Believe it or not, actors have a lot to teach us about what we do. Now, I’m not talking about movies or about the day-to-day practice of dentistry. (There aren’t many movies about dentists, and, let’s face it, Marathon Man doesn’t exactly paint us in a stellar light.) I’m talking about the craft of acting, the things that actors have to do to deliver an honest performance. Dentists and other small business owners can really learn from these techniques. When they are implemented properly, you could enjoy significant dental practice growth and more personal satisfaction.
“Objectives” are one of the first things that young actors learn about. If actors do not know what they want in a particular scene, they will simply look lost and ungrounded on stage or screen. When they get a new script, actors must begin with four simple questions:
- What is my overall goal for this play/film (superobjective)?
- What is my goal in each individual scene?
- How do I go about achieving each goal? What tactics do I use?
Answers should be as specific as possible. Only after they have answered these questions can they delve into the emotional lives of their characters.
When I am coaching my clients, I encourage them to take a similar approach. You cannot improve your practice until you know what you want and how you want to get there. Think of your dental business plan and your personal life as your “script.” Begin by writing down a superobjective for your life. It is ok to be intangible, as long as you are specific. For example, “I want to find peace and personal fulfillment” or “I want to love wholeheartedly” are both fine goals.
Then write down each area of your life where you want to improve. Think of each of these areas as a “scene.” Write down your objectives for each scene and your tactics for achieving those objectives.
Your list might look something like this:
- Practice team: I want to increase my team members’ happiness, personal fulfillment, and professional development. I will do this by holding biannual Growth Conferences, increasing team member training, and beginning each day with a Team Huddle.
- Practice marketing: I want to increase practice growth to meet my specific budget. I will do this by getting a better sign out front, building a new website, and hiring a PR specialist to reach more people.
- Increased patient compliance: I want to boost my patient compliance rate to at least 80% of recommended treatment and 100% of necessary treatment. I will do this by increasing in-office patient education, getting an exam room computer to display digital images, and learning how to identify the emotional needs of my patients.
- My relationship with my family: I want to be emotionally supportive of my spouse and to be present at all major milestones in my children’s lives. I will do this by setting aside at least one night a week as “date night” and by volunteering as an assistant coach for my son’s T-ball team.
- My inner peace and fulfillment: I want to reduce personal anxiety and reclaim my love for dentistry. I will do this by learning better time management skills, spending ten minutes each morning in quiet reflection, and going for a jog at least 5 times a week.
Of course, just as no two scripts are the same, no two lives are the same, either. Your scenes and objectives will be different from those of your colleagues. Think of a dental coach as the “director.” He can guide you in the process of script analysis, helping you break down the script into manageable scenes and identify achievable objectives for each.