In my work, I see many clients who are simply overwhelmed with the day-to-day business of dental practice management and clinical services. Many dentists tell me that they feel they are fighting a constant uphill battle. As soon as they overcome one challenge, another, bigger one arises to take its place. That’s when things go well. Just as often, my clients tell me that they feel like they are constantly climbing a steep mountain, yet they are never able to reach the top.
With some proper self-assessment and, often, the help of a dental coach, you can not only overcome the problems in your practice. You may discover that your concerns are less troublesome than you originally thought. Those mountains that you’ve been attempting to climb may, in fact, be molehills.
Cartography for Your Practice
Let’s face it. Even the most skilled mountain climber would net set off without a map of where he or she was going. In fact, the climber would probably try to find the most accurate and detailed map possible. He or she would also find weather reports, indicating storms ahead. In this way, the individual could plan for the best possible route, look for detours, and prepare for alternatives.
When you feel overwhelmed by problems in your practice, the first thing to do is to take stock of the situation. Write down exactly what is causing difficulties. Is it a problem with one of your team members? An inefficient scheduling system? Maybe you feel that there is no balance between your home and practice life. Perhaps you are a natural worrier. It’s okay to write down the difficulties you fear will arise. In fact, I encourage it. When you acknowledge potential future problems, you can plan a course of action, much like a mountain climber who marks out several routes in the event of an emergency. As always, I encourage specificity. The more precise the map, the more accurate your route.
Scaling the Mountains and Leveling Molehills
Once you have created a map of difficulties and potential problems, you can determine the best way to overcome these obstacles. The great thing is that, as you develop solutions, you may find that the things you thought were mountains are actually tiny little molehills. In these cases, a simple course of action can flatten the molehill and simply your life. (Please note, I do not encourage violence to animals, moles included.)
To determine the optimal solutions, ask yourself the following questions:
- Out of the problems I have listed, which ones are the most urgent?
- Can I delegate any problem solving tasks to my team?
- Is there a common thread running through each of these problems?
- Which of these issues need to be addressed with my team?
- Is there are problem for which I should publicly accept responsibility?
- What specific course of action can I take to change each of these problems? What is my time frame and how will I hold myself and my team accountable for the change?
Once you have honestly and precisely answered these questions, even an “unclimbable” peak will become a manageable, although perhaps strenuous, hike. That’s ok. A little exercise makes you stronger, anyway.