When Success Becomes A Living Hell

I talk about 4 lessons inside Austin Kleon's "Keep Going" and translate them into how you can apply them as an osteopath.

Podcast Episode Transcript

Being an osteopath is a rollercoaster of ups and downs. You’re going to hot streaks where everything works effortlessly. But you’re also going to have days, weeks or even months where nothing seems to go for you.

One skill you need to learn as an osteopath is the skill of learning how to keep going in a way that’s sustainable.

When I think of people who get stuck in a rut, I think of artists. Staring at a blank page or seeming to not create anything meaningful for months sometimes years at a time.

How do they keep going? I’m sure they have lessons that would work for us as osteopaths too.

Keep Going by Austin Kleon is one of a trilogy of his short, super easy and enjoyable to read books. He’s an artist who believes that over the course of almost a decade of trying to figure out how to make art and speaking with his non-artist friends that everyone is facing the same problems, just in different contexts. All the answers that are helpful to artists are in-fact helpful to everyone.

Welcome back to Behind The Osteopath. My name is Alan Zaia, I’m an osteopath, Founder of Osteohustle where we plan, build and grow dream careers for osteopaths.

If you see value in what I’m trying to share, if you can, please leave a 5 star review. If you want to connect with me, my email is in the description or if you’re on your phone, click on the episode, scroll down and you’ll find a Q&A section.

I’ve got a good question for you this week, so listen out for that.

So, as you know, Behind The Osteopath is based on my belief that you should never open a clinic without fully understanding what it takes and a part of that means I’m covering 10 books I believe every osteopath should read.

As always, I first read Keep Going back in 2021 and of course again for this podcast.

Let’s give into four lessons from Keep Going by Austin Kleon.

Create A Bliss Station

One thing that seriously resonated with me when reading this book is when Austin says: “Creativity is about connection…but it is also about disconnection. You must retreat from the world long enough to think, practice your art and bring forth something worth sharing with others.

Let’s break this down.

Imagine you’ve been trying to figure out how to move your business forward, but you simply don’t have the time to dedicate to figuring out the answer. The key is forcing yourself away from your current situation, disconnecting, retreating from the world long enough to think. It’s impossible to think if you don’t give yourself the space.

That’s why you need to create a bliss station. Austin says: “In The Power of Myth (which is a book), Joseph Campbell said everyone should build a “bliss station”. This is essentially a certain place or a certain time of the day where you can block out the world and the world won’t bother you.

And what’s interesting is that Austin also speaks about having a daily routine, where you force yourself to do something even if it’s not ideal. He says: “A little imprisonment—if it’s of your own making—can set you free.

So let’s bring all of this together. One of our business coaching clients has multiple kids and they struggle to carve out a meaningful amount of time get things done. On top of that, they have multiple associates who understandably want to pick their brain about patients and all sorts of other things.

You can see that this client would really benefit from having their own bliss station. Austin says: “The deluxe package would include both a special room and a special hour that you enter it. But I think one can make up for a lack of the other. For example, say you have a tiny apartment you share with small children. There’s no room for your bliss station, there’s only time. When the kids are asleep or at school or day care, even a kitchen table can become a bliss station. Or, let’s say your schedule is totally unpredictable and a certain time of day can’t be relied upon—that’s when a dedicated space that’s ready for you at any time will come in handy.

Our advice to our coaching client was to have a set routine list of things they check off every day before they leave for work, usually capped to one hour after finishing with patients.

The bonus here being that you don’t take your work home with you. Working from the clinic also meant communicating with their associates as to not disturb them during certain times. But since our client wanted to, of course, continue to provide regular brain picking sessions, we recommended that they make it clear when associates could come to ask questions. Then any questions outside that time could be sent in an email or voice note, with the promise of getting back to them as soon as possible.

Now, our client feels they can cater to everyone, including themselves as they can start making progress with getting stuff done that’s been on the to-do for ages.

I think it’s important here to say that for you, this before-leaving-work list may be different depending on the day and you may only have this rule for yourself on Monday’s and Friday’s. Remember that routines must adapt to your specific needs. Go and listen to episode 8 if you want to learn more about getting to grips with your time.

Here’s this weeks’ question, so if you’re on your phone, click on the episode, scroll down and you’ll find a Q&A section.

Where is your bliss station? What certain place or time works best for you and why? Let me know. Come and connect with me!

Slow Down

There’s a great quote by John Steinbeck in this chapter which says: “Let’s slow down, not in pace or wordage but in nerves.”

Austin says: “It’s impossible to pay proper attention to your life if you are hurtling along at lightning speed. When your job is to see things other people don’t, you have to slow down enough that you can actually look. When people look slowly, they make discoveries.

I believe that one of the greatest skills you can develop as an osteopath is the ability to slow down. The point here is that no matter what you’re struggling with, you can’t go wrong with slowing down, removing distractions, maybe even isolating yourself so you can breathe and figure out what you need to do. Chances are that you’re doing too much and need a fresh pair of eyes.

I really could ramble on here about the amount of osteopaths who are overworked, and frazzled because they have so many problems to solve at once and they’re actually trying to solve them all at once. I promise you that if you’re looking to move forward, you need to drop things and slow down.

When There Is No Gift, There Is No Art

Here Austin talks about the difference between success and suck-cess. He talks about the fact that everyone has their own version of success, but even if you’re not totally sure, you’ll have a clear idea as to what you absolutely don’t want to be doing. Austin says that “suckcess is when something you think sucks becomes successful”.

And what I want to talk about here is the idea of feeling like you need to strive to achieve what others believe is successful. It sounds obvious when you say it out loud, but it’s something I speak about a lot with osteopaths. They have this idea that ‘oh, they’re doing this, so that’s what I should be doing’. Whether that’s earning x amount of money, opening their own clinic or moving somewhere just because it seems like the right thing to do. Speak to anyone who lives somewhere they don’t want to live and they’ll tell you that no matter how much money you make, you’d prefer to live somewhere else. And the same goes for clinic owners who bring on one too many associates or opens another location – things just get too big or too complicated to enjoy.

What I’m trying to say to you is that, no matter if you’re in your early 20s with lots of choice or you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, please know that you should never do what others believe counts as success. Alternatives always exist – you just may not know about them.

Demons Hate Fresh Air

When was the last time you went on a 2 hour walk with just your keys? No phone. By yourself. You just walked alongside your thoughts.

One great thing about this book is the fact that Austin takes a lot from the creative arts world but it can be applied to almost anyone.

Austin talks about how Aristotle, Einstein, Virginia Woolf and loads more iconic people would use long walks for contemplation, reflection and problem-solving.

A great quote by Diogenes, who was a Greek philosopher who said “It is solved by walking.” Austin says: “To exercise is to exorcise. Demons hate fresh air.

Every single week, my partner Emma and I will go on what we like to call the big walk. This is where we simply walk and talk for anywhere between 1-4 hours. It really is the highlight of my week. We talk about problems, life, work, family, friends and everything in between. It’s great.

I seriously recommend you have your version of the big walk. It’s like a cleanse because of all the problem solving space you give yourself.

I know that I’m probably coming across quite idealistic here. I can imagine you telling me, yeah, try that with a newborn baby when your eyes are hanging out your sockets. I hear you and yeah, you’re not going to be able to do these kinds of things as often as you probably want to, but if you can make it work, even under non-ideal circumstances, please do.


Before you go, I have something I’d like to share with you, so thank you if you’ve gotten this far.

Rereading these books and getting your feedback has been just amazing – so thank you if you have emailed me or left a 5-star review and if you can, it would be great if you could leave a 5 star review. It tells me that you’re enjoying what I’m trying to do – so yeah – please email me with your insights and get involved in the Q&A section, I’d love to hear from you.

I hope you found these insights as valuable as I did. Subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode. Your career will thank you for it. See you for the next episode. Cheers.

Written by Alan Zaia M.Ost

Founder & CEO of Osteohustle. You’ll find Alan coaching osteopaths, travelling in a van or writing our weekly newsletter, The Hustle.

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