DR. ACE GOERIG
OWNER & CO-FOUNDER
I’ve been working a lot with young endodontists this year, helping them navigate the crucial decisions they have to make when they are just starting out. But once you’re launched, that doesn’t mean the decisions are over. A lot of doctors reach a point in their careers where they have a gut feeling that it’s not living up to their expectations. Common reasons include:
- Feeling stressed and not enjoying every day
- Team issues and drama that never ends
Too much business management and busywork
- Tenuous referral relationships that fail to prosper
- Disconnected from endodontic colleagues
- Lack of personal and family time
- Lost enthusiasm and feeling tired or burnt out
- Debt and financial stress that persists
The right time for change
All of the above points are symptoms of the need for a practice leader to make changes. Concerns don’t correct themselves on their own and allowing them to continue very often leads to them getting worse over time. A gut feeling becomes discomfort, which can become pain. It’s no different than a patient’s clinical symptoms. Untreated, things are likely to get more difficult (and more expensive) in the future. The best time to figure out your options and take steps is when you first notice symptoms.
Often doctors are reluctant to take action at the first signs because they are not sure if the concerns are temporary. I would say after a year or so of anything nagging in your head or causing stress that it’s not a temporary concern that will resolve itself with your current approach and processes.
The other common reaction to concerns is to doubt their validity or question whether anything can be done anyway. This is the procrastination voice inside your head that searches for reasons to delay making difficult choices. Whenever you find yourself saying “I’m too busy to deal with it now,” or “My team isn’t ready or capable,” or any number of similar deflections, it’s a sign that you are reacting negatively rather than taking the proactive steps that you should be making.
Once you’ve decided to take action, the question is “What action?” There are different ways that people approach this question, but my preferred approach is to always educate myself first, and quickly. This is especially the case where I’m treading in new waters. I recognize it is my knowledge gap that is the primary limitation holding me back.
It’s tempting to put yourself into an endless cycle of gathering options, comparing and contrasting, and ruminating over the pros and cons. This is also a delaying tactic because, to be honest, if you sincerely investigate options for any problem for a short and focused time, the primary reliable solutions reveal themselves very quickly. You don’t have to go on an exhaustive quest to Timbuktu to find what you actually need.
It is rare to have a situation where you have to deal with something that has never been dealt with in dental practices or business before. If you look around you, you will find colleagues who have conquered the very challenges you are facing. You will find companies who specialize in helping you address and implement the changes that will improve your practice and life.
Is it the right choice?
By far, our greatest fear is being wrong. Often, we want to have the entire process laid out in front of us with all the answers spelled to such a level of detail that we can quell our doubt. This “need to know all the answers in advance” is not usually possible, because you and your practice are unique.
A better way to think about it is headlights on your car when you’re driving at night. You don’t need to see the entire road ahead of you all the way to your destination. Your headlights illuminate enough of the next step or action you need to take to keep moving forward.
Think about everything you have successfully completed in the past without knowing the entire process. You completed dental school, endodontics residency, started your practice, hired a team and created a functioning business. Outside the practice, you probably have gained experience in getting married, purchasing a home and having children. Children, especially, don’t come with a handbook that answers all the parenting questions.
Your past successes should drive your confidence to address anything in your present and future. And with that mindset, all you need to do is to make a timely decision to begin the next stage of your journey of growth and success. Everything else will flow naturally.