By Angela Wilson Pennisi, PT, MS, OCS
Have you spent the last few years feeling like the deck is stacked against you in this post-Affordable Care Act era? As a parent of teenagers, I am always surprised by the correlations to be found between parenting and managing my clinic. Both of my sons have played tennis casually since they were children. When my older son started high school last year, joining the tennis team seemed like a natural fit. In preparation, he had begun playing more frequently and participated in some group lessons over the winter. He had a fun season this past spring and learned a lot.
This summer, his coach suggested an advanced training camp, hosted by our local university. With the popularity of competitive sports for children, I am sure many of you can relate to the premium prices these camps command. I signed him up, including a little lecture on how he needed to set aside lots of time to practice over the summer to make it worthwhile.
The first day of camp arrived, but instead of my son coming home to tell me how much he had learned and how excited he was, he was texting me to tell me how it was overcrowded and that he was playing with elementary school children. He was so unhappy that he asked me to talk to the camp director and ask for a refund. Remembering the waiver signed at registration, I knew the likelihood of obtaining a refund was slim, but I contacted the camp to let them know my son was not having a good experience and was not placed in an age-appropriate group.
The camp director called me that evening to follow up and essentially admitted that he had not realized that my son (height, 5’0″) was 15 years old. He was vague about my son’s skill level, but said that he would try him in the advanced group the next day. Taking advantage of this parenting moment, I let my son know the outcome and that he had better have a good night’s sleep and arrive at camp the next day with a fire in his belly to demonstrate that he belonged in the advanced group.
Happily, he was thrilled with his experience the next day and said that he had so much fun, he could not stop thinking about tennis after the camp was over for the day. He chastised me for suggesting he might not be up to the demands of the advanced group and told me how nervous he had been that morning. However, in the end the little guy held his own, surprised those who had underestimated him (including me!), and experienced success.
Is your practice the underdog in your community? Are your competitors underestimating you? Are you underestimating yourself? Can you take advantage of the element of surprise to finish with a strong fourth quarter and use the fire in your belly to prepare for your best year ever in 2015? Just like my son’s tennis game—you have the fundamental skills and preparation. How can you leverage them to compete with the big boys?