'Game Plan' for Practice Success Mirrors Everyday Life

October 27, 2014

According to legendary football coach Lou Holtz, the keys to success in life and as a healthcare professional include having a good attitude, having passion, and making good choices.

Outside of his wife's career as an X-ray technician and a series of recent surgeries, Lou Holtz admitted to the attendees of the 2014 Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Annual Conference, that when it comes to healthcare, his knowledge is limited.

In fact, Holtz, the legendary football coach of Notre Dame and a series of other collegiate programs and the author of several bestselling books, claimed to be "a very simple individual" who has "written more books than I've read." So rather than regale the audience about his life in football or attempt to make sense of today's healthcare environment, Holtz instead met the audience in the middle to discuss the topic of leadership based on his own life experiences to open the MGMA14 Conference.

Utilizing a timeline starting at his days growing up in Ohio up to his current role as a broadcaster for ESPN, Holtz delivered the message of succeeding in life and in medicine around a simple five-point plan. The first point of the plan revolves around "the attitude you chose," said Holtz. From his wife's battle with cancer to his 0-11 record during his first season coaching at the University of South Carolina, Holtz preached that "attitude is the most important thing in the world," especially when you're down.

"You can stay down or pick yourself up," he said. "You are going to get knocked down, but are you going to stay down?"

That willingness to rise carried Holtz's second point: having a passion to succeed. That requires sacrifice, or "the price you pay," as the former coach dubbed it, as well as getting rid of the excuses of why you can't succeed. "Forget about Obamacare," he urged the audience in looking for any and all obstacles as to why their medical practices cannot survive and thrive.

That requires the third goal: making sure you focus.

"You have two mandates: to satisfy patients and make a profit," said Holtz.  "That’s common sense."

To get there, you are going to have to work with other people and make things work together, he said. He urged those at the conference to play their part, overcome the hard challenges by working harder together, and to not let the other members of their teams down by failing to either playing their part or give it their all.

Holtz's fourth point was to "make sure you are growing and not dying," made through four things every person needs in life: something to do; someone to love; someone to believe in; and, most importantly, he said, something to hope for.

"Don't go through life being a spectator," Holtz urged. "Look at your goals and ask what it will take to win. Ask what's important now [WIN]."

The fifth and last part of the plan revolved around making good choices, whether in your personal life or as a healthcare business. To drive this point home, Holtz discussed the three rules he lives his life by: do what's right; do everything to the best of your ability; and show people you care.

He discussed the only media interview his wife has done, about her battle with cancer, and her response to the interviewer's question about what having cancer had taught her.

"She said it was how much her family loved her," said Holtz. "We showed her more [during her battle]. Why do we wait for moments of catastrophe to tell other people how much we care and how much they mean to us? We should do that more."