The positives

Editor's note: The Coaches Corner column appears regularly on the advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

Tough times? You bet.

No one likes an economic downturn. When our businesses are off from the previous year (and maybe even the year before that), the temptation is to feel empty and despairing. What can we do?

The answer: plenty. During stressful times, it's important to take stock of what we are doing now, at this moment, with the information, the technology, and the people around us.

Here is a simple exercise you might find helpful:

Sit in a quiet place and identify 10 positives in your office. Write each item down and reflect on it. Really think about all aspects of your practice -- your personnel, the year's events, conversations, especially successful treatments, and whatever else feels uplifting.

This is the list I developed last week. Just the act of writing this was a wonderful mood elevator. But more than that, I found it to be an easily accessible doorway to new ways of thinking about the possibilities right in front of me.

The positives

  1. We have brought a new soft-tissue management program, called Perio Protect, into our office. Everyone, including our patients, is really excited about it.

  2. Our hygienist spearheaded this initiative. It energizes me and the office when leadership emerges right before our eyes.

  3. We have a new staff person, a bright and energetic 20-year-old. Just having new blood around allows the rest of us to teach and share our enthusiasm about dentistry and the intimacy we have with our patients. (Besides, we can tell all of our old stories again to someone who hasn't heard them!)

  4. As we show this new staff member the ropes, we find ourselves thinking about how we can utilize new technology, sharpen our communication skills, and improve our patient care.

  5. The occasion for our new staff member was the relocation of a long-time employee (who was hired around the same time our newbie was born!). Her "retirement" was a shock from which we didn't expect to recover, especially in such tough times. But while we do miss her terribly, we now realize (a) how thrilling it is for our new employee to be hired in such an economic environment, and how that kind of enthusiasm rubs off on an office; and (b) how joyous it is for us to discover such a jewel of a person!

  6. In addition, we find that the increased downtime allows us to really hear our patients' appreciation more, and we are more conscious about expressing our own.

  7. Out of the blue, we learned that a patient who moved a thousand miles away is making a special trip across the country to see us for a dental issue. How good does that feel?

  8. Another feel-good moment was when a dentist called me from Chicago after he had seen a long-standing patient who was there for business. He said he loved our work and told us that he would be "privileged" to send people to our office.

  9. As we explore the new issues of marketing in this new social-media world, it gives the office a chance to explore our core values and evaluate what new opportunities are right for us and, just as important, which are not.

  10. And No. 9 leads us down a path of examining old charts and patients that are dormant, to explore ways of bring them back into the fold.

And as they say in lottery world ... here is the supplemental number:

  1. In writing these out, I found myself thinking about patients and friends, some of whom are sick or diminished with age, and how I might reach out to them, offering my friendship, love, and appreciation for our history and relationship.

Can you find 10 positives? Come on, I'm sure you can! And remember to share your list with your staff. I'm sure they will love to see it.

Alan Goldstein, D.M.D., F A.C.D., is a member of the Dental Coaches Association, an organization of dentists and professional coaches who are committed to bringing professional coaching to the dental profession. Learn more by visiting

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2010

Page 1 of 348
Next Page