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Dental practice management: Finding beauty among the weeds

May 12, 2023
In life, we encounter many weeds—things that drain our energy and make us feel inadequate. Here are five steps to help you see the positive.

Weeds. We don’t like them. They mess up our gardens, and they always seem to be more persistent than the plants we’re trying to cultivate. We get rid of them when they wind up in places they’re not supposed to be, because they take up precious energy from the plants we’re trying to grow.

Throughout life’s journey, we encounter many weeds along the way—situations that drain our energy and make us feel inadequate. Things such as:

  • The unexpected loss of a job
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Diagnosis of an incurable disease
  • Unsupportive family or friends

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There are weeds in our dental practices, too. They tend to pop up in the form of:

  • High staff turnover
  • Difficulty attracting the right type of patients
  • Lack of systems
  • Insurance woes
  • Team dysfunction

These weeds encroach on our happiness and derail us from our purpose, but only if we let them. We do not have to let the weeds in our lives take over. We can control them. Because amidst the weeds, there is beauty.

Rounding up the weeds

To take control and tame the weeds in our practices, we need to look at our business and ask ourselves a question: “What is my why?” Take a hard look at the answer to this question. It will vary from practice to practice. We all know we’re here to take care of the health of our patients, but what is the true driving purpose of our practice? The answer to this question should inspire everyone on the team every single day to do the right things to steer our businesses properly. 

Let’s take a look at your team.

Who are your beauties? You know them—they brighten your day the minute you walk into the office. They exude an energy that draws people in.

Now, who are your weeds? They’re ones who find wrong in everything no matter how good things are. They’re constantly trying to drag everyone down so they will feel better about themselves.

Successful, happy people have one thing in common: resilience. They’ve all developed this quality that’s allowed them to get up, dust themselves off, and push forward toward their goals.

Becoming resilient

To become more resilient, we can take these five steps in our lives:

  1. Set goals. In the next 14 days, set six goals for yourself—three personal and three business. Write these goals down, create a timeline, research how to achieve them, and share them with someone who will be your cheerleader. Make sure these goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
  2. Create a mission statement. Your mission statement should be a clear and inspiring picture of what you want your business to become. Everyone in the practice should have input. It should guide your actions and decisions and help you stay focused on what is important.
  3. Surround yourself with support. Find a mentor, a coach, or a support group of people who can help you stay motivated and on track. They can provide valuable insights, advice, and encouragement when you need it most.
  4. Don’t quit. Working on ourselves is tough. Sometimes we lose our way, get off track, or just want to throw our hands in the air and be done with everything. But doing things the way you have always done them will continue to bring you the results that have made you miserable in the first place. If you stumble and fall, get back up, brush yourself off, and start again. Celebrate when you achieve a goal, then get back to work and set a new one. 
  5. Let go of the excuses. You and only you are responsible for the decisions you make. Period. If you decide you want to hold on to that one team member who causes everyone in your practice grief, that’s on you. If you want to let the insurance companies dictate how you run your own practice, that’s your decision. Let the weeds overtake your practice and your happiness? These are all excuses, and it’s your choice to hold on to them or let them go.

The weeds in my own life have been many, and so many of them have had a deep impact on me and how I’ve experienced and reacted to certain situations. There have been times I was told that the rest of my life was ruined and that I wouldn’t amount to anything. I could have let those weeds drag me down. Instead, I made the decision early on to use them to my advantage, to help me become stronger and push me to be better. 

I am the result of being pushed hard and pushing myself even harder, allowing me to become the person I am today. Thirty years ago, I had the dream of becoming a practice management coach. I find great satisfaction from helping doctors and teams become the best versions of themselves and providing optimal care to their patients.

Finding the beauty

We all encounter weeds, but it’s important to remember that there is still beauty among them. By taking control and taming the weeds, we can create a happier and more fulfilling life. The first decision you must make is whether you will allow the weeds in your life to consume you or make you stronger. 

You know what you need to do! Where will you begin weeding?