To be a thriving massage therapist, your physical, spiritual and financial well being all need to be attended to. These are the essential structures that contribute to a healthy massage practice. Looking back on my own history, I can see that weakness in any of them always added struggle.
Strength in all six made me unstoppable. I believe absolutely that if you are committed to making all six of these components strong, you can’t fail.
The First Pillar: Competence
Okay, so this may seem obvious. There is more to this than just being competent, however. Not only do you have to know your stuff, but you also have to be able to communicate this fact to your clients and potential clients. You can have an impressive array of modalities and skills to draw from, but if your potential clients don’t have faith that you can make their pain go away, they won’t get on your table. Communication is a huge part of it.
And, for those of you who are wildly intuitive and sheepishly confess that you don’t know your anatomy and physiology all that well, It’s time to get to it. You can’t build a practice on charm and intuition. Knowing your anatomy and kinesiology gives you the language to explain why you do what you do so your clients can understand and be impressed. It also strengthens your intuition, because when your logical mind understands why you are led a certain way, it trusts more.
I trust my intuition 100%. I also have the practical understanding to back up my intuition.
If you are at all weak in your understanding of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, or the particulars of your modality (meridians? nadis? pressure points?) then get serious about this part before exploring further. Competence is essential. Consistent ability to get results rests on this. Without it, your practice cannot thrive.
The Second Pillar: Relationship
This business, arguably more than any other, is built on relationships. Relationships that are professional, safe, warm and caring are the foundation of a successful practice. We need to show up as consistent and trustworthy, and we also need to have excellent boundaries. I can’t think of a profession that has a trickier set of standards than ours. Mastering this provides a strong container to hold a big practice if you so choose.
The Third Pillar: Audacity
Are you visible with what you do? Are you willing to show your expertise at any time, almost anywhere? Are you brave in the face of outdated stereotypes about what it means to be a massage therapist? Do you correct people if they try to call you a masseuse? Is it ok with you to be called a masseuse?
Whatever your views about our profession and your skill, are you willing to stand up and be counted, and show people what you can do? Do you boldly go forth and impress people?
The Fourth Pillar: Business Skills
Ok, so it’s obviously necessary to know how to run a business. What a lot of therapists don’t consider is whether the business model they are using is as effective as it could be. There are so many ways to work as a massage therapist. Does the way your business is structured work to serve you in your life?
A good example of what I’m talking about is the one session one fee model. This is what most of us do. Whatever the “going” rate is, we charge that, for a one hour session. Then, we have to re-sell, again and again.
I sell in packages of five or more, so my clients are committed and my income is steady. I also like to do 90 minute sessions, and I have educated my clients to prefer this as well. This way my clients get more complete work, and I have to generate fewer sessions. That’s a win/win! Better results, less laundry, and less marketing. That’s working smart, not hard.
The Fifth Pillar: Self Care
Our profession has a huge burnout rate. I find this ironic, actually. Aren’t we here to help our clients take better care of themselves? How prosperous are we going to be if we are lack integrity? That’s the nuts and bolts, right there. There are many other compelling reasons to put self care first, too many to list here. I will say that the better care I take of myself, the more money I make. This is actually very logical. If you haven’t made this discovery yet, I invite you to try it and see!
The Sixth Pillar: Mindset
Nothing is possible unless you believe it is.
While it’s true that sometimes extraordinary experiences create new possibilities for us, in the realm of day to day work we have to have a bold belief structure to create bold results. MIndset is such a huge piece of success that there is an entire industry built up around it.
Having the right mindset will not substitute for action, however. Action without the mindset to give it power will also yield modest results. Right action powered with expansive mindset will make you unstoppable.
Here is an example of a mindset that has served me extraordinarily well over the years. I adopted it very early, before I even graduated from massage school. I don’t know where it came from. It just appeared in my mind, and I embraced it. It went like this:
If I can get them on my table, they will stay with me.
I chose to believe this. AND, it was overwhelmingly true! I can count on the fingers of one hand the times it wasn’t. That’s over the course of 23 years. What action did this belief create?
I didn’t hesitate to market, because my only concern was getting clients to try my work. I believed that once I did that, the rest would be easy. This made me an audacious marketer. It also made me engaged in keeping my clients coming back, because I was invested in seeing the mindset proved true.
Some mindsets to let go of:
The struggling healer, the starving artist, the scarcity concept that makes you undercharge, the belief that caring for others comes before caring for yourself.
I could write pages and pages on this. For now, ask yourself,
What could I change my mind about that would rock my world?
There you have them, my six pillars. I believe that if all of these are strong, you cannot fail. If they are not, you are probably struggling unnecessarily.
If I had to imagine these six pillars holding up a structure, the roof would be inspiration and the foundation would be persistence.
Try hanging out in this temple and see what happens!