Thoughts on Sailing and Chiropractic
Practice Management
Written by Tom Owen III, D.C.   
Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:47 Read : 1814 times

Thoughts on Sailing and Chiropractic

by Tom Owen III, and Todd Osborne, D.C.


Sometimes there are situations in our lives that desorient us


My father, Dr. Thomas Owen, has often made the statement, “Every principle in business and in life can be related to flying an airplane or sailing a boat.”  Growing up we spent a large amount of time sailing in the Gulf and there certainly are many parallels between life at sea and life as an entrepreneur. One trip in particular comes to mind as a perfect example.
On the day we planned to set sail we were greeted with storms and high winds left over from a hurricane in the Gulf.  Our first priority was getting safely out of the harbor, and we quickly realized that task was going to require careful forethought and planning. We checked the forecast and then took into consideration such factors as the location of our slip in the harbor and the lack of visibility and state of the waters caused by the weather. We combined that information with our past experiences on the sea to determine how to safely get out of the harbor and set sail. We didn’t have a 100% guarantee of the weather or for our safety and success on the sea that day, but we took what we did know and used it to formulate a plan.

Preplanning is so important when you’re preparing to take action; whether it’s choosing a technique or opening a practice. However, in order to prepare, you need to have as much information about your situation as possible because that information is necessary to determine your anticipated outcome.
This is where some people get tripped up.  They either don’t take the time to gather the necessary information and formulate a plan, or they think that because they don’t have 100% of the information available to them, then they can’t make a plan and they give up and don’t do anything at all. Understand that you may have decisions to make and plans to prepare and having absolutely all of the information available to you simply isn’t possible.  Sometimes you are going to be required to factor in a certain amount of risk.  Seldom are all of our plans guaranteed. What you have to do is decide how much risk you are willing to take.  A good rule of thumb to follow is to say, “If I can get __% (you set your number) of the information I need to make this decision, then I will proceed. If not, I will go with a Plan B.”
Once you’ve decided, take the information available to you, weigh it out, make your plans and get on with business. If you wait until you know 100% of everything there is to know about your situation, some decisions will never get made, plans won’t be formulated, and those opportunities will be lost to you forever.  My father says it this way, “It’s called risk, and no one has ever been successful without a little bit of that.”
About an hour into our aforementioned voyage, the storm worsened and visibility became almost non-existent.  As any novice seaman can tell you, there are red and green markers in the water, known by terms “port” and “starboard’ that are placed there to help you safely navigate your voyage. These markers were our salvation on this particular day.
Adding to the stress of the weather, one of our engines mysteriously quit working which made it impossible to move forward. Without the use of that engine, the ship began to slowly spin causing us to be a bit disoriented and lose track of the markers. While I attended to the engine problem, my father, a master seaman, was able to take control of the ship.
Though it was shaping up to be a rough day at sea, we happened upon an unexpected blessing. During all the chaos we discovered three fisher boats from Cape Cod were in front of us. We knew they were very experienced and had successfully navigated these waters many times before. Their familiarity with the waters allowed them to stay on course, even in the low visibility so we just followed in their wake trusting their knowledge and experience would help guide us to safety.
When you have a day such as that out at sea, you realize how important certain things are to keep your ship on course and out of danger. Making a plan, staying within the markers, and following someone more experienced who has already “been there, done that” can make the difference between success and failure.
You never know when you’ll experience cloud cover, low visibility, or engine trouble. It always helps to have been on course in the first place, so that if certain situations cause you to temporarily lose sight of the markers, you know you can’t be that far off.
The illustration of this day at sea makes an obvious point.  Sometimes there are situations in our lives that disorient us or cause us to lose sight of our intended destination.  But if we have planned well, stay on course, and learn from those who have gone before us, we can be guided to success. Just like those markers are there for the seaman, if you have a point of reference, it is always easier to find your way.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been temporarily sidetracked as a result of your own choices, or like the weather, as a result of something you had no control over. Consider the lessons learned that day and find someone who has gone before you, ask their advice, follow in their wake, and let them lead you to success.
One final thought we learned the day we decided to set sail when the weather and waters were less than stellar. A master sailor always uses his good judgement so he doesn’t have to use his master skills.


owenTom Owen III, President of AMC, lectures extensively from coast-to-coast to thousands of chiropractors and students annually. He is the author of Chiropractic from a Business Man’s Perspective, and has spent the last 25 years in the day-to-day trenches of the chiropractic profession. He lives by his quote that “In the end, all that is left are the lives we’ve touched and to what extent they were changed.”

osborneDr. Todd Osborne, a 1989 graduate of Palmer College, ran a successful high volume multiple doctor practice, and is currently Vice President of AMC, Inc., as well as an author and lecturer. Visit or call (877) AMC-7117 for more information.

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