If you’ve been hearing about the newest seminar in Dentistry changing lives, practices, and futures, you’re hearing about the “180 Degree Dental Journey”. I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce you to just a bit of the underlying philosophy and direction of the seminar.
For many years, we have felt that a majority of dentists, staffs, and practices have been operating with a fatal flaw, a failed perspective, a view that if left unaltered, guaranteed a slow death spiral for their practices. This limiting belief holds them back from realizing success in their practices and security for their futures. Once presented with the realities that this seminar teaches, we continued to hear the same response. Hundreds of doctors and staffs feel like they belonged to the “NETMA” club (Nobody Ever Tells Me Anything). Truth is people are lying to you, and if you’re listening to the wrong person, it could cost you your careers. That’s why we took years to actually lay out the “180 Degree Dental Journey”, a seminar designed to break those flaws in strategy and replace them with solid systems and a new found perspective on unlimited growth in any economy.
Ignorance is not just what we don’t know; it’s also what we do know that isn’t so and most of all, what we don’t know that we don’t know. Accept this statement and a lot of what we do each day is based on false or unknown data. For the most part, what scares me isn’t what you know, but what you think you know. This thought process creates a perspective that at best clouds the way you look at your business, finances, systems, and staffing. At worst, it directs you down a path leading away from success.
Let’s start at the beginning and allow me to lay out the structure of how “change” works. It is my assertion that everyone needs a “180 Degree Mindset”. Think about why you do what you do. Realize that “why” we do something or follow some strategy may be flawed. The problem is you may never know until late in your careers. Be willing to make adjustments in your course of actions. Most of us base our actions on past experiences. We use our own history to plan for the future. We base our strategies on what we know through experience. “It only makes sense to do whatmakes you feel safe”. There may be a problem though. What if the last several decades, the history that we use to base our decisions on, is an aberration? Instead of being normal, the last few decades have been the exception rather than the rule. If this is true, and I believe I can statistically make a strong case for this, everything you know will direct you to make the wrong decisions in business. Add to that the rate of change that we face in dentistry, technology, science, and consumerism and you have a formula for disaster. If you’re just beginning a career, you at least have not created habits that are so ingrained that they may prevent you from making the necessary changes in order to correct your course. The normal practice will have years of experiences that are both good and bad, systems that once worked well when circumstances were different. Many have a fear of failure and a lack of goal setting which means they have to make a huge “effort” to just recognize the need “before” it is too late. They have to stop the momentum that carries them away from where they need to go, stop, make a course correction, and begin to accelerate again. All the time, trying to break the habits that got them to where they are in the first place.
Let’s look at our practices like a Physics problem. Let’s see how change and directions of effort are affected by our choices.
1. Correction Recognition: Change only happens when you have identified a need. In addition, this need has to be more important than the emotional challenge you face to make the change. This is huge. As a society, you could generalize that people spend more money, time, and effort avoiding what they really need to do than just doing it. Think about all the products that guarantee you flatter abs, a sexier body, or quick weight loss that people line up to buy instead of just exercising and cutting down on what they put in their mouths. You have to want the change more than your fear of the pain associated with actually doing it. Fear is a powerful emotion that most of us will struggle to tame. Subverting fear is the mark of a good leader. Just do it. Regret is way overarated. Kind of like removing a bandaid on your hairy extremity. Do you want to do it slowly or quickly? This is an assumption that every attendee to the “180 Degree Dental Journey” has made.
They accept the fact that there is a powerful need to change. They recognize they are falling short on results, and they’re ready to put on their big girl panties and deal with it. They are tired of mediocrity. They want more: They want Purpose, Prosperity, and Peace of Mind. This need will take the form of lack of results, new patients, poor strategies, and profitability. These are all symptoms of a deeper problem. A lack of or wrong direction of effort. That’s why we all need to have a 180 Degree Mindset.
2. Direction of Effort: We are all doing what we do and getting what we get. If you think about it, our systems are precisely designed to give us the results we are getting. Our results attest to our success or failure in business. Belief and excuses don’t matter: Only results count. So each of our practices is headed in a certain direction: Schedules, systems, staffing, fees, profitability and production yielding us a result or, in this case, a profit or lack of one. If you want a different result, you will need to direct your effort in a different direction. Working harder or longer will not help. If you want a different result then you have to go to “different” to get there. What scares me is that most doctors, staffs, and offices are a lot like Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Remember the part where Alice is running through the woods trying to escape and there are paths and roads everywhere. She comes upon the Cheshire cat floating in the air and asks: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” The Cheshire cat answers: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice responds: “I don’t much care where.” To which the Cheshire says: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go”. This is the problem. Where do you want to go? Even better, “where do you want to end up?” Your choices today will make that destination either occur or move out of your reach. This is a huge question you will be able to answer after the seminar. For the first time in most of your careers you will see clearly, you will become intentional about everything you do in your practice, you will control your destiny.
3. Momentum: So we’re going in a particular direction at some speed. Maybe fast or maybe slow. Momentum is just speed and mass moving and resisting change. The speed and momentum will either allow you to make a fast or slow change in direction. The faster you’re moving in one direction, the more difficult it is to alter course. Move fast and try to change quickly and you may crash. If you’re going 180 degrees in the wrong direction, you will have to pull a lot G’s in order to turn and accelerate in a different direction. A small course correction is easier, but any change is difficult. Every change is challenging, and you need to actually know which way you need to go.
4. Mass: How big is your practice? The larger the office, the more staff, hours, facility and patients, the more difficulty you will find turning towards the new direction you wish to take. Think of an ocean liner verses a canoe. Ocean liners may take five miles to actually slow and make a turn. A canoe can turn on a dime (less mass and less speed). Be aware that fighting speed, mass, and momentum are difficult and it takes a lot of intentional effort. You should also realize that it is not just your decision. Your staff has to have the same paradigm shift in order to be engaged in the process of change. If you think you can do it by yourself, think again.
5. Action or Response to the Problem: It’s not enough to just realize the need for change. You have to do something about it. I would have to say that I have seen far too many doctors who agree they are not where they want to be, but still fail to act. What does it take for you to actually be engaged in creating the optimized dental practice through sound practice management and statistical analysis? What prevents 95% of the practices and their doctors from “launching” or actually doing something about it? In order to learn, you need to first listen, then you need to actually hear what you are being told. Many listen but never hear. Once you hear, then you must believe what you have heard. Believing will then lead to action. This speed of action is what separates the winners from the rest of the pack.
6. Speed of change: Complete commitment with no hesitation or procrastination is the order of the day. Set your course and move quickly to correct the direction of your effort. Everything needs to change. It needs to be a full court press. You need to be relentless about pursuing your new direction. Acting isn’t enough if it takes years for you to actually get a different result. A day should not go by without you taking specific actions that create specific results. You have to become a leader for your team. Become a “change master” by embracing change while guarding those things you consider to be core in your practice philosophy.
7. Results: If you think about it, results, or the lack of them, is what started this process in the first place. You need goals, and measurable results to tell you if you’re on course. Results allow you to make adjustments based on fact, not feelings. If you’re not getting the results you want, it’s time to make a course correction. It will not get better by itself. Think about it. If you were traveling North on a highway but you should really be going South, each second you keep going, you move further from the goal. It will take longer to get back to the starting point before you can make a better result happen. Step back and see if you are on the right track. If not, act to make the course correction you need. Become a person with a 180 Degree Mindset.
8. Course Correction: Like sailing, your course is never a straight line. True, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but straight lines in life are rare indeed. You will need to make corrections. In sailing when we want to go from point A to point B, we are always heading for the destination, but we have to tack back and forth across the wind in order to continue to travel toward our destination. Some days there is not much course correction or tacking. Other days you spend a lot of time fighting your surroundings before you ultimately land at your destination. Sometimes a good skipper or a better boat makes the difference. Most of the time it is just dogged persistence to getting where you want to go: Stick to the basics and keep the destination in sight, and never stray from your desired course.
There are two things we have not considered. First, this paradigm shift of “acceptance of change” has to be embraced by not just the doctor, but everyone. It is the “weakest link syndrome”: You will go no farther than the one individual with the lowest commitment to your goal. That means that you cannot tolerate a mediocre staff or lack of engagement by everyone. What you allow you encourage. Let just one person drift away from a 100% commitment and you will always fail. The Gallup group did a survey of corporate America and found that 67% of all employees are not only unaengaged in their jobs but are actively sabotaging your business. It’s painful to make the difficult decisions, but impossible to make the changes you need to make without them. You must get used to recognizing blockages and dealing with them quickly and decisively. Decide right now that nothing will stand in your way of making the changes that will alter your course to a new level of productivity and profitability: No system, or staff person, family member, or even yourself. Nothing will keep you from succeeding. This commitment must be an all or nothing attitude.
The second area we need to visit is the “perception of the need for change” by the doctor or owner of the practice. Each of us perceives “need” a little differently. Think about a quarterback and his passing prowess. During the heat of a game he throws an interception, loosing the game. In retrospect he believes that his choice to make the throw to that receiver at that time was not a “poor decision”, it was simply poor “execution”. With this flawed thinking he will focus to improve his mechanics and technique rather than his flawed thinking. If this is the case, he may choose to make the same mistake again until he finally realizes it was a poor decision and not poor execution. He has the opportunity to learn, to correct his mistakes, or based upon faulty analysis he will repeat them. Often time the poor analysis and faulty thinking results in him being removed from the position and replaced with someone who gets better results. This is true in Dentistry as well. It is as if most of us just can’t see the obvious, so we continue to take the wrong path with flawed actions finding we continue to get poor results. I wish I had a magic wand and could remove this overapowering desire to think that you are going to get a different result while doing the same thing over and over again. What if I could induce amnesia in you, but it only affected your history and reasons for practicing the way you currently do. Back at work with this amnesia you would still have the skills of a gifted dentist but with no negative baggage. On that first day, with a clean slate, what would you choose to do, how would you decide to practice? With no history, would the obvious just leap out at you? Would you select a different path? Would you get a better result?
We need to somehow create in you a “habit of change”. An “if it ain’t broke, break it” type of attitude. We all change, and change will occur in one of three ways.
1. You choose to change. You are one of those rare individuals that structure your life in such a way as to never be satisfied with the status quo. You understand that it is impossible to coast. You are either improving or you’re losing ground. You make more correct decisions than incorrect ones. Even when you fail, you go at it again while making a course correction, and a new dedication to get it right next time. Take note here: This type of person does not feel like a temporary failure or blockage has anything to do with their self-image. They still believe they are good people with integrity and a great work ethic. Set backs don’t mean you are a failure personally. Everyone struggles. In fact, an expert is often defined as an individual who has failed more times than anyone else in his or her chosen field of endeavor. You only fail if you don’t get up and go at it again. There is a great book written by John McGee called Man’s Search for Significance. Its premise is that Satan’s greatest lie is that your performance + other people’s opinions = your self worth. Operate from this lie and you face a lifetime of disappointment and grief.
2. You are persuaded to change. This happens in one of two ways. Both ways arrive at a tipping point of action or response. Obviously, the speed of recognition and action determine the winners in life.
a. Logical persuasion: You or someone else presents a factual, logical progression of information that leaves only one sensible or possible conclusion: I need to change or I will suffer the consequences. It makes sense and any intelligent person would choose to go ahead and take the plunge. You then act.
b. Forced persuasion: Bankruptcy, lack of patients, no production or profit: A do or die situation in which you have to act or leave the profession. Believe it or not, we see a lot of these. Like it or not, it is the doctors fault. They chose the actions that created the result that they find themselves in.
Let me give you a few fatal assumptions that I hear every day.
- It will get better (It may not for you)
- It’s the poor economy (A lot of our clients are having the best month they ever had. In any economy or location you find someone doing well.)
- My circumstances are different (this is usually followed by how they are doing everything right)
- I need to be patient (never, never, never, say this. You need to do something different NOW.)
- Patients will come back soon (Are you kidding me? They will never come back. They found someone who takes their insurance, has consumer hours, charges reasonable fees, offers services that you don’t, cleans teeth on the first appointment, etc., and they find ways to make their dentistry affordable).
These “false assumptions” are limiting beliefs. If you hold a limiting belief long enough, it becomes truth for you. Once it is truth, it holds you captive and prevents you from being able to see the truth of your circumstances.
This is the point where I find most doctors and practices: Mediocre results over decades of practice creating layers of habits compensating for a lot of limiting beliefs. I guess I always thought or hoped that if I presented a seminar with all of the answers, these offices would take the solutions and use them to better their situation. I truly want to save these practices from having to use trial and error to finally arrive at a predictable solution that yields consistent results. I was wrong. The problem was, after two decades of doing seminars, books and articles, I find that only 3a5% of those offices will actually take the information and use it to optimize their practices. That means over 90% of those who have read, heard, and been shown the way fail or choose not to take advantage of this opportunity. We can give you a plan, all the tools you need to make it work, decades of history to show it works all over the US, and you still struggle to implement. Why?
The “why” is the reason for the “180 Degree Dental Journey” and mindset. It’s not your fault that the entire educational system has been designed to create a matrix that turns out dentists who, by their very nature, are ill suited to become successful in their chosen field. Think about it. You have to have the money, desire, and smarts to be successful in college. Only the students with the best grades get into graduate school, but success after dental school is based on an extroverted social personality that exudes caring and compassion along with being good with your hands. Dental schools today and in the past have failed miserably to pick the best candidates. They pick the candidates with the best grades. If the truth were known, probably most of the “C” students that were the social center of activities would do better at dentistry or any other consumer driven businesses than most of the current graduates. Our selection process along with the didactic teaching process guarantees that you end up with a socially challenged doctor with a poor self image, no business sense, a limited set of people skills and a dogged determination to not adapt or make changes. The super practices that you always read or hear about are the exception to the rule: The 1% that has the whole ball of wax. They “get it” and are engaged in embracing change in order to adapt to the constantly moving target of the consumer, and they are doing it well. The problem is, you only hear about the great ones. The other 99% of us are the silent majority. Here comes that limiting belief again. You begin to think that if Dental Economics writes about some superstar runway model turned exceptionally successful multi-million dollar dentist, that everybody is doing well except you. This is the “Brown Pasture” syndrome where you believe everybody else has it better than you. That is the furthest thing from the truth. If fact, I know most of those super doctors, and all of them struggle, too. Even Superman had his Kryptonite. Bottom line: We all struggle and we all fall short. The good ones get up and alter their effort and course when that happens. The rest of them languish in mediocrity for their entire career. I am here to tell you that regardless of where you have been, where you are, or where you would like to go, we have an answer for you and a strategy that will work.
We cover all of this in the first 20 minutes of the 180 Degree Dental Journey seminar. Then, we begin to restructure every system in your office with a 180 Degree Mindset. You will never look at your practice the same way again. For the first time your staff and practice will evolve into a business capable of unlimited growth regardless of where you are, or where you’ve been. It’s a new day with new answers. In addition to the seminar, we will follow up the presentation with hundreds of pages of additional information for you to digest and act on. The best news is that it’s FREE. You heard it right, it does not cost a thing, no one will try to sell you anything, and you have nothing to lose but the cost of travel and a hotel room. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, call me or Max or Click Here reserve your place for the next seminar.
Michael Abernathy, DDS