Each morning, a new day dawns filled with both challenge and opportunity – and if you’re one of the few, the proud who honor and respect this noble profession, more accurately the “calling” of Private Practice Dentistry, you’ll see it as yet another chance to roll up your sleeves and make many good things happen.
But when that day ends, the stadium clears, and the scoreboard clock winds down to zero, what can you as head coach point to as the key factor in assessing the final tally?
Was it the amount of busyness experienced inside the walls of your practice? The flurry, the hubbub, the rush from patient to patient, the mad dash to fully pack the day with activity? Was it all about the “doing” of the stuff we call Dentistry?
I guarantee it wasn’t, not by a long shot, even though this sort of expectation and analysis does mesh well with what’s considered conventional wisdom nowadays. Last week I noted the alluring call of the unceasing drumbeat – “more, more, more” – sucking you into a whirlpool of greater anxiety and effort, but ultimately to much less than fulfilling results.
The answer does not lie in more activity. Nirvana, Heaven, the Promised Land does exist, but it’s attainable only to those who recognize busyness as a symptom, not a strategy. The true path appears when you abandon Activity for Accomplishment. Tasks for Results.
Actions for OUTCOMES.
What does it matter if you invest minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years into activities that fail to move the needle either for your patient’s ultimate health or your practice’s financial future?
Back when Microsoft was king of the hill, someone calculated that if Bill Gates spotted a $100 bill on the ground, it wouldn’t have been worth his time to stop and pick it up. It’s a perfect illustration of the importance of time and the mindset we must rigorously develop, nurture, and guard against every assault.
Greatness doesn’t just happen, it rises and grows and thrives in an environment where it’s both welcomed and nurtured, which is why it’s so rarely embraced or seen. And a misguided focus and over-attention on filling every moment of every day with “something/anything,” regardless of strategic value, is why so few doctors – probably 20% or less – experience true greatness via a practice designed from the ground up around their goals, dreams, and values, while the other 80% remain mired in mediocrity and frustration.
The secret, the key, the true North Star for this kind of practice requires persistent FOLLOW-THROUGH on all fronts, an all-hands-on-deck effort that involves every team member pulling for every patient to ensure no one gets left behind.
The greatest reason why such a team, even though fully empowered, fully engaged, fully in line with the greater mission and greater good, would fail to achieve overwhelming success – boils down to one simple reality of life and existence.
It’s a universal law, noted by Newton, that a body in motion will stay in motion and a body at rest will stay at rest. Thus, every team and every individual has an inherent, natural, tendency to quit too early… stop short… give up… when the moment demands otherwise.
And the demands of each moment, when viewed objectively and outside the fog of “busyness for the sake of busyness,” require focus and energy and total integrity to ensure that the greater goal is never sacrificed or left to wither on the vine.
We must make certain a patient’s far better tomorrow doesn’t get shortchanged by a shortsighted fixation on doing merely what insurance will fully cover and then no more, regardless of the ultimate consequences. This means committing to complete health treatment planning without scrimping or cutting corners or letting them wander off without the wise counsel they need to make wise decisions.
How does this play out in what happens in the moment?
With every patient interaction outside your practice – from that initial phone call, the very first time they speak with a team member who listens to their needs, answers their questions, and makes sure they are embraced into the fold as a real human being whom you’d never abandon to randomly disappear into oblivion.
With every conversation within your practice – as you establish the triangle of trust for that patient so they know they will be served at the highest level of compassion, professionalism, and care every step of their journey to comprehensive health.
With every interaction regarding money – ensuring total clarity about not only responsibility, but also the ultimate value brought into that patient’s life – far beyond “clean, drill, and fill” – instead, constantly reaffirming a transformational vision of just how much better health and life and self-worth can become.
These aren’t merely instances of one-off banter between doctor, team, and patient – they reflect a dedicated commitment to follow through to ensure that what’s been promised actually takes place: from the smallest commitment to the greatest. Full on integrity from beginning to end, alpha to omega.
What I’m referring to goes beyond a few platitudes or even motivational posters on the wall. This must be embedded deep within culture, expressed in every action of every day. From the morning huddle to the daily wrap-up, there must be follow-up on commitments made to assess progress towards accomplishments and results.
Ultimately, it’s your hand at the wheel. Therefore, the bottom line is that you must think through where you yourself are taking things too easy, where you yourself are giving away too much control.
This isn’t about micromanaging or inserting yourself into every interaction and decision. It’s about making a stand to make sure what’s promised equals what’s delivered – and that’s the very minimum acceptable standard.
Thus, we come to what I call: “The Biggest Decision You Will Ever Make in Your Professional Life…”
Don’t just do what’s easy, do what matters.
Apply this to your Team…
Apply this to all your Relationships…
Apply this to the Comprehensive Health you provide…
And most importantly of all…
Apply this to your GOALS… because they provide the focal point for every decision and every action.
This brings me to the critical understanding that not every “action, goal, responsibility” is equal or worth the same. Seek wisdom and clarity to recognize what matters most. You’re only able to follow through to your utmost ability on opportunities of the absolute highest value by removing or minimizing that which is of low value.
RUN THROUGH THE FINISH LINE in everything you deem worthy enough to say, commit to, and do – go all in on everything that matters most. Every moment is precious. Once gone, it’s gone forever. Do not allow it to pass unappreciated and undervalued. Maximize each and every one.