Life is filled with challenges, setbacks, patients that don’t improve and clients who walk away unsatisfied. We suffer injuries or illnesses that keep us from our patients, we suffer financial hardship and we are faced continually with questions and scenarios for which we don’t know the answers.

It is easy to look at your mentor or a leader in the industry and think, ‘So-and-so has it all together. They have the answers, and they deal with challenges in such a way that you can’t even tell there is a challenge!’ But the truth is, what we see is only the surface. We see 10% of the iceberg that is above the water, and we miss the 90% that is sitting beneath the surface, out of sight. That is where people carry their burdens and weariness, their fears and insecurities – all of which are quite normal to experience! We are aware of our own, and forget that others – no matter how confident they appear – have theirs.

We perceive everything around us in this way. We’re conscious only of the visible and fail to factor in everything that is hidden from view.

Think about the unseen 90% that makes up the success of anyone you admire:

  • The days, months and years of practice
  • The hours of lectures watched, prepared and presented
  • The years of treating patients
  • The perseverance through hard times
  • The failures
  • The patients lost
  • The clients unsatisfied
  • The lack of having an answer
  • The refusal to give up on a patient
  • The hours spent consulting with colleagues and searching through textbooks for an answer
  • The changes to their practice to ensure no client leaves unsatisfied again
  • Hours spent with a business coach to improve their product and service
  • Hours spent with a physical therapist to help solve their aches and pains that come with the job
  • Hours spent with a psychiatrist when the emotional toll becomes too much
  • Never giving up!

A few good principles may help us when our confidence wanes:

Don’t compare yourself

Remember that whenever you look at someone, all you’re seeing is the 10% above the surface. There is 90% ice under the surface, where hardship, perseverance, past mistakes, difficult decisions, grit, and hard work have been frozen over time, into a foundation that allows them to be successful.

Choose your perspective

Every hardship you face can become a part of your unseen 90%. If you choose to persevere, practice, seek answers, never stop learning, stand up when you fail, and ‘do better next time’, you can rest assured that you are creating an iceberg every step of the way – with a magnificent 10% above the surface.

Freeze your ice

Choose to work those hardships and challenges into the 90% and make them work for you. In effect, freeze them. Use them to establish good and better habits. Use them as the stepping stones to lift yourself higher.

Despite what you feel at times, you’re not alone. We all struggle with what life throws at us. What matters is the small daily decisions we make to keep trying, to maintain a positive spirit, to keep learning and to remain committed to the journey we started. Look forward, not backward! Make the decision to see yourself as you intend to be, not as who you once were.  

Never undermine the value of that 90% where the hard work and daily decisions are made. It’s hidden, but it’s crucial. That is how we steadily, deliberately create a life and a practice that will bring us joy.

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