Beyond Practice Management: Here's the answer

2009 08 19 10 27 14 220 Don Deems 70

It's a shame a slightly catchy title has the power to garner our attention, especially one that intimates a quick answer to our personal questions and concerns at a given moment. So who wouldn't be drawn to wanting to know "The Answer"?

That, of course, is what we are accustomed to, with all of the hype, sensationalism, false promises, and hoards of marketing we are bombarded with every day. In fact, do you know that we are exposed to more than 3,500 marketing messages daily? Today, a large percentage of these messages are aimed at providing The Answers to our woes, which for most are quite numerous in these trying times, from health to money, from relationships to religion, and, of course not to be left out, our practices.

Thus, we are often quick to take the bait -- and end up frustrated, disappointed, and disillusioned. Yes, there is no such thing as a lasting shortcut that will lead you to how you define the success you desire.

Perhaps I've already gotten your attention; I hope so. If I have, let me ask you these questions:

  • Who knows your practice best?
  • Who knows your dreams best?
  • Who knows your aspirations best?
  • Who is the one responsible for all of that?

As a professional coach for more than a decade, I've watched the ones who've achieved their goals and dreams and who've led their practices to success. These doctors (and their teams) either developed or did the following:

  • They took action.
  • They were focused.
  • They became strong leaders.
  • They had a plan and were willing to change that plan at any moment.
  • They quit tolerating problems in their life and their practice.
  • They were willing to look inward, long and hard.
  • They started trusting their intuition.
  • They made decisions and moved ahead, even if it was not the right decision.
  • They took very good care of themselves.
  • They didn't play "victim" by blaming other people, organizations, or the government.
  • They were on a consistent journey of growth, both personally and professionally.
  • They were not afraid of change.
  • They were able to frame situations in multiple ways, to gain a larger, more appropriate perspective.
  • Life was no longer black and white; it became infinite shades of gray.

What about the ones who didn't achieve their goals and dreams? Did they just have a poor coach? They would not have achieved a certain level of success had they not had at least some of the same characteristics and traits as the ones who did achieve their definition of success. However, they were lacking in many of the areas I mentioned above, and most important they weren't willing to stay engaged in the process of living their dream. They simply got the help they needed to get out of their immediate, uncomfortable situation, then jumped right back into the same old rut -- minus the pressing "problem."

Would you say putting out grassfires is going to lead anyone to long-term success and fulfillment?

"Beyond Practice Management" -- the title of this long-running series -- is just about that: looking at yourself and your practice from the outside. "Practice Management" is what we do during the day. "Beyond Practice Management" is what we do outside the daily tasks that lead us to something beyond the ordinary. Said another way, which you may have heard, we are working "on" our practice, not "in" our practice.

I want you to think of someone you deeply admire in your life. Think slowly and intensely about that person. Make a list of all of the attributes that you admire about this person.

Can you emulate them? Can you learn from them? What would it take for you to be more like them? What steps are you willing to take? When are you willing to start?

I'm somewhat sorry to say, but successful people didn't achieve their success by luck. Sure, some had some fortunate circumstances, and some may have been in the right place at the right time. Does that mean we need to give up just because we haven't experienced either of those fortunes? Of course not. As a person who has overcome incredible challenges, I don't consider myself special. I just buckled down to get the job done, and I, too, developed the characteristics of those clients of mine who achieved success.

No matter what you are faced with, whether it be our government and their meddling and regulations, our associations or state boards, or a plethora of other challenges, you CAN work through these changes with the right attitude, the right approach for you and your practice, and the willingness to make it happen.

I hope you accept the challenge. We have a great profession, and it's time to step up to the plate and work together. First, we must make that personal commitment, then we should come together as the professionals we are.

It all starts with you. Take the time to assess your goals and aspirations, your skills and style, your practice and your life, and begin making a plan to move toward that which you want most. And as Jewel says in her song "Life Uncommon," "No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from."

Dr. Deems is a professional personal and business coach to dentists and their teams and is a practicing dentist. Since 2005, he has been named to Dentistry Today's Top Leaders in Continuing Education and is the author of several books, the most recent titled The Dentist's Coach: Build a Vibrant Practice and the Life You Want. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 501-413-1101.

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