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The Greater Good A Profound Lesson About Community Involvement By Douglas Nelson essential skills | TABLE LESSONS "Do you have any suggestions on how I can market my practice?" one of the participants in my seminar asked. "I am just getting my private practice off the ground." "How involved are you in the community?" I asked, as he looked a little puzzled. I could tell he was looking for advice about more traditional advertising strategies. My response had its origin in an experience that was a pivotal moment in my understanding of marketing and my role in the community. One afternoon, many years ago, I received a call from our performing arts center asking if I would be willing to treat three dancers who were performing the next evening. I agreed to see them at the end of my day, always happy to treat artists who come to this community. What I was totally unprepared for when I walked into my waiting room was the age of the dancers. Sitting in my waiting room were three children, ages 10, 12, and 15. Somewhat stunned, I introduced myself. With them was one of the company managers who explained these dancers were part of a dance company from Uganda. All the dancers were children who resided in an orphanage, and their performances helped raise money to support the rest of the children back home. These young performers were dancers and singers, giving audiences a musical tour of the different regions of Uganda. The first dancer to come to my treatment room was the young man who was 15. About halfway through the session, he asked an interesting question. "I noticed that piece of art on your wall outside this room. Is that something pretty, or does it have meaning to you?" Whoa. In the first place, since the day I brought that scroll back from Kyoto, Japan, hardly anyone had ever noticed it. Here is a young man who noticed and inquired as to whether it was decorative or meaningful. I explained that the scroll was titled Ichi-go ichi-e, meaning one opportunity, one encounter. Each moment is an opportunity for service, never to return. In my busy practice, it reminds me to savor every moment with my clients. He seemed to consider this answer as I continued working. Breaking the silence, he asked, "Who owns all this?" "I do," I replied. "Is it your business or your mission?" he immediately responded. I'm sure I seemed shocked at the insight of his question. Recovering my composure, I explained that, indeed, it was both. Yes, it is a business, but I am completely mission- driven with regard to the importance of this field. The mission drives the business. "Yes, but what is your business's role in the community?" he responded. Looking at his insightful eyes, the implication of his question was crystal clear. Surely you wouldn't have a business to benefit yourself. How does your business benefit and serve the community in which you reside? Looking back, I don't really remember my answer. What I do remember thinking is that I probably had the business for years before I started to ponder that question. Now, in front of me was someone not old enough to drive who was thinking from a community perspective. It was a powerful moment, one that has clarified and guided my vision of the office ever since. Going back to my conversation with the new therapist, I suggested he think about ways he could be more involved in service to his community. As I look at my own schedule, many of the clients I see are in some way connected to the volunteer efforts of myself or the office in general. Referrals such as this L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 87 TAKEAWAY: Volunteering and other civic involvement within the community you live and work not only brings personal satisfaction, but can also help build your massage business. dancer are likely the product of my service in various volunteer roles to the performing arts center. In many ways, this is not surprising, as massage therapy is a very personal connection between the client and therapist. A common barrier for new clients considering massage therapy is the unknown. Potential clients ponder questions about what will happen in a session, and most importantly, who is this person who will be performing it? When people already know the therapist by having worked beside them on a service project, a relationship of trust has been established. It also implies that the therapist has a heart for service, which reflects well not only on that person, but the profession too. I know very successful therapists who are actively involved in leadership roles in service organizations like Rotary International and the chamber of commerce, and one therapist who is mayor of his village. Each of us, in our own communities, ref lects the field of massage therapy. It is a profound gift of wisdom from my young dancer that I share with you. By doing good, you will do well. Douglas Nelson is the founder and principal instructor for Precision Neuromuscular Therapy Seminars, president of the 20-therapist clinic BodyWork Associates in Champaign, Illinois, and past president of the Massage Therapy Foundation. His clinic, seminars, and research endeavors explore the science behind this work. Visit or email him at NEIL THOMAS/UNSPL ASH

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