Have you wondered where to go with your life, career, and practice in a post-pandemic world? Many of us have had to change to survive, and we want to make some further changes to flourish. Does the world seem unfriendly, or are the old ways no longer working? Where do we start to change the direction of our personal and professional life?
James Altucher's book about reinvention, Reinvent Yourself, is an excellent place to start your journey, whether you want to improve on what is currently working or take an altogether different direction.
Many business gurus believe that self-assessment, prioritization, and mental focus are the key traits to successfully reinvent yourself every five years. Why every five years? We go stale and burn out unless we awaken to what we truly want and need. We can get into a rut and not be happy and not know how to change for the better.
In analyzing what it is you want to change, what is your perception of what needs to change and why? For instance, suppose that your new patient numbers have dropped off. What do you need to do to attract and keep your patients happy? Is it different from what you are doing now? What have you been doing that is no longer working?
Are you looking for ways to improve practice revenue? Have you considered billing medical insurance for procedures that may be covered? If you've avoided it because you don't know how to bill medical insurance, you could outsource it to a professional billing company.
Have you considered taking extra time to help your older patients understand Medicare Advantage plans? What about dental savings plans? These are all options that help patients pay for dental care so they are more likely to accept treatment.
Stephen Covey's metaphor of the emotional bank account is a proactive way to establish a strong foundation of trust with the important people in your life, your team, and your patients. The concept of an emotional bank account works like this: Your relationships are like bank accounts. They start with a neutral balance in the account and allow for deposits and withdrawals.
We can make regular deposits to build relationships as we interact with people. Over time, we gain a healthy positive balance. We may have a disagreement or an argument, and we then make a withdrawal. Hopefully, the relationship will be healthy and sound in the aftermath, and our account still has a positive balance.
A higher balance in our emotional bank account leads to higher levels of trust and healthy communication. Take a moment to evaluate your emotional bank account or relationships with your team and your patients.
Five things to consider to build a healthy emotional bank account
How do we create healthy emotional bank accounts? Below are five steps you can put into action in your interactions with team members starting today:
- Seek to understand others before you need to be understood. Put yourself in the shoes of your staff. Listen to them, and learn about the unique people you interact with.
- Little things mean a lot. Small details have a huge impact, and they don't cost anything. Treat others respectfully, and behave in ways that show care and thoughtfulness.
- Keep your commitments. Make sure your promises are realistic. Keep those promises and live up to your word, not just about the big things like goals but daily things such as being on time, leading meetings, and showing gratitude to your staff when they work overtime.
- Clarify your expectations. Define your expectations, write them down, and communicate them to your team. People who suddenly change directions on whims lose the trust of others.
- Demonstrate personal integrity. This step is the cornerstone of trust in relationships. Walk the walk with honesty and integrity. Apologize sincerely when you make a mistake. Others need to see that you operate within your core values.
As Stephen Covey states in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "Trust is the highest form of human motivation." It's a feeling of safety with another human being.
Where do you stand with your patients?
Are you more interested in securing financial and physical assets than human assets? Are you building your emotional bank account with your patients too? Here are three ways you can increase your emotional bank account with patients:
- Take the extra time to connect with your patients. How are you feeding the relationships with your patients?
- When you enter the treatment room, is the patient prone? When they see you, are you wearing a mask, loupe, face shield, gloves, and a white lab coat? Their perception is that you are the doctor, ready to jump into their mouths. Let the patient see you first as a caring human instead of a clinician. You may be surprised by the results that come from taking a moment to form a personal connection first with patients.
- Ask yourself: Are your strengths enough to please your patients and engender their trust? Ask people that you respect and trust what they think of you and how you might improve.
Many factors -- internal and external -- are addressed when we reinvent ourselves. Making a list of what hasn't worked and what you want to change kick-starts the journey. Prioritize the list and begin.
After you have worked on your list for a while and have seen progress, take a step back and analyze your progress by asking the following questions:
- In which areas have you seen improvement?
- What small wins have you had since you began your reinvention?
- What roadblocks have you faced along the way?
- What have you learned from moving the roadblocks?
- In which areas would you like to improve? How will you get there?
- Have any of your core values, strengths, and goals shifted?
- Do you need to refocus your reinvention in new directions?
It may be a post-pandemic world, but we can make it a better world if we realize that change for the better can make a massive difference in our lives and the lives of others.
Dr. James V. Anderson is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, UT, and is the CEO and founder of eAssist Dental Solutions. He can be reached via email.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.