Are you trying to find the cat’s 5th leg?

Back home we have saying (for those want to know, Caracas Venezuela is home), “you are trying to find the cat’s 5th leg.”

We use the saying when people try really hard to find fault where there is none. In other words, you are looking for the one thing that will be a show stopper – like a 5th leg on a cat – so it will easier for you to defend the status quo.

Imagine I’m starting a workout regime and I ask my trainer these questions: Will it be difficult to wake up earlier in the morning for the workout? Will the weights hurt my muscles when I lift them? Do I have to eat healthy? How much Tofu will I have to eat? Will I be sore after workouts?

It would be appropriate for my trainer to tell me, “take it easy, you are trying to find the 5th leg on the cat” because I’m desperately trying to find something where I can justify quitting the training.

Don’t know if it translates well, hopefully it comes across.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because in the private practice world of medicine, we try really, really hard to find that one little thing that will help us prove to our self why we can’t do something like charge for phone calls, charge a 99051 or make a credit card policy.

For example, as a result of our credit card on file policy, I’ve been asked a lot on how to start it. Some questions are pertinent (e.g. Where do you store the credit cards?).

But other questions are asked in a way to find the 5th leg on a cat. How many patients roughly will get upset? How many people will leave the practice? How many patients will dispute the charges? What do you do if someone post a bad review online as a result the credit card practice?

It may come to a surprise to you, but I really don’t know how many people will leave, get upset or chew your staff out. Maybe everybody will write a bad online review… I don’t know.

The truth is, there are going to be hurdles, just like there will be some difficulties and challenges if I were to hire a trainer to whip me into shape.

But if you focus on all the potentially bad what if, you will never do it.

Now, I’m not suggesting to NOT be cautions and plan carefully. And I’m not suggesting for you not to consider the risk in anything you do in your practice.

But I am suggesting to focus on the positive, and the stuff you can control. Focus on the outcome (financially stability, reduce financial risk, working and actually getting paid for it) and stop focusing on trying to find the 5th leg on the cat.

2 thoughts on “Are you trying to find the cat’s 5th leg?”

  1. Brandon, I really do like the credit card on file program.

    I have been thinking a lot about charging for phone calls; patients would often benefit from being able to more frequently communicate with their physicians but to quote your ebook, “no margin, no mission.”

    I know that many insurers don’t provide reimbursement for phone calls and that patients are accustomed to free phone calls but I was wondering if you had any pointers on how to make it work.


  2. Haha! I actually found this because I was watching clips of The Simpsons in Spanish (a language I don’t speak) on YouTube, and Google Translated some of the comments and something came up “please stop looking for the cat 5 legs” in the English translation. Something told me it was a Spanish-language idiom not really used by the Mexican population in the USA (or I probably would have heard it by now), and that it was not a complete screw-up by Google Translate. I was right! haha XD Thanks for this, because there were few results on Google, so I am guessing it is an idiom relatively unknown to English speakers, like “All I know are train stations” in German to mean “I don’t know anything about this/what you are talking about”.

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