Dr Rod Irwin wants you to change your mind

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Dr Rod Irwin
Dr Rod Irwin seeks to inspire others.

A Victorian vet is on a mission to help others enjoy business and life success. By Cameron Cooper

For Dr Rod Irwin to be able to declare himself “calm, confident and loving life” is something of a personal miracle.

Things were not always so positive for the former owner of Devoted Vets, a mixed-practice veterinary clinic in Warragul, Victoria. Fourteen years ago, facing a $1.1m business debt, crippling anxiety, debilitating insomnia and low self-esteem, he knew things had to change, and quickly. 

“I was in so much pain at that time, I’d be literally curled up in a corner,” he recalls.

A turning point occurred during a holiday break in 2010 in the UK when Dr Irwin started reading the book Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work, by leadership coach Dr David Rock. With the book outlining a way to use neuroscience and positive psychology to achieve success, Dr Irwin felt he had found an evidence-based way of fighting off his demons. 

First, understanding that the brain is not ‘set’, but rather is in a continual state of flux and change and, second, there are simple strategies and tactics to take control of that change. “That was the lightbulb moment for me,” Dr Irwin says.

Over a number of years of research, he learnt many more neuroscience-based strategies and how to apply them to his business. It turned everything around—delivering satisfied clients, a revitalised workforce, a massive jump in profits, and personal happiness as he led a thriving practice. 

Spiralling out of control

It is fair to say that Dr Irwin, a University of Melbourne veterinary science graduate, had hit rock bottom in 2008. With his business in deep debt and his anxiety at an all-time high, his life was in danger as he worked in a profession where mental health woes have been well documented.

“Everyone experiences anxiety, but it becomes a problem when it interferes with your lifestyle, health and wellbeing, and mine certainly did,” Dr Irwin says.

Drawing on his neuroscience lessons from Dr Rock and complementing them with his own insights and approaches, he stepped up as a leader and transformed Devoted Vets. From a self-doubting vet who felt like a failure, he became a quietly confident and proud leader of a booming practice with five vets, seven support staff and a clientele of 2500.

“I really got a handle on my business. I was kicking goals all over the place and I had a loyal and motivated team instead of disharmonious staff. I’d gone from struggling to make a profit to high levels of profitability.”

The impact on Dr Irwin’s self-esteem—which had first taken a beating courtesy of merciless bullying in his high school days—cannot be understated. “I used to come back from calls and drive into the clinic and think, ‘Wow, I created this’. It was such a fabulous feeling to walk into work knowing that you were making a great difference to the lives of your team and clients.”

He had a mission and sense of purpose. He led with drive and passion. He promoted positive emotions and feedback that became infectious for workers and clients.

“I think we all know that successful business comes from the top, and the flip side is that the fish stinks from the head down,” Dr Irwin says. “I became confident in what I was doing.”

On course for triumph

Given his love of mixed-practice veterinary work, Dr Irwin admits it was tough to retire from the profession, signing off after performing a successful caesarean at 2am a couple of years ago. “In some ways I miss it greatly, but it was right for me to step away from veterinary practice to now help the profession,” he says.

These days Dr Irwin’s passion is to help other vets and professionals flourish—and avoid his mistakes—with his own online course called Get Wired for Success. The aim is to give people a way to crush their negative mindsets, anxieties and fears, unleash their own amazing potential, and achieve their life and business dreams.

Through Get Wired for Success, he distils reams of neuroscience theories into an easy-to-understand strategy for business and personal achievement—what he calls the 12 Keys to Wire Your Brain for Success.

The online course and his coaching sessions are designed to turn negative mindsets and feelings into their opposite, while providing a platform for business transformation based around a vision, a mission, values and a higher emotional intelligence.

“I not only saved myself, but I’m now in a wonderful state of mind to help others.”

Dr Irwin offers vet clinics a free one hour webinar titled “How to Wire Your Brain for Success”, or to unlock a fifty percent discount for the vet profession on his strategy for success, visit www.getwiredforsuccess.com/webinardeal.


On the road to success

Dr Irwin outlines four of his 12 keys to help people succeed personally and professionally.

  • Many of our negative emotions, thoughts and beliefs are hardwired, but hardwiring can be undone. The trick is to just let them ‘be’. “This simple fact at once liberates us from our past and sometimes crippling self-limiting beliefs.”
  • In your mind, what you focus on becomes bigger and bigger, so focus on positive emotions, thinking and beliefs. “By doing this, the miracle is that the negative brain cell networks controlling our lives will loosen and become weaker with time.” 
  • Engage in ‘applied’ mental rehearsal, mindfulness, meditation, mantras and music. The five ‘Ms’ help us wire our brains for desired outcomes. “So, for example, to help overcome my low self-esteem and anxiety, I built an avatar of myself that is calm, confident and courageous, and hardwired it into my psyche with the five Ms.”
  • Understand that repetition hardwires the brain for the outcomes you want. Just as a veterinary surgeon or a concert pianist gets better and better with practice, we have to keep practising to master our emotions, feelings and actions. “The delight is that once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier and easier!”

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