Courage and Gratitude in Dentistry

Dentistry, just like with any other business, requires courage. Whether it’s the first time you fill a patient’s cavity or the first practice you open, it requires a step into the unknown. In this blog post I discuss a few things to consider if you are feeling stuck or unhappy with your career.

My Guest Dr David Maloley  asks the question,“Am I choosing courage or comfort in this particular situation?. Let’s unpack it.

On the other side of courage.

Courage exists hand in hand with fear. To be courageous is to do something that scares you. We all have moments of self-doubt, but often stepping outside of your comfort zone is the key to growth.

Within a comfort zone everything is, well… Comfortable. You know the people around you and what’s expected of you. It’s easy, but it’s safe. When you step out of a familiar space, it opens you to new experiences, new relationships and new challenges.

Your most magical professional relationships will likely blossom out of connection with people that you respect at a high level. Meeting mentors, advisors, or idols is often an act of courage. Making that introduction or going to that conference can be a challenge, but facing the fear instead of taking a step back into comfort is how people excel.

And it doesn’t have to be the scariest thing you can dream up. Sometimes it’s a small hop – just stepping slightly out of your comfort zone. Other times it can feel like jumping off a cliff and hoping a parachute opens on the way down. But it’s all on the other side of courage.

The rewards can be amazing. The places we fear the most contain the real treasure. Sometimes you have to choose to inflict a little bit of pain to find those gems. That’s where growth happens.

Quit looking for a quick fix.

It’s human nature to want to find a fast solution to our problems or our wants. That’s probably why infomercials still exist. Any sort of transformational product or service is so incredibly tempting because who doesn’t want to level up without years of dedicated effort?

The differentiator of high performers compared to the rest of the population is endurance. They have made peace with the mundane and can push through it. They aren’t looking for a quick fix. They have stopped looking for the transformational marketing tactic, the transformational hire, the transformational new procedure.

Instead, high performers chart a course. They are clear on what they want and they chip away at it. They aim to get a little better every day and those incremental changes over time turn into big changes. It goes back to a habitual nature. It’s not something they do on Friday afternoons. It’s something that they do every morning whether they feel like it or not.

This might be best shown in clinical skills. Pete Dawson worked hard to hone his clinical skills and now there’s the Dawson Academy so other new dentists can learn what he knows. Sometimes it can also show up in business. Rick Workman has 800 dental practices across the United States.

Courage is that extra step.

To bring it back around to courage, consider the decisions you make on a day-to-day basis. From getting dressed to whether you go to the gym to when you get to work, all of these micro-decisions ultimately build into the shape of your day. Then your days build into a week and then a month and then a year. During each of these micro decisions, we can always step forward into courage or back into comfort.

And it’s not the difference of one micro decision. High performers have the daily discipline to make the micro decisions into one little step forward into courage each time. It’s simply endurance to choose to practice skills when you don’t feel like it. It’s endurance to continue to walk the path you’ve charted even when it gets a little scary.

There’s a John Gardner quote that I go back to over and over again: “Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”  But David puts it all into perspective when he described high performance.

High achievers are not necessarily high performers.

I’m defining high performers as dentists with a strong cash flow, strong practices, and high achievement, but it also entails a decrease of stress, an increase in happiness, and a strong personal identity and personal control. For many high achievers, they are not happy. They are stuck in a rat race and they can’t find the way out. They continue to reach higher and higher levels, but at the expense of other things.

Everyone’s vision of success is different. Just like the two dentists I mentioned earlier, Pete Dawson and Rick Workman. Their images of success are wildly different, but no less inspiring.

It is important to know what success looks like to you. There are so many people caught in a rat race that makes them unhappy. There are many dentists that love the clinical work and expanding to 800 practices across the country sounds like a nightmare. That’s totally fine. Sit down and really take the time to understand, This is what I want and why I want it.

When you have clarity over your path, it becomes easier to make those micro decisions that align your choices with your career trajectory.

You may be on the wrong path by adding more volume, more partners, more associates. It’s important to know how your choices play into your end legacy.

Final Words…

Stepping forward confidently with courage to change your career path for the better takes work. It requires a fair amount of discipline daily, weekly, and monthly to become a high performer. We’re socialised into chasing dollars and growing for growth’s sake, but satisfaction only comes when you know the ‘why’ behind your actions. Clarity on your path and a little courage in your choices will help you avoid burnout as you grow.

P.S. Whenever you’re ready …. here are 4 ways I can help you grow your dental practice:

    1. Grab a free chapter from my book “Retention – How to Plug the #1 Profit Leak in Your Dental Practice”

    The book is the definitive guide to patient retention and how to use internal marketing to grow your practice – Click Here

    1. Join the Savvy Dentist community and connect with dentists who are scaling their practice too

    It’s our Facebook group where clever dentists learn to become commercially smart so that they have more patients, more profit and less stress. – Click Here

    1. Attend a Practice Max Intensive live event

    Our 2 day immersive events provide access to the latest entrepreneurial thinking and actionable strategies to drive your practice forward. You’ll leave with a game plan to take your results to the next level. If you’d like to join us, just send me a message with the word “Event and I’ll get you all the details!  – Click here

    1. Work with me and my team privately

    If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your profit from 6 figures to 7 figures …. just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your practice and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here

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