Ep. 42 - 6 Things You Must Do to Be Successful in Nature-Based Pediatric Practice
Laura Park Figueroa: Welcome to Therapy in the Great Outdoors, the podcast where we explore the business and practice of nature based pediatric therapy of all kinds. If you're an outdoor loving pediatric practitioner in the fields of occupational, physical, or speech therapy, social work, or mental health, this podcast will help you start and grow a successful nature based practice or program.
I am the ever honest, always 100 percent real. You'll hear it all on this podcast. Dr. Laura. I'm a pediatric OT with over 20 years of experience, and I run a thriving nature based practice with profitable locations in two different states and multi six figures in revenue. I also host the free online community at therapyinthegreatoutdoors.
com to help you pursue your nature based therapy dreams too. Are you ready to take action on those dreams? Let's jump in.
Hi, everyone. This episode is going to help you be successful in your nature-based therapy practice and your work with children. Because I just read this book the long game, how to be a long-term thinker in a short-term world by Dorie Clark. She is a business expert. And she's written a lot of books.
This one was so helpful to me. You'll hear a little bit about why and what I'm going to share. But as I was reading it, I could not stop thinking about. How so much of what I was reading in the book related to nature based therapists and getting started and growing nature-based practices. So I think this is really going to help all of you, no matter what stage of nature-based practice you are in, whether you're just thinking about it and you're interested in it, or if you've been doing it for many years now, So let's dive right in.
I have lots of little things tabbed now. But the first thing I want to do is read. The quote. To you that I literally put a post-it on that says read on podcast because I wanted to share it with you all.
I just think it is so valuable.
If it were easy to be patient and easy to do the work, then everyone would do it. What I've come to love about patience is that ultimately it's the truest test of merit. Are you willing to do the work despite no guaranteed outcome? We earn our success by toiling, without recognition, accolades, or even any certainty that it's going to come to fruition. We have to take it on faith and do it anyway.
That's strategic patience. You have to surround yourself with people you admire and trust and learn from their example. I say this a lot. Y'all have heard me say this. If you listen to the podcast. You have to study, what's worked before and what you wish to emulate and then determine where you want to do something different and you have to be willing.
And so many aren't to make choices, to recognize that saying yes to one thing, inevitably means saying no to something else. You have to weigh those consequences, put your chips on the table, trying to do it all means nothing of substance will ever get done. But the power of consciously choosing how we're going to spend our time.
And therefore our lives is monumental. You have to place your bets, make your move and wait. So I've become okay with patience. I, this really resonated with me mostly because I have, in the past year or so, I started the therapy in the great outdoors business, how I've been running my nature based practice for eight years now.
So this business where I do online work to support therapists is really a second business that I was running, under the hub of my private practice for a long time. And so getting a new business up and started has been challenging, and I've wanted to quit a lot of times to be honest. But I think this idea of strategic patience is very important for us all to think about as we start Pursuing dreams that we have.
I'm going to talk a little more about dreams in a bit. So there are. 1, 2, 3, I have six takeaways from this book that I want to talk to you about in how to make your nature-based practice successful. That first quote is showing us that it's for the long haul, right? It's a long game. It's not a short, quick win kind of thing.
There are quick wins along the way. But you really have to be committed and willing to do the work in order to make a nature-based practice successful. The first of the six lessons that I learned from this book were that you need to set high goals. Okay. Dorie calls this go to extreme. So set these really extreme high goals.
She says ridiculous goals are only ridiculous right now. And i, she speaks a lot in the book about the potential of these very high and lofty goals, like big dreams that we have to be very motivating to us. The word she used was galvanizing. I love that word. It's just such a great word to describe how it really like. Gives us that resolve to go after something.
And I think a lot of times we limit ourselves really as humans and as people and as therapist or potential future business owners, we limit ourselves and what we're capable of. And I think this is a really good point to think of the huge motivational power that it gives you. And it galvanizes you to really go for something when there is an extreme goal, like a high goal that you've set for yourself. So it's funny because I used to say I had, I don't know if everyone knows this, but I used to have an old podcast called mind your OT business.
It was all about OT entrepreneurship, but as I shifted to nature-based therapist, I wanted to expand the love to. Other professionals as well. And so I ended that podcast. It's still available if you want. To learn from me about business. There's still 75 episodes up at mind your OT business on any podcast player, but in that old podcast, I used to say all the time, the way I ended the podcast every single week was. Small steps make great gains over time.
So until next time, mind your OT business. That was like my ending sign-off right. And. That is the point that Dorie Clark is making in this specific portion of the book where she says to set these lofty goals, because she's saying set a goal for five or 10 years from now, and then those small little steps you take over time are going to make great gains in getting you towards that very motivating, lofty, extreme goal that you have.
I want you to think about what is that lofty goal that you have some up for some of you, it might be just to start a nature-based practice for others of you. It might be that you have a successful practice and you want to grow it to Over 300 grand a year over 600 grand a year over a million a year.
Like maybe you have these lofty goals of what you want to do in your practice. Maybe you want to start a nonprofit. It's not always just about profit. I know for therapist, it's not always just about the money. They really want to give back to the world. And think about what that lofty goal is and what is one small step that you could take right now towards that long-term goal that you have in your nature-based practice?
Okay. That's number one, set. High goals, go to extremes as Dorie Clark would say. So the second takeaway I had from this book was that sticktuitiveness is necessary. Even when you don't immediately feel successful. So she talks a lot in this book about overnight success is like not actually a thing.
A lot of times when we think someone is overnight successful, it really is 5, 10, 20 years in the making that they have spent. Taking those small steps over time to get to that point where they appear like they were an overnight success. I really think we need to. Keep going, even when things are really hard, when it seems like. No one's showing up.
So a lot of times when the, a good example of this is when you first start your nature based practice, right? Maybe you have just started to share a blog post, or maybe you've just started to share things to your email list, or maybe you've just started to share. Post on Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn or other places where you may be marketing your business to people.
And you're getting almost no one seeing things.
But if you don't persevere through that period of time, you never know if you're going to get more eyeballs on your stuff and you never know if your business is going to grow. We really have to keep going, even when it seems like no one is listening, no one is seeing what you're doing. When people doubt you, I know in the beginning of my nature based practice, I had a lot of naysayers telling me like, oh, running a business.
Oh, wow. That's brave. Like this, this like doubtful kind of tone that they were bringing to a conversation with me and. I think we have to really stick with it through those hard times. A lot of times we give up too quickly on things. I thought about. Closing the therapy in the great outdoors business this year, because it's a brand new business.
I just started it a year ago. Essentially. I'd been doing some of the work to support therapists underneath the umbrella of my nature-based practice. And just last year I split it out as its own business. So I'm running my nature based practice now. Outdoor kids OT. And I'm also running therapy in the great outdoors, which is my online business, serving you all the nature-based therapist, who I'm assuming would be the ones watching this video or listening to the podcast.
But I know I haven't been at it long enough. I know. I just have not given the TGO business long enough to really be profitable and be successful and have systems in place and all of that. I am sticking with it mostly because I love y'all. But I really. know that I need to do more work and be more committed to make it a sustainable business over time.
Okay. So number one was set high goals. Number two was stick to it. Number three is growth is usually exponential, not linear. So this was a huge concept for me in the book. One one of the things I think it goes along with what I was just relaying about how overnight success is not really a thing it's it often takes small steps over time to be that quote unquote overnight success.
But. This idea of exponential growth and growth, not being linear. So growth is not like one step, another step. And then you just go over time. Growth is like all these layers as a business owner. All these layers of things that you are putting down over time, actually snowball over time to have a much wider reach than they would.
I feel like I'm not explaining it but. Things multiply over time versus just being added to one another, I think is what the point is here. So there is a really great one more quote that I want to read to you from the book. It is from an Aikido master George Leonard. He said in the land of the quick fix. It may seem radical. But to learn anything significant to make any lasting change in yourself, you must be willing to spend most of your time on the plateau. To keep practicing, even when it seems you are getting nowhere. Okay.
I don't mean this episode to be like extremely depressing, but it's true that a lot of times in business, and especially when you're getting something started. You will feel like you're going no where you'll feel like you're treading water. And those are the times when you really need to stick with it. And remember that growth is exponential, not linear.
So in the future, all of these things that you're doing right now, we're going to snowball into a bigger effect than they would have had. Otherwise, okay. Number one set high goals. Number two, stick to it. Number three, growth is exponential. Number four. Remember your why? So this is something that we hear a lot in the therapy space, to be honest, it's remember your, why?
Think about your mission, all of that, but. There were two questions that Dorie posed in the book that were, who do you want to be in the world and who are you helping? And when you think about those things, It helps you in those moments when you want to quit and when you want to give up.
And so I think that is really important to do. And one thing I thought about just encouraging you all to do is to write that down. Write down who you want to be in the world. Who do you want to show up as for your people? And then also write down who you're helping. Like, why do you do what you do and your work?
And that's going to help pull you through those hard times, give you an anchor and put that piece of paper that you wrote it down on, where you can see it every day, so that it just reminds you constantly of why you do what you do. Okay. Number one, set high goals. Number two, stick to it. Number three.
Growth is exponential. Number four. Remember your why? Number five is learn from role models. So she speaks a lot in this book about. Do you actually know what it takes to succeed? That's a quote from page 1 68. She like it's italicized. Do you actually know what it takes to succeed? So she recommends that you deeply study others.
Who've done what you want to do. And I would add, make sure they've actually done what you want to do. Okay. I think a lot of times it is easy to get caught up in social media to get caught up in. What we observe publicly of people, but we don't actually know if their practice is successful or profitable or. Going to succeed for the longterm.
So I would recommend that if you are learning from role models, if there are people who have done what you want to do in your nature based work. Make sure that you're doing the research to know that they actually have done what it appears they have done, . If you're just looking at social media, that may not be a good metric, I want you to really. Learn from people who are being transparent and have shared that they have actually had success in the long haul.
This book is talking about over time. In their nature based work with children's. So there's a story. There's a story on page 1 69 that I want to read to you all because it's hilarious. So David Berkus is a speaker and author, and he interviewed Daniel pink on his podcast. And they were chatting.
And David mentioned his frustration that his career wasn't advancing as fast as he'd like. And as David says, Daniel pink paused for a pretty long beat. And then he goes "you've got to remember, you've been doing this for three years and I've been doing it for 20. So anything I tell you probably won't work for you because you really need to just give yourself more time." So that, and then it goes on to say that it felt the answer felt frustrating, but it, he came to realize that it was true that really. You have to give any effort you make towards an extreme. High and lofty goal.
You have to give it a good amount of time. You've got to stay on that plateau. The George Leonard quote. I just read. Even when it feels like there's not this like upward swing of progress. So sticking with it. Learning from role models. And the key here in this story is to understand the timeline for the success of the people that are your role models.
A lot of times, again, we think that people just came by this so easily, but really success is built over a lot of trial and error and hard work and strategic thinking and planning and redoing systems. And. Lots of things on the backend, developing expertise over time, like learning and growing and the experience that a person has.
So there's something to be said for really studying the people that have done what you want to do in nature based practice. And. Looking at their timeline, like. How long did it take them to make their business make a million dollars or whatever it is now, I don't really know of any nature based practice does make it a million dollars.
So if that's you, then please reach out to me because I want to interview you on this podcast and hear about all your strategies and tips, but. But my practice is making 300 grand a year, and that is down from previous years because again the therapy in the great outdoors business, all my coaching and consulting and stuff was going through outdoor kids OT.
So I know now that my nature based practice. Is generating a little over 300 grand a year. Now this is our eighth year in business, and I also was doing a PhD for five of those years. So I wasn't full on trying to grow the practice. But that gives you an idea that gives you an idea of like here's what it took.
And if you talk to me about that, I actually am planning to do an episode about how to grow a practice to over well, to start with, to over a hundred K and to pay yourself a hundred K is ideally what my goal is. I thought I was going to hit it this year, but I might not. So anyway the idea is that you want to understand the timeline of the people that you are looking up to, to mentor you and to know, to really try to understand what it takes to be successful requires that you study people who have done what you want to do before you and don't anticipate that it's going to take you only a week.
If it took them four months or whatever, or, it's only going to take you a year. If it took them eight years, whatever that is. Okay. So my point is. A lot of people dream about nature based practice, but far fewer actually do it and actually start to do the work. And so I want you to really put yourself around the people that will help you do this work.
So you can learn from people who can be your role models. Okay. No matter what stage of practice you're in. If you're brand new, you might be really looking to role models that are different than someone who is really trying to grow their practice to 300, 500,000 a year or something like that. Okay. One set high goals to stick to it.
Three growth is exponential four. Remember your why five learn from role models. Six, the last one. Is to not underestimate the amount of work it will take. Okay. So this is segway and you can see how she. Framed the book so beautifully, because these are in the sequence that they were throughout the book they're there. There's a lot more in the book, but these were just my takeaways.
But but you can see how this relates to what I was just saying. You need to make the effort to understand what success actually looks like and what it actually requires from you as a nature-based therapist. Okay, one more story. I want to read you from the book or kind of tell you, I'm not going to read this one directly, but. This was a really great they talked about. Jeff.
So Jeff Bezos told a story in an Amazon letter to his shareholders. And he said that the, a friend of his wanted to learn how to do a perfect free standing handstand . Okay. And so she hired a coach to help her. And Bezos. Is recounting what the coach told her here. This is on page 1 96 in the book.
Most people think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about guess how long y'all guess how long. I just think right now in your head, I want you to think right now in your head. How long you think it takes to master a freestanding handstand.
Okay. How long do you think it would take. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you're just going to end up quitting. So it was this great story about how we need to really make the effort to understand what success looks like.
She says we can make ourselves Dorie. Clark says we can make ourselves smarter and more resilient. If from the outset, we truly make the effort to understand what success looks like. How have other people done it? What does it require in general? Okay. So I thought that was like a really interesting story and a good thing to remember that developing expertise takes. Time.
And I have said it before. I will say it again. I will say it till I die. Nature based therapy is an expertise. It is a specific expertise that takes time to develop, to understand how to skillfully weave nature into a therapy session with children and to facilitate an effective therapy session, outdoors with kids or with families or with groups of kids.
Like it, it takes a high level of expertise to be able to do that. And I am all for nature-based therapy, becoming elevated as a, an expertise, like a skilled area of practice within all of our professions, whether you're PT, OT, speech. Mental health, recreational therapist. I don't care what you are.
If you work with kids with special needs outdoors, and you're listening to this podcast, I know. That you are an expert when you start to develop these skills in facilitating therapy outdoors. So this is What I want is for us to become recognized experts. That's actually the name of Dorie Clark's.
She has like a business coaching program. That she runs and. So anyway, she. I'm going to close with this quote, and then I have one more thing to say. She says becoming, this is page 2 0 3, becoming an ex recognized expert in your field or achieving success of any kind. Isn't a fast process. As we've seen throughout the book, it takes huge amounts of time and effort. And a more emotional fortitude to withstand the inevitable setbacks.
We can't keep it up. If everything in our lives feels like an eternal slog, we have to find a way to tap into the magic. We have to show ourselves how far we've already come, so that we can see the rest of the journey is possible. And that my friends is exactly why I run the therapy in the great outdoors business.
Like the whole point everything I do in this business is for you all to tap into the magic of nature based therapy, work with kids. So we have our free community in the therapy and the great outdoors. Community where you can, our free discussion area, where you can learn from other therapists, ask any questions. We also have supporting memberships where you get access to calls with me and once a month, and you get access to a bunch of other resources. I have my nature based therapy certification and mentoring program.
It's called the Contigo approach that exists to support you in your nature based work with kids. And I also have a business coaching program called the business hive in which I teach my business bedrocks curriculum. And do business coaching. So from start to finish, I got you covered. Y'all. But that's the whole point is to help you tap into the magic. Of nature-based therapy and to not feel alone in the process.
Okay. So I want you to be successful in this work, but the you've heard throughout this podcast, throughout the lessons from Dorie's book that. It's not easy and it's not something that should be easy. Like good things. Take time. Good things in life. Like things that are worth doing often take time and energy. And require us to stick to them even when they're hard.
So that's it. Let's go through them one last time, stick them in your brain. One set high goals to stick to it. Three growth is exponential for remember your why five learn from role models and six do not underestimate the amount of work that it will take. Make the effort y'all. I would love to hear from you if this episode was helpful or encouraging to you, I hope it encouraged you to do the hard work and that it's worth it to do nature based therapy.
Cause I totally think it is. I would love to hear from you inside of the therapy, in the great outdoors community. You can always reach out to me there by making a post or DM me, and I'll see you next time. Bye.
Thanks for joining me today for therapy in the great outdoors. If you want valuable advice, as you start or grow your nature based pediatric practice, get my free ebook, the nature based practice roadmap. It is a guide to help you focus and avoid. Mistakes as you start or grow your outdoor work with children in it.
I share the four stages of nature-based practice, what you need to focus on and common mistakes to avoid in each stage. Plus a checklist of specific action steps for you to take at each stage in the process. Get it at Therapy in the great outdoors.com/. roadmap. So until next time, get outside, connect, reflect, and enjoy therapy in the great outdoors.