Endo Mastery

ENGAGING YOUR TEAM IN NEW GOALS

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

In just 3 weeks, the calendar year comes to an end. Most business owners, while enjoying the holiday season with their family, will also be performing their final analysis of the year. Did your practice grow over last year? Have your referral relationships improved? Is your team stable and progressing? Where did you end up in terms of your economic goals?

 

It’s a natural time to start thinking about what you want from your practice next year. In fact, setting new goals each year is one of the most important responsibilities for a business leader. Whether your goals are modest or ambitious, an annual focus on improvement keeps a practice vital, rather than coasting and slowly becoming run down over time.

 

Of course, the biggest challenge every practice owner faces is team inertia, which is the tendency of teams to stick to the tried-and-true instead of implementing changes that may have uncertain results. It’s usually not a conscious choice that teams make. It’s a subconscious dynamic where people skew toward doing what they already know well.

 

For any business to make progress, you must engage the team with energy and focus so that they want to make a sincere and concerted effort. Here are some things that help teams embrace change and growth daily:

Show your commitment

Team engagement shadows your engagement. Many teams are accustomed to doctors coming into the practice excited about a new idea, but often within weeks or days, commitment to that idea wavers or is forgotten. You must demonstrate that you are committed to any new goals, that those goals are important to you, and that you care about the results. Your commitment needs to outlast any initial bumps in the road as you begin to make changes. When the team understands that new goals are the “new normal” for the practice, they adapt faster. 

Breakdown goals and roles

While you may have general or broad objectives for growth or improvement, team members need more details. Goals should be specific and, ideally, they should be measurable. Most team members also need clarity for how their role on the team influences the results, especially when the goal is dependent on teamwork and not the actions of just one person.

Ask for their help

Team members engage more when they feel they are contributing to the team’s efforts to reach new goals. A vital step you can take as practice leader is to ask the team for their help to reach the goal. Despite the fact that you are their employer, each of them knows their job better than you know their job. They know what aspects are inefficient, ineffective, need better resources, could improve with more training, or have untapped potential for growth. Ask them to make suggestions and incorporate good ideas into the plan.

Inspire with possibilities

For teams that work together long-term, a history develops, and patterns form in work relationships, job roles and expectations. Days develop a familiar routine of predictability, which can consistently produce good results but doesn’t provide a lot of motivation beyond that.

 

This is a classic example of a team that needs to be inspired and their passion for great patient care and practice success reignited to embrace new avenues of growth and new goals. How do you give them a new vision for possibilities? Get them out of their day-to-day mindset. Bringing in a coach or taking them to a weekend seminar are great ideas.

 

At Endo Mastery, one of the greatest team motivators we have is that coaching clients along with their teams can visit Dr. Ace Goerig’s practice to observe and interact with his team while patients are provided care. This experience really awakens the energy in teams when they see a high-performing team approach the same tasks that they have but achieve such incredibly better results with ease. Many doctors describe this event as a turning point in their team’s growth.

Recognize progress

Finally, it’s essential that you recognize effort and progress when it occurs. Nothing new is perfect out of the gate, and any changes are bound to experience some hiccups at the beginning. Keep your team believing in the goal by recognizing each step of progress. Little celebrations along the way, from daily verbal recognition of individual efforts to recognition of overall teamwork keeps the energy high to carry on.

THE PERSONALITY OF PRACTICE SUCCESS

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Even though all endodontic practices are essentially engaged in the same business and deliver the same services, there can be vast differences in the level of practice success. While some of the differences can be chalked up to demographic variations between communities, even two practices in the same community can show dramatic differences.


It is the practice owner’s personality that is often the key variable which determines how successful a practice is likely to be. Some doctors have a personality and natural leadership ability that stimulates growth and success. For other doctors, it takes more effort to get to the same level (more about this at the end of the article).


In a world where unlimited knowledge about practically anything is just a Google search away, attitude is the differentiator. Here are some key personality factors of an owner doctor that contribute to making a practice more successful:

  • Passion and push
    When you love what you do, there are follow-on effects: a desire to be good at what you do, having fun and enjoying every day, and a work ethic to be focused and productive with your time spent meaningfully. That passion and the innate drive to keep pushing yourself to improve keeps a practice owner moving forward.
  • Curiosity and enjoying the game
    Business has an economic result, but the experience of business ownership is an intangible benefit to be enjoyed. When you are curious about how to keep growing and optimizing the business, then roadblocks and limits are seen as opportunities. It’s a fun game of possibilities to play where learning and growth inspires persistence to succeed.
  • Future-Focused Priorities and Decisiveness
    You see the limited results of GP-performed endo all the time: missed MB2 canals that blow up, retreatments, separated instruments, and cases where the doctor simply realizes they are in over their head. Every time they refer a case where they get in trouble, it’s an opportunity to help them realize endodontists provide a faster and more predictable clinical outcome with a significantly reduced risk of a failed case or need for retreatment. It’s generally not possible for them to rise to your level: They lack the clinical techniques plus all the specialized technology and tools we have in our practices, such as CBCT, microscopes, etc.
  • People-based investment mindset
    You need others to help you reach your goals, which means surrounding yourself with people who have the skills to support you. That means investing in people to align themselves with you. Whether it’s your team, your referrers, a mentor or coach, or other professional advisors, building relationships where you can amplify and access the expertise and resources of others is vital.

It’s easy to see how these leadership factors work together to create a positive, happy, engaged, forward-looking practice. When the doctor embodies these qualities fully, it creates a culture for the entire team. The full force of growth potential becomes unlocked. 90% of practice growth is driven by the team, and the team’s attitude and mindset reflect the doctor.

Upping your game

It is estimated that only 10% of people have natural superlative leadership qualities. Another 20% are within reach of being very effective leaders. What does that mean for the 70% that agree in principle but haven’t found the knack of putting leadership into action?

 

Everyone can take stock of their strengths and weaknesses. You might be great at vision but limited when it comes to motivating your team. Or you might be great at creating an enjoyable work environment, but weak at building referrer relationships to drive growth. Or you might provide excellent clinical care but have trouble staying on-time with your schedule.

 

Many doctors focus on their leadership strengths but gloss over the impact of their weaknesses. That inattention to certain aspects of business ownership dilutes your success far more than you would think and compels you to work so much harder to achieve the success you want.

 

The secret is put the right delegation, systems and accountability around your own limitations as a business owner. Having a coach support you with a 360-degree approach to your team and practice systems could be all it takes to achieve your next level of success.

STAYING TRUE TO YOUR PRACTICE VISION

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Every endodontist begins practicing with big dreams. Usually fresh from residency immediately after dental school, doctors have a vision for the kind of practice, team, income and lifestyle they will have. But a lot of doctors get sidetracked at some point. Often, some years can go by before they realize they have settled for something less in their current practice and life.

 

Usually, it is not a conscious decision to abandon progress on the vision. It is often a death from a thousand little cuts, and you wake up one day feeling like you’ve let yourself down. But whether you are 35 or 55, it’s not too late! You have time—lots of time—to engage your personal leadership and achieve incredible results!

Reviving your vision

If it has been a few years since you thought seriously about your vision, it is probably due for an update … especially if your vision is still that original idealistic vision of a recent graduate. What is your new vision in today’s context for your family and life?

Some aspects of your vision you may have achieved already. Maybe in youthful naiveté you set the bar too low, or maybe you’ve had better success than you expected. Ask yourself what is the next level for you now?

 

Likewise, some things may have been too idealistic or impractical, or you’ve moved on from them. For example, if you dreamed of having a practice on the moon, you probably have to walk back from that. But there are very few things that are too idealistic, as long as you stay down to earth. Don’t censor yourself if you really feel it is what you want and can achieve if you make all the right choices going forward.

 

A strategy that I recommend is to build a vision day into your next vacation that is two weeks or longer. Two weeks is important because it always takes a few days for your brain to wind down from the practice, and a few days before you return to the practice your brain starts to wind up again. Plan a day, right in the middle, where you can be free flowing and creative without being tethered to current challenges or stresses in your practice, team, finances or life.

Making progress

Parkinson’s law states that the amount of time a job takes expands to match the amount of time available. If you don’t create a timeline for your vision, then you’re letting time be open-ended, and you will use up that time continuously without achieving your ultimate goals.

 

At a minimum, your vision should identify the timeline of key deliverables and goals for each year. Don’t go overboard with detailed planning. Just keep it to 3 to 5 bullet points for annual progress to create leadership accountability for implementation.

 

Of course, there will be issues that come up throughout implementation. This is where staying true to your course is vital because it’s very easy to drop back into reaction mode and decide your vision is not going to work when you feel strong resistance or roadblocks.

 

Remember your destination and measure your progress by that as your north star. Sometimes it is smooth sailing and sometimes it is stormy. You must figure out how to go through the storm or how to go around it, but either way you need to still be on course once you have passed it.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Finally, recognize that you don’t have to know all the answers in advance, and you don’t have to create everything from scratch. Start by asking yourself who is already successfully doing the key parts of your vision.

Find your mentors that you can learn from and find your experts that you can engage to help you. You would never build a new practice building without hiring architects, engineers and contractors. Who can help you put together the elements of your vision?

GETTING PAST THE SUCCESS HUMP

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

It’s a familiar cycle that businesses grow to the level of their systems and strategies, and then growth inevitably slows. This can be frustrating because, during the growing phase, you know you’re doing the right things. But when the things you’ve always done to stimulate growth are no longer producing better results, you’ve hit the hump!

 

The hump is that foggy grey zone of business where efforts to grow produce underwhelming results. It’s the law of diminishing returns. No matter how hard you try, and no matter how many attempts you make, nothing seems to truly catch hold to spark a return to the growth levels you experienced in the past. Even when you do get some results, a few months later the practice often backslides to past performance levels.

The danger of giving in

After enough time struggling to achieve growth that is not forthcoming, some doctors are tempted to lower their expectations. Maybe they decide their team isn’t right, or their vision isn’t right, or their local economy isn’t right, or their referral base isn’t right. Maybe they reach the conclusion that they’ve gone as far as they can reasonably go, and the only choice they have now is to settle in and coast for the rest of their career.

 

Giving in like that often seems easier than continuing to struggle against resistance and diminishing returns. And once the doctor gives up on the possibility of meaningful future growth, that’s when the comfort zone fully takes over. The practice goes into autopilot forever … entrenched in its current systems and habits.

 

At that point, you can pretty much predict how that practice will be functioning 5, 10 or 20 years from now. It will be exactly what it is today, or maybe slowly going downhill, unless the doctor changes their approach to finding a solution.

Getting past the hump

So, what do you do if you are in the hump, and you need to restart growth? If you go hunting around for new ideas, you’ll find hundreds or thousands of possibilities in articles, CE courses and the advice from colleagues. How do you know what will work for you, what you should prioritize, if you’re making the right choices and whether you can integrate those changes with your systems and team without risking your current success?

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities.
In the expert’s mind, there are few.”

Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki

I love this quote because it works for so many life situations. For example, it explains why in creative endeavors like art, music, acting or performance, we are always celebrating new talent emerging from the obscurity. Their creativity freely explores the exciting possibilities they see, and through them we discover a new viewpoint or insight or expression of ideas.


But it also explains why the hump is so difficult for many doctors. Let’s face it, even with 20 years of experience in practice, most doctors are beginners when it comes to business management and leadership. The only practice they’ve ever known is their own, which is why the hundreds or thousands of possibilities they find outside the practice can stop them in their tracks.


By contrast, an expert sees few possibilities. An expert has broad knowledge and experience, and they can filter out all the distractions and weak ideas. They can prioritize and implement with precision, and they generate predictable significant improvements and success. Predictability might be a disadvantage in creative fields, but in business systems it is the goose that lays the golden egg.


Dr. Goerig often speaks about how, when he started his practice, he reached a point where he realized he was a beginner. He brought in outside experts to train his team, rework his practice systems and set him on an incredible path of growth and success. That choice so transformed his life that, through personal efforts and through Endo Mastery, he has dedicated himself to helping every endodontist achieve the same success.

PERSPECTIVE FOR ENDODONTIC LEADERS

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

For the last two weeks, I’ve been on my honeymoon in the Caribbean. It was magical to have that time with David after the busy time leading up to our wedding a month ago.

But we did have an unexpected surprise on our trip: the resort that we booked was a bit more party-focused than romance-focused at this time of the year, despite the beautiful photos on the website of couples lounging alone on a pristine white sand beach. We made the best of it though. We moved our room away from the pool sound system and, in the end, created our own one-on-one experience that was memorable.

 

The situation made me realize that in today’s world we see a lot of “Hollywood reality” and hear a lot of stories that tell us what our lives should be like. We are always tempted to compare our daily experience with glossy polished brochure images. In the day-to-day busyness of our family and practice lives, sometimes we can feel very distant from those dreams.

 

In fact, if we give in to those comparisons, we can end up talking ourselves into an equally deceptive story. If David and I obsessed on what the resort wasn’t, rather than what we could make from it, we would have come home with a different story. But we focused on all the pluses: we were in the Caribbean on a beautiful island, there were so many interesting things to see and do everywhere, and we were with each other. That was more than enough to have a wonderful honeymoon!

The need for leadership perspective

When you look at your practice, it’s tempting to focus on the problem areas. You might have a team gap, marketing gap, financial gap or some other concern. You might feel a lack of excitement or that you are going through the motions without making any progress. The truth is that doctors are, by necessity, problem solvers. You solve problems every day for patients, for referrers, for your team, and for yourself.

 

But that perspective is not the whole story. Your whole story can only be seen from outside your daily experience, which is a very different perspective and different story: You’re a credentialed accomplished professional with a successful operating practice. You have a team to support your goals, and you have the foundation of all the essential practice systems. Perspective shifts your mindset from seeing liabilities to seeing assets that can be empowered to create even higher success.

Finding your perspective

Getting outside your bubble is a leadership technique for everyone. I found, returning to work this week, that I was more charged up and inspired than ever, and more laser-focused on the assets we have at Endo Mastery to advance our vision for endodontists.

Overall, endodontists are the least likely among dental specialities to give themselves the away time and vision time that they need for perspective. You worry about your referral sources suddenly being seduced over to another endodontist if you’re out of office and not available for emergency care.

 

I encourage you to think about your leadership perspective and plan to give yourself the benefit of that viewpoint … whether that’s taking a vacation or organized around professional events where you can get inspired by a new vision for your practice assets.

 

One option that Endo Mastery offers is our 2-day seminar, which is coming up in September in Philadelphia. Many doctors have used this seminar to re-energize and put their practice on a new path to incredible success. You can hear some of their stories here:

I promise you; these are not slick marketing videos filled with unrealistic brochure images. It’s real doctors, talking about how they changed their perspective, found their true focus, and transformed their practices and lives.

CREATING TIME FREEDOM

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

This week is an important one for me: I’m getting married. My partner David and I will be saying our vows and beginning the next stage of our life journey together … one that will be shaped anew by our mutual declaration of “You, above all else in this life.”

 

That statement is inherently one of true commitment and personal priority. While we all recognize that certain things in life are fundamentally this way (another example is our children), we are also not naïve enough to think there won’t be challenges and priorities that compete for our time, attention and focus. Certainly, we live in a fast-paced, high-demand world where it becomes harder and harder to switch off all the outside pressures, especially pressures at work.

 

Work is a necessity in our lives, in the sense that it generates our income. There will always be easily justified and rationalized reasons to devote more and more time to your work. But when you start to feel unbalanced between work and life, it’s time to take stock and re-commit to the things that fulfill you as a person and make you happy.

 

There is a clever saying that goes, “I am a human being, not a human doing.” It’s attributed as a quote to a number of people, but one version by motivational author Wayne Dyer is particularly insightful:

“I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t, you aren’t.

Being a spouse or parent or part of a family is a much more important lifelong definition of who you are than your work. And that means your first priority, above all else in this life, should be allowing yourself the time to “be” with your family.

Working more vs. being more

At Endo Mastery, we focus a lot on productivity at work, which makes it sound like we’re all about working more and doing more, rather than being more. But, at the same time, we also emphasize efficiency. Marketing experts will tell you that efficiency is a very difficult concept to make exciting and compelling, but it’s truly the secret to a great life. Efficiency is what allows you to maximize the value of time at work, so you can minimize the amount of time at work.


Money may be the currency of things that we buy, but time is the currency of the relationships we love. Giving yourself and your family the gift of time is truly what you need to be committed to. It is a choice that you need to make deliberately and intentionally. What is a great life for you, first, and then how can the practice support that, second?


You better believe that when I stand with David to say our vows, I will not be thinking about all the work each of us will be doing in the future. I will be thinking about our time together in the future as a couple and family, with our work as a resource we optimize to enrich our lives with freedom and choices.

PROGRESS VERSUS PREDICTABILITY

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Every endodontist-owner wears three hats. The first is the clinical hat, which is what you are trained for and where you spend most of your time. The second is the management hat, which is untrained but taken on by necessity of owning a business and employing a team. The third is the leadership hat, which where your vision and dreams reside, but it often takes a back seat to the first two.

 

The management hat is vital because every business needs defined policies, procedures and team roles. It’s the manager’s job to keep track of everything that needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and by who. Managers have to deal with all the mistakes and issues that occur and ask, “Why did this happen?” and “How can it be prevented in the future?” The manager also studies the successes, asking again “Why did this happen” but then “How can it be replicated in the future?”

 

Ultimately, it’s the job of the manager to create predictability in the business’s operations. A focused manager implements effective and efficient systems so that the team has clear direction, and every day is a solid step toward the practice’s desired outcomes. The results of great management are a smoothly functioning team, days without unnecessary stress and a reliable cashflow that you can count on. In short, managers seek to control anything that creates a risk to practice operations.

 

By contrast, the leadership hat is focused on pursuing possibilities that aren’t being achieved yet by the practice. Leadership requires growth to make progress, which means making changes for which you don’t yet have a track record of success. To the manager hat, that sounds like a lot of risk.

 

The manager voice in your head will come up with all kinds of “buts” and “what ifs” that take the wind out of the vision sail. And, even if you do make some growth-focused changes, if the results aren’t immediate and perfect, the manager inside you takes that as proof that it isn’t worth rocking the boat or creating uncertainty.

Moving out of the danger zone

When the manager dominates the conversation, the practice moves to a state of inertia. Often called a comfort zone, it’s really a danger zone. The team becomes entrenched in current processes and resistant to change. Referral relationships settle around established relationships without improving or growing. Worst of all, the doctor stops believing in their vision. Their expectations become settled too, around what their practice has always done.

 

Over time, a practice in inertia creates its own issues because the world around them is moving forward while it is stuck in the past. The loss of a key referrer is often a telling sign. GPs can react when another endodontist starts marketing to them better, communicates more effectively, provides more responsive scheduling or gives patients a better experience.

 

When you find yourself in this state of needing to rebalance the management and leadership hats, the most important thing you can do is get outside of your own definition of predictable success. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” That’s a powerful thought, even if current research suggests the network is broader than five and the factor isn’t necessarily just how much time you spend.

 

In my view, the “time” in Rohn’s quote isn’t literal. It’s a metaphor for who you prioritize to help shape your viewpoint and vision. So, the best way to stay in balance with your leader and manager hats is to always have a mentor, always have inspiration in your practice life, and always seek out people whose own benchmark for predictable success is higher than your own.

PREDICTING YOUR PRACTICES FUTURE

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Two years ago, no one predicted exactly how much the worldwide supply chain would be disrupted by the pandemic. Even today, there’s a global shortage of computer chips needed to manufacture cars, a national shortage of baby formula, and many other examples.

 

Likewise, no one predicted how significantly the labor market would be disrupted, and how hard it would be today to hire practically anyone. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report earlier this month noted that there are 11.5 million job openings in the USA, which is the highest on record in over 20 years since they first started tracking.

 

As a business owner, predicting future possibilities and influences on your practice is important. You need to pay attention to the signs and signals that are coming your way, and interpret how you may be affected, and make plans to be prepared. Contemplating and preparing for things that, on a balance of probabilities, are becoming more likely to happen, lets you be proactive rather than reactive.

Underlying Assumptions

Even when things are going well, everything in your practice is based on certain factors continuing along the same path. What underlying assumptions in your current success dynamics are most vulnerable to change? For example:

We have a tendency when things are going well to take our eye off the ball. We behave more like grasshoppers than ants, assuming that summer will go on forever and winter will never come. A lot of endodontic practices have been in the grasshopper mode for the last 9 to 12 months. The pandemic shut down patient flow in GP offices early in the pandemic, and last year when restrictions started to lift, there was pent-up demand for dental care. Referrals in Endo Mastery-coached practices surged above average.

 

At some point, soon probably, the surge will diminish and we don’t know yet what level it will fall to. Maybe we’ll go back to our pre-pandemic normality. Maybe the concerning level of inflation will drive up interest rates and suppress discretionary spending again (yes, for many people, dentistry is discretionary). Maybe companies struggling with supply issues, rising costs and employment challenges, will reduce or limit insurance benefits. Plus, it’s pretty much guaranteed that insurance companies will pass their increased costs onto providers in the form of lower reimbursement.

Counting On Yourself

Whatever you believe may happen in the near future, the goal with prediction is to identify the factors that you have some control over, and take action on that basis. You may not be able to influence external factors like the rate of inflation or the stock market, but you do have control within your own sphere. For example, you have influence over your team and referrers, and you have the ability to drive your profitability high enough to weather any up or down cycle without distress.

 

The best investment you can ever make is in yourself and your practice. It gives you both the highest rate of return and the least dependence on external forces that you can’t control. You are your own best bet to drive growth and success, and Endo Mastery is a great partner to support you!

GETTING INSPIRED

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Leaders are givers. That is literally the job description. Give direction, give priorities, give vision, give training, give solutions, give motivation, etc. As practice owner and team leader, you probably have days when you feel you have given all you can give to the outflow of energy needed.

 

But leaders need inflow too, and sources to draw upon for ideas and energy. How, as a leader in a profession where most doctors work in isolation from their peers and colleagues, do you receive the creative and motivational boost that keeps your leadership battery charged?

 

The truth is you’re not going to find it within your practice working alone. Even if your practice is a great one, it becomes an echo chamber of systems and strategies. The most successful practices will coast toward a well-worn comfort zone over time. New ideas that keep the pot stirred and a motivated leader who has the energy to nudge the practice forward is needed to keep practices dynamic, enjoyable and growing.

 

To find energy and motivational inputs as a leader, the best place to look is your endodontic colleagues. That means getting outside your daily operational environment and into environments where you are bumping elbows with other doctors, absorbing their energy and ideas, discussing visions and strategies, and enjoying collegial friendships.

Colleague Conversations

In two weeks, we’ll be at the AAE22 annual meeting in Phoenix, which is one of my favorite events … precisely for the reason that it is a great assembly of endodontists. There are educational programs, speakers, new products on the market, and doctors meeting up with their professional friendships … some of which go all the way back to dental school and their endodontic residency.

 

For Endo Mastery, we love this meeting because our team gets to connect with incredible doctors, including our clients and former clients. We love to hear about the wonderful things doctors are accomplishing. These conversations are so vital, which is why our booth is set up to encourage socializing and sharing ideas for success between colleagues. If you’re at the AAE meeting this year, please drop in and join other doctors in conversation.

 

Beyond the AAE meeting, there are other great opportunities for you to engage with your colleagues and learn from endodontic leaders. Local and state endodontic groups are very accessible options. There are online options too … some of which are interactive and some that are information-driven, such as the AAE’s stimulating monthly podcast Endo Voices hosted by Dr. Marcus D. Johnson.

 

Study clubs are also a great option. At Endo Mastery, we have Mastery Circle for our clients who have progressed to a certain level through coaching. Mastery Circle is directed and hosted by Dr. Ace Goerig, and it is focused on continued practice success and personal financial growth. Member doctors also share their own ideas, and the overall approach is to have insightful conversations in an enjoyable, friendly and supportive forum.

Overcoming the Isolation Blues

So many doctors keep their nose to the grindstone and over time they find themselves feeling very distant from the profession. They might reminisce about the camaraderie of residency and wonder where those colleagues are now.

 

This sense of professional isolation can actually create a lot of stress. Doctors can feel that everyone (patients, team, referrers, family) are depending on them for everything, but nobody is concerned about helping the doctor with their problems. Many doctors feel so out of balance that they are running on empty all the time … both in the practice and at home.

 

Lots of things can change that negative trajectory, including re-establishing or forming new professional connections that can relate to the unique challenges of owning a practice and practicing endodontics. It might take some effort and time, but seeking new voices (from colleagues, leaders, coaches and mentors) can shift your internal dialog and help you reinvigorate your joy of the profession.

LEARNING TO UNLEARN

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Every endodontist practice owner has been through a journey that involves a lot of learning, trial-and-error, and decisions. After 5 or 10 years, many learned things get “baked in” to daily operations, including things that you know you do well.

 

When you want to grow, obviously you focus on aspects of the practice that can be improved. Tangentially, you also ramp up focus on the things you do well. These are the “sacred cows” of your current success, and it’s natural to want to protect them.

 

Protecting your sacred cows creates two limiting mindsets about what you need to create growth. The first mindset is cherry-picking, which is when you filter or dismiss possible options for growth because of a perceived risk that they could potentially disturb or disrupt your sacred cows. It’s a form of confirmation or experience bias that only lets you consider things that reinforce what you already believe.

 

The second mindset is paving the cow path, which is when you spend a lot of energy to reinforce and strengthen what you are already doing, but it’s not going to appreciably change the path you are already on. A good example is putting stronger collection procedures in place for overdue accounts without addressing why accounts end up overdue in the first place.

Unlearning and Relearning Is Essential

In school, many children learn a rule of thumb to never begin a sentence with the word “because.” It’s a useful rule to help young children avoid common mistakes as they begin to write. However, it’s an untrue rule. Eventually they need to unlearn and relearn the rule as “Do not write fragment sentences”, which recognizes there are ways to begin a sentence with “because” as writing skills mature.

 

There are many things in your practice that have been learned, internalized, and systematized to the point where they are fundamental to your current success. Even so, unlearning and relearning the core systems of your practice is one of the most powerful steps you can take to drive new success. And it is not just you; it’s your team too.

 

Everybody wants to move up to next-level success, but you can’t do that if you’re holding on to systems and beliefs that only work for lower-level success. The first step is letting go of your preconceptions and recognizing that what was right to get you to where you are isn’t going to get you to where you want to be. You have to let go of what you want to be true and find out what is actually true.

Opening Your Mind for Growth

Biases and preconceptions are very powerful. They are often at the heart of many of our habits, limitations and mindsets. To get past them takes effort, energy and inspiration, which means looking outward from your practice.

 

Endo Mastery’s upcoming June 2022 seminar “Mastering the Effortless Endodontic Practice” is a great place to start for you and your team. It’s one of our favorite experiences to work with doctors in this environment as they release themselves from limiting beliefs and discover a new vision for their practice. Please join us!