Fear, anxiety, and anger: Ruling (ruining) your life

By Don Deems, DDS, FAGD

November 16, 2009 -- Editor's note: The Coaches Corner column appears regularly on the DrBicuspid.com advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

Fear, anxiety, anger: Three states of being I hear often from dentists. What are they scared of? Anxious over? Angry about?

Oh, there's a lot, you can bet. Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the fear that was pervasive in America as our country was trying to recover from the Great Depression, noting "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat to advance." He went on to say in that famous speech that "it is the knife's edge that separates failure from success in life."

I would argue that fear is the knife's edge that separates a dentist's success from failure in practice.

What is your knife's edge? Where do you teeter on greater success? Where do you not dare to approach the edge?

For many of us, it can be the fear of doing something we're not 100% confident about doing. It could be taking action to fire an employee who is just not contributing to the team fully. It could be setting standards, boundaries, and protocols in your practice -- and sticking to them. It could be the risk of telling someone -- anyone -- the truth, be it a patient, staff member, or even a friend. It could be a thousand things.

Take a minute to think about where you are holding back.

How often have you rationalized, justified, and convinced yourself to not take action, to stay in your current situation? Are you thinking that something outside of you will change so you don't have to take action? What is taking place in your practice that you're struggling with? What have you been banging your head against the wall about for too long?

Lawyers, consultants, dental school instructors, even our colleagues have told us that we should not do this or that. The media has hood-winked us into nearly believing that the world is coming to an end soon -- with or without Obama at the lead! The sad thing about ALL of this is that we believe it. It's not just sad: It's sucking the life right out of everyone, and it has to stop!

If you want to begin making some real change in your practice and your life, consider the following:

--What have you believed as truth that has kept you from taking action?

--Where could you take bolder actions?

--How will you stop fear from dictating your decisions?

--Are you willing to run your practice on solid business actions rather than your emotions?

--Where do you need help? (see http://money.cnn.com/video/fortune/2009/06/19/f_ba_schmidt_google.fortune/)

It's often been said that fear is all in our heads, and my experience is that's mostly true. All of us have experienced fear at one time or another, but why do we continue to experience fear when there's no real reason for it?

I have personally felt like there were concrete walls I could never break through, that I was doomed to live inside a smaller and smaller space. I was scared, and at times I didn't even know why. In fact, there was no reason to be scared, but I didn't know it! Once I broke through those walls -- usually one at a time -- life changed, a little at first, then faster and faster. I looked back to see those walls, and I couldn't even find them. I knew they were once there, but somehow they had vanished into thin air ... once I gathered the courage to make change.

You can do the same. I needed help, and maybe you do too. Gather that courage, look inside for your answers, and be bold in your actions.

You can do it, no matter what anyone tells you.

Don Deems, D.D.S., F.A.G.D., known as the Dentist's Coach, is a co-founder of the Dental Coaches Association, an organization of dentists who are professional coaches committed to bringing professional coaching to the dental profession. Learn more about professional coaching by visiting www.dentalcoachesassociation.org.

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.

Copyright © 2009 DrBicuspid.com

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