So many dentists have been asking us, “How are the teams you’ve been working with managing this crisis? It seems as though they have persevered in the face of so many challenges. What’s the secret?”
I spent a few minutes sitting down with Kirk this week, asking him some questions about what has made so many dentists and teams successful in this crazy year! Short answer, they made the decision to opt out of the pandemic mindset and stayed focused on progress.
Jenni: Thanks for spending this time with me, Kirk. So let’s jump right in. While some offices have been slowing down, others have consistently stayed busy and are even growing. What do you attribute that to?
Kirk: In coaching dental practices throughout the country, it seems like even now, in pandemic times, people are subscribing to one of two mindsets; one is a mindset where they're fearful, and the other is the growth mindset. We teach about the importance of this growth mindset in our coaching process. Even when things are great, it's always about how to keep improving? How do we keep evolving? How do we keep developing? So when we look at practices that we're coaching currently who are crushing it, they all ask the same thing. “Ok, What can we do?” They're not focused on what they can't do; they’re focused on what they can do. They're developing this in their team culture. They’re talking to patients. They're educating patients. They're talking about the future. The practices that aren't doing well weren't good at these things before the pandemic. So I would say that when the slowdown happened, they didn't talk to their teams. They were terrible at communicating to begin with. They didn't have great systems in place and were not able to pivot as quickly. Teams with a growth mindset said, "Okay, game on. I can't use my hands. Let's use our brains. Let's start working on some things that we want to improve."
Jenni: So getting back to the basics is really important during this time?
Kirk: Right. The basics are critically important. So while we're involved with all of this PPE, and a virus, and confusion, don’t drop the ball on the things that are vital. Connect with patients on the phone, really listen to them, help them through some of their concerns. Stay dialed into what's important to your patients, and stay future-focused. Use these opportunities to spend a little bit more intentional time with Mrs. Fanelli in the hygiene op, building a relationship instead of worrying about things you can’t control.
Jenni: Share a little bit about what leaders can do in terms of self-care that will help them stay in the right mindset and keep their teams in the right mindset. What's important there?
Kirk: Self-care is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your family, and your team, and as a dentist, you already know this. Dentistry is not a profession; it’s a sport, so you have to think like an athlete. Your hands and your back have to stay healthy. Your mind needs to be clear, alert and focused so you can be your best. You've also got to get a sufficient amount of sleep for your body to operate and to lower inflammation. I love to exercise in the morning. I think exercise, as you age, is critical. I exercise, not for the physical benefits but for the mental benefits.
And don't go somewhere in your mind that isn't productive. And if you struggle with this, ask for help. That's why you need to have a mentor or a coach. Because if you don't have a mentor or a great coach like one of the coaches here at Act, you start to talk to yourself, and when you talk to yourself, it's not always positive. Trust me, as a business owner, I know firsthand how important it is to stay above the negativity bar. Otherwise, your son says, "Dad, I noticed your lips are moving." And you say "Son, you can see that?" And he says, "Yeah, it's getting louder too." So make sure you've got somebody to talk to that can help you stay on the rails, stay focused, and make dentistry a very productive thing and profitable thing for years to come.
Jenni: You’ve talked about not focusing on negativity and how that can be detrimental. So what are some ways that we can be positively priming our teammates and our patients to keep them on the bus, moving forward, in a positive way?
Kirk: I think in everything, just start with something positive. Our coaches often start calls and encourage Doctors and teams to begin with a positive focus. I could easily ask you what's going on, and you're going to take me to the negative, but when you tell me something good that's going on, your brain can stay in that area. I also think it's really important you tell your brain what to think. In the morning, I'm coaching myself, proactively telling myself, this is the way I want today to go. I'm not just going to trust it to fate alone and be reactive. Even before my own huddles, I'm thinking, be calm, ask a question, engage. So positive priming is really important in this whole process.
We're not looking for perfection here; we’re looking for progress. When you do this, when you focus on the positive, get back to basics, you can make progress in all this mess and opt-out of the craziness.
Jenni: Any parting words you'd like to leave us with?
Kirk: Absolutely. Double bonus round. Parting words are always this; don’t ever forget this is an incredibly noble profession. Some of you reading this might only be 35. Think about this; you have three full decades to get this right. Don’t let the uncertainty of one year, get you down. Opt out now!
Always make sure you're looking at the best years being in front of you instead of them being behind you because that's an exciting journey to be on. Dentistry is amazing. If it's not amazing, reach out to get some help from somebody who can offer some perspective. We're always here to help. One of our favorite jobs or our greatest joys is helping you understand dentistry is an awesome profession. When you have a better practice, you're a better everything. You're a better spouse; you’re a better mom, you're a better dad, you're a better everything. You can go home, your files are closed in your brain, and you say, “it wasn't perfect, but today, it was a good day.” And that's what makes this industry so fun. So make sure you set your compass, your gauge, your thinking, everything in the right area, and set yourself up for success long term.