I was reading Craig Wilson’s article, Final Word: Fall down on diet, friends will know. Allow me to summarize it.
“It appears the we-must-all-be-on-a-diet world has gone even crazier. How a $60 billion a year industry just keeps churning along is testament to how obsessed we all can be. I just read there’s a new gadget released this summer that takes this weight loss obsession to a higher level. It’s called Virtual Fridge Lock: a giant red magnet that you can sync with your social networks and stick on your refrigerator door. Yep, if you open the door while the “lock” is activated, it sends an alert to all your social networks so your “friends” and “followers” will know you’re cheating and allegedly offer to help.”
I know you’re thinking: What could this possibly have to do with anything dental? Think back to the day of dental school graduation. You’re no longer a student with some pot-bellied, also ran proctor looking over your shoulder, and now you have the diploma to prove it. Yes, you’re “just barely” not dangerous, but still, it’s a brand new world full of possibilities and expectations. Now fast forward to today. It’s been years since that fine day and most of us are not the doctor or practice we thought we would be. We turned out to be just “average”. Ole L.D. Pankey called the average doctor “the best of the worst or the worst of the best”. Any way you look at it, no one ever graduated from school wanting to be just average. How does it happen? We start with great expectations and finish with no money, no choices, at least one divorce, a hangover, and a mediocre practice that will be very difficult to sell for retirement. What would we, or could we, have ended up being if we had some type of digital watch dog keeping track of our poor decisions or, even worse, our indecisions. Imagine the weight of accountability if everyone we graduated with or treated as a patient knew instantly when we fell off our track to become the dentist we always wanted to be. How would it have all turned out “if only”?
I want to take a moment and give you a peak at the actions of the “mediocre” dentist or practice. Be honest, look at yourself and your practice and see if you have slipped into the habit of taking the path most traveled rather than living an intentional life leading to excellence. It goes something like this: “If you want to be just average all you have to do is:”
1. Do the minimum required. I don’t know what it’s like in your universe but no one I know that ever set their standard at the lowest level of “get by” ever made anything of themselves. If you aren’t getting at least 30 new patients a month with a 50-60% overhead you are coasting.
2. Wait till the last minute. Unless you just crawled out from under a rock, you are at least aware that we are hopefully at the tail end of one of the worst economic corrections in the history of the US, and it’s not over. Sticking your head in the sand and waiting this thing out will not work. Too often we procrastinate about taking any positive action until all we have left is just survival. The “business of dentistry” rewards those that act and act now. The average practice will be just another statistic.
3. Accept mistakes as part of life. There used to be a character in the newspaper comic strip, ‘Lil Abner, whose name was Joe Btfsplk, the world’s most loving friend and worst jinx who always travels with a dark cloud over his head. This is the image I have of the “average” dentist. Yes, you will make mistakes, but your reaction should be to never make it again. Learn from it and if you are going to fail, at least fail forward. Those simple souls that expect to fail will never dare to win. Don’t be average, do much more that the minimal, do it today, and don’t accept mistakes as if they were the norm.
4. Let someone else do it. The average guy would be the first one on the scene of an accident only to watch, thinking someone else will rescue the victim. Nike had it right: ”Just Do It”. No excuses. Stop being the “but I” person. The one that woulda, coulda, shoulda, “but I __________” (insert any lame excuse you want). I always loved the sign in Gold’s Gym: “You’re mom doesn’t work here. Pick up your own weights”. I’m sorry, but I just don’t have much sympathy for the observers in life. The doctors that embrace complacency and procrastination thinking that all they have to do is show up physically and the world will reward them for their mediocre effort. By far, the most frequent call I get is some young doctor who is not committed enough and persistent enough to go ahead and open an office, or an older doctor who can’t believe his/her inability to save, strive, or focus means he/she will never have financial options in his/her life.
I hope you get the message. Most of us need that push, shove, and some accountability to get us off the recliner in order to be proactive about making things happen in our lives and practices. If you need a “virtual lock”, or some real accountability backed by over 35 years of experience helping doctors all over the US, give me a call and let’s talk about helping you become that practice you always thought you would be.
Michael Abernathy, DDS