We dentists and our teams are pretty nice people. We work hard to please our clients and all things considered, do a pretty good job in a complicated world. Our traits generally serve us well, except one: we don’t like change, and neither does our team. Consider the following scenarios and the changes that they would require:
- You have a team member that is just not working out
- Being a fee-for-service practice is not working anymore
- You’re being sued for malpractice
- Your office location is no longer workable
- Your production is down despite “doing everything right”
- Your overhead is out of control and you have no choice but to cut employee benefits
I don’t think there’s a single one of us that relish making the necessary changes, yet we all know that those changes are necessary IF our practice (and our lives) is to flourish. Otherwise, well, we stay stuck until someone else makes a move for us. Staying stuck is called being in dilemma.
Dilemma is No-Man’s Land. What it feels like is I’m darned-if-I-do-darned-if-I-don’t. That’s not a great place to be.
Imagine you have an oak tree that’s immediately outside your front door. As you open the door to go to the office, BAM! – you hit your head on that tree. Ouch! So, you walk around the tree with a knot on your head and go onto work.
The next day, it’s time to leave, so out you go and BAM! – another knot on your head. You’re really getting tired of hitting your head each day, but what are you supposed to do? The oak tree is huge, you can’t move your house … what’s one to do? You certainly don’t like hitting your head on the tree, and you know something needs to be done.
Why do we keep banging our heads on the oak tree? Why don’t we chop it down, walk around it, or just go out a different door?
Taking the scenarios I listed above, how are you banging your head against the tree – or better, the issue or problem at hand? What keeps you in dilemma? More importantly, what’s stopping you from making change?
How many times have you put up with a team member who is under-performing, just not wanting to let the person go because of potential repercussions, an inability to find a replacement, or because you don’t feel you have the time to hire and train someone new to your practice?
Yes, I’ve done that. In fact, I did it for many years. It wasn’t pleasant for me or for anyone. When I did finally let that team member go, there was a collective sigh of relief from the entire team, and the lingering, obvious question was “Why did I wait so long to make that change?”
Fear is a funny thing. On one hand it’s somewhat important, as it keeps us on our toes, but on many other hands it serves no real purpose other than to keep us stuck.
I’ve had personal situations that felt so huge, so fearful, that doing anything about them seemed impossible, much like trying to walk through a foot-thick concrete wall. Then one day, things change, and I make a move. All of a sudden, that which I had feared the most and felt was impossible to get past, was now over with. It wasn’t hard at all. Why did I let fear hold me prisoner for so long?
What situations in your practice or your life do you feel stuck and unable to make a decision? Reading this article won’t have its best impact if you don’t work with it, so go ahead now and make that list.
For each item on that list, brainstorm as many possible solutions for each situation, making sure you have at least three solutions for each situation. Then, write down what is holding you back from making a change. For many situations, you’ll find that the fear of change is truly just in your head. For other situations, there may be concerns that you’ll have to work with longer.
However, know that staying stuck isn’t serving you or anyone around you. It’s sucking the life right out of you, making you angry, holding you back, and even damaging your practice.
Use your courage, your intuition, your brain, and common sense to make those changes that may frighten you. Once you make those changes, you’ll never look back, and better yet, you’ll likely not get into those situations again.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do that which you think you cannot do.”
I know you CAN do whatever you set out to do. Sometimes the cost of freedom from dilemma may seem high, but it pales in the rewards waiting for you on the other side of that wall.