Discussion boards are alive these days with ideas, complaints, fear, inaccuracies, promises, gimmicks, and much, much more. It’s easy to get sucked into the ruckus because everyone has an opinion, and sometimes these opinions erupt into near name-calling. What the heck is going on?
I’m not here to take sides, tell you what you should be doing to create the future you want, or to offer solutions to the woes of dentists and dentistry.
I am here to coach you about creating and developing the skills necessary to adapt and flourish in rapidly changing times. Understand this:
- The past is over. You can’t change it, it happened. The End. Next page.
- The future is not under your dictatorial control. You can influence your future, and if you are so-minded, you can help influence the course of dentistry.
- The present is happening right now, so don’t fall asleep at the wheel. You cannot go to work every day and just see how much dentistry you can convince someone to pay you for. That will lead to big troubles.
- In order to be able to adapt and flourish, you have to start looking at yourself. Who are you? Yes, I know, a dentist, among many other roles you play. That’s not what I’m asking. What I’m asking is who are you at the core of your being? Don’t want to think about it? I’m not your guy. If I am your guy, then I want you to identify your values and principles and commit them to paper. Think about this for a while. What guides your decisions, your direction, and your life? Do you listen to your own inner voice, or do you jump from one person or organization that claims to have the next grand solution?
- What ways have you created reserves in your life? Perhaps you’re running your practice from month-to-month, hoping you have enough to pay the bills … without having to make any changes in how you operate or the income you’re taking. Perhaps you’re also living at home month-to-month, also. Do you have a plan for creating reserves in your life? And, I don’t just mean monetary reserves, but reserves of time, renewal, introspection, personal growth, professional development – and more.
- Do you have high standards in all you do? Do you meet those standards daily? Are you brave enough to set the bar higher than what it is now, or have you let things slip for whatever reason?
- Do you plan, or do you “wing it”? What about involving your team? Have you become frustrated with them, even to the point of blaming them for the state of your practice? Have you resorted to being a micro-manager, or just thrown in the towel?
These are tough – even brutal, “in-your-face” questions – but nevertheless are questions you’ve got to address if you’re going to create a future of choice, despite what the President, the ADA, the AGD, our government, or the insurance industry throws at us. A one- or two legged stool that you may be perched on will easily topple. It’s time to build an indestructible practice and life that will happen no matter what comes your way. It’s times like these that separate the pros from the hacks, the leaders from the followers, and the survivors from the victims. Truly, we don’t have it that bad, but if you want to believe it is, then go ahead; how well would that serve you?
I didn’t become a professional coach until I had been practicing dentistry for fourteen years. It was during the last five of those fourteen years that I began asking myself all of these difficult questions, and most importantly, started doing something about it. I was given a deck of cards that no dentist would envy, and one that would’ve done most dentists “in”. I could’ve easily chosen a different path, but I didn’t.
One of the things I discovered is that I wasn’t as stupid as everything I read told me I was. The second thing I discovered was that all of us have the answers – and the guts – inside of us to make the changes in our lives and practices that only we know the intimate details about. Third, I discovered that my purpose was to help others find their own way. Thus, true professional coaching because a passion of mine the past eleven years, and yes, I practice dentistry full time, too.
What are the steps that you can take to create a different present reality (if you want one) or a preferred future of choice (if you want that one, too)? As a professional coach who won’t step over that pile in the floor (you know what I’m referring to), here are some starters that – if you choose to complete them – will pay dividends from this point forward.
- Set aside time to honestly and openly answer the above questions. Get help to brainstorm if you need it.
- Decide what skills you need to improve to be able to raise your standards.
- Develop a one month, six month, one year, and five year plan. To do this for your practice, follow a template, such as Jim Horan’s One Page Business Plan. Evaluate often – very often. Changing times means changing plans – or dying on the vine.
- Clean up all the things you’ve been putting up with in your practice and your life. If you spend a lot of time putting out fires, being pulled away from important tasks, or enabling people to be poor employees, you can’t spend the time you need to tend to the important tasks.
- Take care of yourself. A vacation is not a CE course. Eating fast food is not giving you more time. Sleeping fewer hours isn’t creating more productive hours each day.
- Quit competing with anyone or everyone; it won’t serve you. Look to collaborate, connect, and communicate. Learn how to let your ego take a back seat.
Greater success, a solid practice, and a rewarding life doesn’t happen by chance; it happens by hard work. Time to roll up your sleeves!