A Practice is Powered by Who and Why, Not What and How

When strangers ask me ‘what I do,’ of course we find our way into the world of dentistry and I proudly emphasize not the ‘what’ but the ‘who’ because to me that is the exciting part.  It’s who that makes the what special.

You say the same thing, don’t you?  It’s not so much the dentistry, but the people.  It’s your patients that give you meaning, purpose, significance, and make it all worthwhile.

What’s interesting is that doctors ask me the very same question.  Usually, it’s the first night I’m meeting them for our pre-Blueprint dinner where the doctor and their significant other shows up to Nashville.  We sit down and just get to know each other.  Like you sitting down with your patient for the very first time.

Then I get the question… it’s not a bad question, but it comes with more than just curiosity.  It’s more questioning my sensibilities about how on earth I picked dentistry or some go as far as to why I decided to work with dentists.  I just have to chuckle because for me it is what was meant to be.

We just mesh.  In principle, which is what matters.  And I’ve written here before about my three strategic choices and business decisions for why I’m here… and really why you are here.

That’s not the point for today.  The point is the part that is unique, the part that is interesting, the part that is the source of momentum is not the what or the how… it’s the who and the why.  

This is why last week’s Weekly Report theme was so important, which we don’t focus on enough.  It’s the appreciation of the people. 

Yes, both in strategy and in culture.  In the way of doing business and the way of leading your team.

Now, I’m about to tell you a little secret to all of this.  

Here’s the interesting part… you often leave out the one person who matters most in the whole deal – in terms of appreciation and gratitude, value and self-worth – you, the doctor.

In fact, the pride you have about who you are the better you will be at what you do.  

I can link the success of a doctor, team, and practice directly with their pride in who they are, what their practice stands for, and how they deliver their value to patients.  Ultimately, this will determine how easy or difficult it is to influence others to champion your mission and follow your lead.

When you think about any business you’ve gone to lately, I hoped you noticed something – whether a retail store or restaurant, a grocery or when traveling, or even online – human engagement is coming back.  

There is a return of the expectation to be guided, to have a live human to talk with, to be treated like a person.  The bigger the company the more they try to remove it but the better the business the more they are going out of their way to elevate it.

You should too.  In fact, you should be asking yourself… if we really appreciate our patients what can we do to show them that more?  

Our industry has been overrun with the idea that if you see more patients, expand your space, increase your team, and extend your hours you will automatically make more money.

Of course, the opposite is true.  It’s the difference between process or people.  Seeing patients or growing relationships.  Turning over visits or accomplishing something of meaning.

It’s a question of what drives you.  The who or the what?  The why or the how?

Here’s something fun to do, especially this time of year, write a letter to your team and one to your patients and just share with them how you feel.  Express your gratitude and thank them for making your mission possible.  For giving what you do purpose and meaning.  For being the most valuable part of your practice.

And use this to remind them of your why.  Why you became a dentist, why you have created this place, why you create their pathways to health.

During this process, you’ll also be reminding yourself of your own value and the significance you play in their lives.

Trust me, when you see their responses, it will ignite a fire, turn up the flame, and continue to fuel your forward. After all, a practice is powered by the who and the why, not the what and the how.

I don’t care who you are, you can only get so excited and stay so motivated by the ‘what’ for so long.  It will ebb and flow, come and go, through challenges and victories. 

However, when you remember your why and you re-spark your passion for the who… you’ll never have a day without purpose and meaning.

Which leads to our topic for next week that is all about how to live out your gratitude by showing yourself just how thankful and appreciative you are for being you and living a life of your own design.

If you’ve done more than just read but really thought about this Weekly Report then you should have all the motivation you could ever need to continue your mission, fulfill your purpose, and live your why.

When someone asks you ‘why dentistry,’ stand tall and share your passion for patients, your gratitude for your team, and your pride for who you are.

As you head into the week of Thanksgiving and you reflect on what you’re grateful for, be reminded of all those you’ve helped and all that you’ve become.

If there were ever a day that represents what I’m talking about here, it’s this one, because it is and always will be less about the what and the how, and much more about the who and why.  

Happy Thanksgiving