Monday, November 10, 2014

What Are You Building?


As a veterinary practice owner I see the world a bit askew. I am a private practitioner who is dedicated to helping pets and their families, but because I am also responsible for providing a future for my staff and my business I view each and every decision as both maintaining and supporting our collective mission of helping AND economical for our long term growth and viability.

Growing a healthy business is much like raising a child. The task of a practice owner is to prepare your business kid to stand on it's own legs and live on without you. There are long term goals that you have to be planning and preparing for and a whole lot of bumps and obstacles you will meet along the way. You can try to instill a sense of your values and vision but you must be prepared to intervene and take charge at every step along the way. If you ignore your responsibility, or neglect to nurture the minute and monumental needs, you and your baby will suffer for it in the long term.

At some point you also learn that things run better if you have a tiny bit of emotional detachment while you make decisions that may be unpopular. For a female invested in a business whose whole  purpose is to care for others this is a tough lesson to learn. There has to be some zone of detachment. You cannot be the friend, the mentor, the boss and the proprietor when you are trying to meet and deliver every need and want of every being in the mix. You simply can't. You can try, and you can do your best, but ultimately your businesses viability in many cases will require to to put a poker face on and be a hard ass. If you fail to make hard decisions, fail to deal with conflict, fail to provide a clear and consistent vision for a long term success, you will be undermined and fail, perhaps in tiny fragments over years, but the end result will be the same.

I often reflect on how my leadership abilities result in the unforeseen consequences that arise.

Here's what I have learned;

You are responsible for the business that you build, and are a part of.  I, just like all of my associates and staff, can either help foster and grow us, or we can undermine our own permanence. We are all responsible for the business we build. Theft, gossip, bullying, rudeness, cruelty, and mistakes cost us all.

I say it over and over again, without this there is empty wasted time and space. Life is to short for that.

Be the model that you want others to reflect; Scrutinize the message you are portraying. Don't apologize if your life's passion is not someone else's. Either grow together because you have diversity in your viewpoints or move on. The little voices of dismay in your gut will become a chorus of angst if you dismiss it. Make hard  decisions to better your and your staffs quality of life, and move on ahead. Don't take it personally. You can be different people but you have to steer your ship in a unified direction.

Nurture a place that reflects your mission and purpose. If you ask for something listen to your mothers voice in your head and end each statement with a "Thank-You." Every good deed and every exemplary effort should be met with an accolade. Your team will never be paid what they are worth, therefore, the value of their time needs to be supplemented with a reminder of the reason they stay with you. They make you and your practice better than the next guys down the street, (who, by the way, might need to pay more because he is an ogre to his staff).

Shed the craziness: If it makes you crazy, or if it appears to be going looney-tunes in spite of your best efforts to contain it, let it go. Encourage and seek help for those on the fringe of their emotional and/or financial stability and move on. You can remain a friend and a support system but you cannot tie your future to the anyone's dilemma, disease, or demise. A leave of absence is often a chance for everyone to regroup and re-analyze the situation. Over the years I have had to intervene and challenge staff to seek resources outside of my business oversight and jeopardize infringing on the privacy of others. At these  times I have to ask myself the same questions that I ask when a desperately needy pet walks in without the funds or foundation to care for them.
"What might happen if I don't care? Or, don't intervene? Can I live with that?"

Remember your path;
It is important to know who you are, where you came from, who you wanted to be, and who you are becoming. This isn't a dress rehearsal and regret and shame are voices that you only suppress with excuses that other people can see through. Life will keep you humble or it will remind you that you are alone.

My goal is always the same. I have to care. I just have to care about more things, more beings, and I have to view it as a collective whole where each piece intertwines and is interdependent on each other. It is the goal of maintaining the whole organism while we understand what each piece contributes to it. Losing an appendage or limb to save the greater good is a hard decision but you can't die waiting for the limb to decide whether or  not it will ever help you ambulate again.

What am I building? On every step and scale I am building a place of people who have a purpose. There will never be a time where you don't find a kitten/cat/puppy/dog in need under our roof. This place is a reflection of our  purpose to help those who need us. There is no purpose that can be sustained on purely profit or without heart and integrity.

We are all a reflection of our mission. We say "hello," we smile, and we genuinely live to perpetuate healthy life.
Annie is a six month old Black Mouth Cur.
She is an energetic, happy, people centered pup.
She is bred to herd cows, or lead people by the hand.
She's charming and endearing,
 I loved her at the first inquisitive romp and stare.

Life is a series of small steps to an end. You can choose to look up, smile, be grateful and contribute, or you can choose to chase a figment of what you think you need to be someone else's definition

There will be an end. You can't take the dollars with you, and all you will be is a reflection of a purpose with or without meaningful intent. It's all your choice.

If you have a pet centered purpose, or a pet centered heart, please join us at Pawbly is an open online platform dedicated to promoting a safe, credible place to share and exchange pet information. Pawbly is free to use and open to everyone who wants to help pets and their people.

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter @FreePetAdvice and at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, in Jarrettsville, MD.


  1. Hi Krista - more incredibly wise words and I think they're just as valid whether you're a leader in a veterinary practice or another type of business. My favourite line is "On every step and scale I am building a place of people who have a purpose." as I believe this should be the mantra of every leader. I'll be sharing this post as much as possible this week :)

    1. Hello!
      Thanks for reading and for sharing... but most of all thanks for helping enlighten and motivate all of us dedicated to helping pets..

  2. I never realized that you had to be detached as a vet, but I guess that makes sense as it would be very difficult to have to put down animals etc. when the situation calls for it. You make interesting points here about being able to make hard decisions, I never would have considered them. I appreciate your transparency, I agree that genuineness is so important in the veterinary field.
    Mark Leach |