.  Of course I didn’t know what the country would face ten days later; but the topic is still a valid one, as the degree of complication in our world gets ever more intense.

As master therapist Steve Gilligan says, “One thing you can count on is that life keeps coming at you. The next event is already in the mail.”

The events that disrupt our lives and our work are inevitable, but the question remains the same: What is our best response to disruptive change?

Here are 3 strategies I like:

1)    Lean Forward

I learned one important way to respond to change from my few, pathetic attempts at skiing. The hardest aspect of skiing for me is posture: You need to lean forward into your skis. That means slanting your body over your skis, so you are looking down the hill.

I have had several instructors explain this leaning forward dynamic. Leaning forward helps you maneuver your skis. Leaning forward creates momentum, and actually gives you control by putting more weight on the front of the ski. Leaning forward makes the skis easier to turn and more responsive at high speeds and allows the wind to flow over your body at high speeds.

I get it, I just don’t like it. To balance my innate fear of heights and speed, I like to lean back, waaaay back.

Last time I went skiing, I was perched on a steep hill and I was nervous. I had a brilliant plan. If I traversed the hill, only going side to side, it would still count as skiing and I would feel safe. I began to ski this way. But a friend, a good skier, was watching me. She stopped a bit above me on the hill and watched me for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, finally 20 minutes. (I was barely advancing but getting pretty good at going back and forth, back and forth.) Finally she swished up next to me on her skis and said, kindly but firmly, Lynn, the whole point of skiing is to get down the hill.    

When I meet with therapists, coaches, consultants, in small business today, many of whom are frightened about changes that are affecting their practices, they look just like me on skis. Tense, hesitant, of two minds about what steps to take with lots of back and forth reasoning. They are working against the natural momentum of the change.

Like a ski instructor, I say: “Nothing is wrong, this is how it feels in today’s economy. This is how uncertain markets react, up and down – we are just in a downturn. It’s safe to try some new strategies. Try this, lean forward, let your practice shift and it will gain energy as you move forward.”

I tell them that I know leaning forward into the direction of change may feel unfamiliar and downright scary. But in business (and in skiing) it is the only way to advance. And it’s easier when someone reminds you, from time to time, which way you are supposed to be heading.

2)    Accept What Is True

Responding to change starts with our ability to notice that something is different. We often need a wake-up call to take action, also known as the “attention to intention.”

My good friend called me with a common concern. “I am gaining weight,” she moaned. “I work out the same as before, I eat the same as before, but this summer I am up 5 lbs.” We commiserated about aging, slowing metabolism, the unfairness of it all. But she has a clear choice: adapt to her new, older body and slower metabolism, or accept a little extra weight.

We want things to work the way they used to, and they don’t. It’s similar in a small business. We get attached to an old business model that we liked, one that used to work fine, but now, in a changing market, that old model is no longer resilient.

As a business coach, I try to help my clients see what is true for today and likely for the future. Like my friend tracking her weight, I ask them to start by tracking their own practices for data: What is not working well? What is OK? Where do new clients come from now? How long do they stay? Who is in your professional community—who are you talking with each week, each month? Do they refer? If not, why not? How satisfied are clients with your services? How do you know?

We look at additional strategies to attract clients, better ways to set fees or manage schedules, and trends that can bring new opportunities. When we can see the situation and accept it without judgment or blame, it’s so much easier to be strategic about the future.

3)    Respect the Little Things

I don’t listen to a lot of rap music, but one song I like is by T.I. The chorus (cleaned up of profanity) goes: Big things poppin’, little things stoppin’. The lyrics mean that even though the opportunity for growth is right in front of us, small points of resistance can prevent us from moving forward.

As I explored in my newest book, Crisis-Proof Your Practice, when markets change, business opportunities emerge: new clients, ideas, services, methods, structure — big things poppin! If you can’t see these or take advantage of them, you will most likely be dealing with something small but potent that needs to be addressed fast — little things stoppin.

Here is an example from the world of private practice:

After tracking her practice data, Susan, a Canadian psychotherapist, found that she was getting a fair number of calls from new clients who found her on the Internet. But few of these calls converted to actual clients. Her goal was to create a better website that would reflect her services and in doing so, attract the right kind of clients who would follow up and actually book sessions.

She wrote her new website text, found a website designer and with his help, developed a good design. She was ready to launch the site, but then things ground to a halt.

By the time she called me for help, she had been stuck in this place of inaction for six months. We talked at some length to explore any and all concerns that the launch might be eliciting. She got many interesting insights from our coaching calls, and made plans to launch, but ultimately, did nothing. It confused her (and me.) She stayed stuck, with no change in her behavior. I keep dropping the ball, she would say, sadly.

Shift Happens

One day she came to her coaching call quite excited. “I figured it out, Lynn,” she said. “It’s funny, because it was a small thing, something I overlooked, but it acted as a very powerful brake.

“You know how at the top of the site, under my name, I put my professional degree and then the words “Behavioral Psychologist?

I said I remembered. “Well, I realized that I don’t see myself that way anymore. I don’t like the word Behavioral. It’s wrong and not reflective of the way I work now. It’s been right for me for my previous career, but sends the wrong message to clients. I took it away and just left the word Psychologist and all the sudden, I couldn’t wait to launch. It’s up, take a look!”

We looked at her wonderful, new site and laughed together about the unconscious communication between her  behavior (dropping the ball) and the small necessary step to drop the word Behavioral.

Sometimes we have to get everything aligned, big and small, conscious and un, in order to move forward. So although we don’t want to sweat the small things, those things can be powerful and matter in the end.

Need some help for yourself and your practice? Let’s see if a first step might be individual coaching. To get started click here.