Aiming to achieve outstanding results - Veterinary Practice
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Aiming to achieve outstanding results

CHRIS WHIPP discusses a simple model that can ease the way to achieving outstanding results – by overcoming the various barriers to change processes and not making excuses

ACHIEVING outstanding results doesn’t sound that difficult, isn’t it really just about deciding what you want and getting on with it?

In reality it is much more difficult as a range of both real and imagined barriers seem to jump in front of us as soon as we start.

In this article we present a simple model that can ease the way, whether it is you or another member of staff who needs to make progress.


It may seem silly to say that we need to be aware of the problem before we can design a solution but awareness is a funny thing. Our brains are, essentially, an eliminative organ.

Its inputs are more than we could ever process and so we have a complex system of checks and balances to control what comes into our sphere of awareness and, equally importantly, how we deal with it.

In simple terms we might define three categories:

  1. those that we have little/no control over such as many of our internal organ system functions;
  2. those that we are consciously aware of including our conscious thoughts and actions;
  3. those that occur automatically or semi-automatically and which we might influence if we choose to do so.

Being more aware and working to focus that awareness on the things that matter most is the first step towards better outcomes. Modern life bombards us with inputs and most of us react by ignoring either consciously or subconsciously much of what is going on around us.

When you combine this with the fact that we are wired to notice negative things in preference to positive things, it is no surprise that life and business is such a stressful thing. Fortunately, this can be reversed and, with practice, we can become more aware, less sensitive to the negative and this opens us to the opportunities that are out there but being ignored by everybody else!


Taking responsibility for the situation is the second and equally important step. If you do not, then who will? It may seem obvious but how often have you walked on by, determined that “someone” should do something.

Our survival instincts often encourage us against action for what it presents as very logical reasons linked to survival instincts:

  • we’re already busy, to do more is to risk overload and stress;
  • to do things differently increases uncertainty about the future and increases risk;
  • you might do something wrong or fail, this will attack your self-esteem and may challenge your status in the practice;
  • you might be criticised or blamed for the outcome with your very sense of self being challenged;
  • you might be seen to be unfair, one of the key social drivers for the brain.

The list can go on and on all day and they are great reasons to procrastinate or do nothing at all but as the famous quote says, “Changing yourself may be very difficult but changing somebody else is virtually impossible”, and as long as you are properly aware of the situation procrastination is probably not a good option if you want to get the results you want.


Making the actual commitment to “do something” is, of course critical. Without it, nothing will change; with it, something will change and how good the outcome is up to you.

It is also important to consider the quality of the commitment. Often, in business, I meet with clients who want great results, present huge enthusiasm and then take no action. Usually, the same internal barriers described above are at play and if you do not address them now then you might as well not start.

Language is really important here: is the person quiet, confident and clearly taking responsibility for the situation or are they using words like “try”, “attempt”, “hope”, etc.

Making a public commitment makes a huge difference to potential success, use it to place a line in the sand, to silence your own internal gremlins and to garner support from your practice staff and wider social support structures.

Two of the biggest gremlins to challenge are the “We don’t have the time” and “We don’t have the money”. Both are excuses for inaction that have become socially acceptable in the current economic market. By challenging them head on, better projects and outcomes are achieved.


Often, action is seen as the most difficult part of the process but the opposite should be true. If you have “SMART”ly identified the outcomes you want, made yourself aware of the REAL situation, taken responsibility for moving things forward and made a commitment to a successful outcome, then the action bit becomes the fun bit.

Of course, your internal gremlins may still be whispering in your ear and your carefully crafted plan is unlikely to remain in its pristine state beyond the first day but, by following the process, you are prepared, capable and confident enough to duck and weave your way to success.


I have shown the results as the final step in the process but of course it is also the first. The very first step in the process is to carefully and clearly define the results you wish to achieve.

Many businesses bypass this step and rush to action but how can you define whether you have reached your destination if you haven’t even decided where you want to go in the first place? Clearly defining the outcomes is essential because that clear vision will push you in the direction you need to go.

Many of the barriers to change processes are internal barriers within the participants and even the person whose idea it was. A good process often means working with someone to develop approaches and this simple model could be applied equally well to any business challenge.

Lastly, it should be mentioned that in addition to achieving the desired results, this model also nurtures the development of Response Ability and Capabilities which can then be used into the future, making other changes much easier.

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