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Massage Today
January, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 01

What Does Success Mean to You?

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

I recently celebrated an anniversary. In November 1979, I had my first professional massage in Lisbon, Portugal. That experience was the beginning of a cascading series of events. I've been fascinated by and enjoying the myriad benefits of massage therapy for the past 26 years, and I wish I had started sooner.

For the past 14 years, I've been pursuing massage therapy as a career choice, as well as hopping on as many tables as I can. My practice is a good one and has been flourishing almost from the start, so I think I'm pretty credible in conversing with others about success.

I'm in the middle of preparing to moderate a panel discussion on "Success Strategies for Massage Therapists." Members of the panel are all people whom I consider extremely successful and should have much to share with the audience. I'm excited about the panel and hope the massage therapists in attendance get a lot of thought-provoking material to ponder in their own quests for success. In my preparatory research, I've uncovered several things worth sharing.

I like beginning projects with defining the parts, so in dealing with success strategies, I begin with baseline meanings. Success in a business, a relationship or a life is an extremely personal thing. We all have our own yardsticks with which to measure it. For generalities, though, I use a trusty dictionary. Success is defined as the achievement of something planned or attempted. This tells me success is the result of an action or series of actions. Strategy is defined as a plan, method or series of maneuvers for obtaining a specific goal or result. Thus, strategies are the roadmaps that get us to the success result. The defined antonym of success is failure.

For the purposes of my discussion, success is not just the opposite of failure. I think the very use of the word failure hinders the achievement of success. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying failure is always a bad thing - but the timing of failure is critical! When exceptionally successful people begin a new venture, they frequently try to fail as many times as possible at the very beginning so they uncover all the ways not to proceed. They keep trying to fail even as they begin to make progress, just so that they can determine if there are even better ways to reach their desired ends. For those of us who don't fall into the "exceptionally successful" category, I suggest we get rid of the negative aspects that present themselves with use of the word failure. Let's replace it with the word feedback, which allows us to gather all the information we need to travel the road toward our own desired ends.

So, what do you think makes a massage therapist successful? Clients? Money? Respect of peers? Notoriety? Referrals? Feelings of personal worth? Helping others? How do you obtain those things you think make you successful? Do you have goals? Are they written down? (Unwritten goals really are just wishes!) How strong is your work ethic? Do you regularly ask your clients to rebook before leaving your treatment room? Do you regularly ask them to refer their friends and relatives? Do you regularly ask your doctor/baker/candlestick maker to refer their friends and relatives? Do you truly focus on your clients and try to exceed their expectations? Do you continually learn about the body and the skill sets you can use to affect it? Do you dwell on the positive and throw away words such as if, but, can't and other negatives. Do you befriend others whom you see as successful (even if they don't see themselves that way - remember, success is personal)? Do you smile and say thank you a lot? Do you meet each client confident in your own worth and skill and entitlement to be well-compensated?

I was pleased to see that Southwest Airline's November 2006 in-flight magazine, Spirit, featured an article under the business section that dealt with massage therapy. (Unfortunately, it was titled "There's the Rub.") It was a pretty good overview of the prolific nature of our profession and reviewed several different visions of professional success in massage therapy. It gave readers insight into the advent of chair massage and a new endeavor to make chair massage a branded venture. It covered the growth of massage in airports, malls, convention halls, office buildings and other places in everyday life. Perhaps, most importantly, the article made clear, "Once a specialized therapy for injured athletes, an indulgence for the idle rich, or a thinly veiled euphemism for prostitution, massage has become a popular, legitimate and seemingly ubiquitous enterprise."

I'm hoping that in the success strategies panel discussion, we are able to get many to better define their own visions of success and uncover new or better ways to obtain those visions. Wish me well in facilitating that outcome! I wish that all of Massage Today's readers could participate in that discussion, since I see our profession as less confident in our skills and abilities that many others. We are worth it!

Thanks for listening!


Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters related to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue or online. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4109
Huntington Beach, CA 92605


Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.

 

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