Christmas and grandkids reminded me of days gone by when on Christmas Eve (usually some time past midnight) I would finally resort to reading the disclaimer on the box of some toy I was struggling to assemble that said: “Some Assembly Required”. By this point, I’m tired and know that in less than 6 hours my kids will be knocking on the bedroom door to arouse me in order to see what Santa brought them. For those less fortunate who have never faced the dilemma of “some assembly required”, it means that short of a college minor in mechanical and/or electrical engineering and every specialty tool that Sears Craftsman sells, this is not going to happen. You sit there with some 300 pieces of plastic and metal surrounding you, and according to the picture on the box it should actually be a fully functioning “whatchamacallit” ready to be used and abused by your over indulged kids on Christmas morning. You are now accepting the fact that there is not one mechanical gene in your body. Already you realize that coming up short is beginning to be a habit and believe it or not, you don’t care.
Yep, been there, done that. The interesting part is that at your lowest point of disgust, when you realize once again you have waited till the last minute, and even reproduced the same miserable result from last year, you still have the choice of never letting this happen again. Next year you could:
1. Take a course or two and become slightly less inept.
2. Stop procrastinating and begin the process earlier so that as problems arise, you are not working against a deadline and probable failure. In other words, you have created a cushion and backup plan that with the right timing allows you to succeed while giving you options before time runs out.
3. Finally, you could select what many will find to be the best and most predictable solution, and just buy the product completely and expertly fully assembled.
With this in mind, let’s take the time to look at your practice, that from all outward appearances, never quite got assembled this past year. In fact, it’s a little like ground hog day, or same song, second verse. Every year seems to fly by with unmet goals and fewer financial options and more regrets. For some of you, you got close, but close only counts in hand grenades and atomic bombs. If your practice is like a toy, it has to be put together exactly the way it looks on the box: No left over parts, and no “almost” assembly counts. You either put it all the way together or once again came up short.
So let’s take a look at our three choices from above but look at it with the idea that it is your practice.
1. This year you could take a course or two with the idea of increasing your knowledge of dentistry. Sounds logical, but I think you did that last year and nothing changed. The average dentist will always pick the wrong strategy because they will always be drawn to the very course or technology that makes them feel comfortable. You need a course that challenges your sensibilities and past choices. If you want to go to another level of practice excellence, you have to go to “different”. This is the year to finally realize and act on a path totally different from where you have been. We already know that historically it is possible that you are making the wrong choices. It’s time for a fresh perspective and a new game plan.
2. Starting earlier in the year to make decisions and follow through would give you a cushion of time and choices to hopefully come up with the right strategy to make this year different from the last. Once again, great idea, but just like last New Year’s resolution for weight loss and exercise, by March you had already gained 5 pounds more than when you began the diet. Life is insidious in its simplicity. We all have habits and limiting beliefs that rule our decision making process. Our schedules are full and to take on one more task or goal is daunting at best. Yes, this can work, but most often we come up short and once again it will be Christmas Eve, a time that should be for reflecting on our many blessings, yet our thoughts run to the bitter reality of “same old, same old”: Nothing new happened, no new choices available, and we’re back to making the same old commitments that we never really expect to achieve.
3. Buying the completely assembled product from the expert that does it all day long may be the most economical, time efficient, guaranteed successful strategy that anyone could make. In dentistry, we constantly see doctors struggle and in some ways just resign themselves to a mediocre career. For whatever reason, we as a group just can’t seem to grasp the idea that in every other area of the business world: You don’t have to recreate the wheel. Businesses buy the time of experts to insure their success in their industry. They seek out and are willing to pay for a competitive advantage. In dentistry, it is possible to actually buy a head start or the finished product. We consistently see doctors that make huge leaps in productivity while lowering their overhead and stress. Consider a tiny step in moving forward this New Year by allowing me about an hour or two to show you every blockage that you are currently facing and how to go about fixing them. No cost, just a couple of hours of your time over the phone. Give me a call and I will forward you a short two-page spread sheet to be filled out by your front desk along with a request for a P&L for 2012 and a copy of one week’s schedule. The minute I receive this information we can set up a call that will rock your world. You have nothing to lose but a few minutes of your time and the commitment to actually do something that has worked for hundreds of doctors and practices over the last three decades. These doctors acted to insure that next year and every year thereafter would never end up looking like your living rooms do at midnight on Christmas Eve. So take a minute and email me so we can get started on the best year of your career.
Michael Abernathy, DDS