“Inhibitions Starve History”

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The above is a favorite statement of B.J.’s.  People do not reach their potential and hence the advancement of human history is thwarted as a result of inhibitions.  Unfortunately, we tend to think about getting rid of our inhibitions as shedding our conservative, society-acceptable attitude and acting in a wild outlandish manner.  Surely, we have seen our share of those people in our profession.  While B.J. may have been guilty of doing some outlandish things and is perhaps the best example, we should keep in mind that these things were not done for exhibitionism purposes but to shed inhibitions.  There is a great difference.  The greatest inhibition in chiropractic is fear.  We fear offending people with our message.  We fear rejection.  We fear confrontation.  We fear seeming to be unprofessional, whatever professional might be and it is usually the standard set by the doctors and the lawyers.  Let me give you an example of how uninhibited chiropractors changed history even among doctors and lawyers.  In the mid-sixties when I began to practice, it was illegal for chiropractors to advertise.  Medical doctors and lawyers did not do it.  I do not know whether it was illegal for them to do it or that they just thought it was unprofessional.  In that era, a group of uninhibited chiropractors decided to challenge the laws (laws incidentally which were created by inhibited chiropractors).  They challenged these laws not for self but for the sake of humanity who needed to hear the message.  One by one the state laws fell as the issue of freedom of speech was put forth.  Today not only do chiropractors have the freedom to advertise and assert their freedom but medical doctors, hospitals and lawyers all advertise as well.  Uninhibited chiropractors blazed the way for advertising by all professionals.  (Judging from the ads of some chiropractors, lawyers and physicians, it is questionable whether we created a good thing.  But in the long run, the poor exercise of one’s freedom is better than no freedom at all.)  Today no one gives it a second thought, although I wonder how the first lawyer or medical doctor to advertise was received by his association.

Getting rid of our fear inhibitions, which is really what B.J. was talking about is an important idea in business and industry today.  Companies do rope courses and other activities to get rid of their employee’s fear inhibition so they can be a better salesperson or executive.  Chiropractors do firewalks to get rid of their fears and other inhibitions (although frankly, I can think of better ways to do it).  B.J. saw that if people got over their inhibitions they would be more aggressive, more forceful, and more effective in promoting this new idea called chiropractic.

Let me give you one more historical example from recent chiropractic history.  Standing up in front of people and speaking is one of the greatest fears that human beings have.  In fact, in some surveys people rank it ahead of death.  One of the greatest practice-building tools of the late sixties and early seventies was the lay lecture.  Chiropractors were told by people like Reggie and Sid and Jim Sigafoose that to be successful, you had to give them.  From my personal experience, I would say they were right…the lay lecture is a great educational tool and will surely help to build a successful practice.  But I am also convinced that its ability to enable a chiropractor to get rid of the inhibitions that surround chiropractic and cause chiropractors to starve, was as big a factor as anything.  To give lay lectures takes a command of and a confidence in your subject.  You never know what questions will be asked.  That builds confidence in chiropractic and yourself, and confidence dissipates fear.  Lay lectures overcome the fear of confrontation.  That is what a lay lecture is, confronting the audience with a new and radical idea that they have probably never thought about.  It overcomes the fear of rejection.  In any size audience you can be sure that some will reject your message.  Giving lay lectures built a generation of fearless, aggressive chiropractors who had no reservations about the world’s need for chiropractic.  The lay lecture was a big part of destroying the fear inhibition.  If you were brave enough to lay out the philosophy to 15-25 strangers, it took less courage to give it to one on the street.  If you could say something face to face, it was easier to say it in print and in the media.  Lay lectures continue to be perhaps the most powerful fear-busting tool.  Anyone with willingness or lack of common sense can walk across hot coals.  However, to stand up in front of a group of strangers week after week takes courage and courage was what built this profession.

It is possible that some of the problem with our profession and its growth is that we do not have fearless chiropractors anymore.  We are inhibited by society and by the fact that we are generally accepted as back doctors.  If we rock the boat by maintaining that chiropractic is not about your back but about your life, we may jeopardize the fragile truce between us and the medical profession.  We are going to shake up society by saying things like everyone needs chiropractic care on a regular basis and children should be adjusted from birth.  The exact things you say in a lay lecture.  If your practice is not going like you would want it to, perhaps you need more courage, more zeal, more enthusiasm, and more aggressiveness.  You can begin to give lay lectures and acquire all these traits.  Or you can take the easy, less effective way out and walk across a bed of hot coals. v17n1

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