CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
In August, I had the opportunity to attend the AAE APICES meeting in Phoenix for endodontic residents and young doctors. This year, Endo Mastery owner, Dr. Ace Goerig, came to the meeting as well, and it was amazing to watch him in action! His passion for endodontics and his drive to help doctors is inspiring. So many young doctors were talking to him, and he was in his element sharing his advice for how to have the best career and life possible in endodontics.
Ace is a great role model of someone who keeps his passion alive. In his seventies, he continues to practice 2 days a week because he loves endodontics. He continues to have a highly successful practice because he loves working with his team to improve and grow. He continues to drive his powerful vision for endodontics that motivates doctors from coast to coast, as well as the entire team at Endo Mastery.
Waking Up on the Wrong Side of the Practice
For most doctors, their enthusiasm and passion for endodontics and their practice can drift downward over time. Part of this effect can be attributed to familiarity. Not much happens in a day that you haven’t encountered previously dozens, hundreds or (in the case of an RCT) thousands of times. The routine is what dominates the day.
Often nothing is particularly wrong. In fact, you may recognize that you currently have more than you’ve ever had in the past, and that you are living a blessed life. And yet, something is creeping up on you, and more frequently you feel something is lacking. Here are some common signs of diminished energy and passion at work:
These are all symptoms of an unbalance in your passion. Passion is what keeps us motivated, improving and growing … which is exciting stuff. But when passion stumbles, the first effect is often that our focus falters. Without the drive to push forward, practices (and how we feel inside them) can drift downward. Left long enough, it can become a personal crisis.
Resetting Your Energy Balance
I don’t care who you are, every job comes with pluses and minuses. Every job has things you must do (whether you like it or not) and things that you love to do (which probably motivated you toward that job in the first place). If you are not making progress on the things you love to do, then the things you must do will end up taking more and more space in your head. Then, you are in the situation when you feel like you are working for everyone else’s needs but not your own.
The first step to restoring your energy balance is to ask yourself and understand what do you love most? What excites you? Where do you feel the most motivation and least friction to push yourself to new levels?
For some doctors, it’s purely the clinical experience. They love to live inside the tooth. For other doctors, it’s helping their patients and referring doctors. They are very people-oriented and need to build relationships within the community. Still other doctors may regard endodontics as a great profession in which to experience a life that they love and enjoy with their families.
Whatever the answer is for you, which could be a mixture of various things, the best way to bring passion back into your life is to pursue the things you love. Invest in yourself to go after those things enthusiastically.
For example, if you are clinically focused, then who are your potential mentors? How do you get close to them? How do you put yourself on track to become the ultimate clinician? And then, how do you make your own practice and environment into one that supports you and lets you practice clinical care at that level?
At the same time as you are pursuing the things you love, simplify your life around the things you also must do. Reduce your management stress. Implement stronger systems and teamwork so there is less handholding and micromanagement needed from you. Educate and empower your team so you can delegate to them with trust and confidence.
This isn’t about giving up control. It’s about maintaining pinpoint control while giving up the labor you’ve taken on. That labor is such a weight and burden that it can overwhelm even the most passionate doctor. It’s like holding up a pillow at arm’s length. It’s easy to do for a short time, but as the time extends longer and longer, it becomes heavier and heavier.
If you’re holding on to labors in your practice and life that are becoming heavy (even if they are objectively simple to do), it will eventually draw all your energy away from the things that you love and enjoy.
Addressing Denial and Self-Doubt
The biggest challenge is admitting you need a solution, because that feels like admitting to having a problem and failure. However, the practice blahs typically affect people who are beyond the possibility of failure. Usually, they are quite stable and successful by most measures. By contrast, people who are still struggling to reach fundamental goals rarely suffer from a lack of passion. They’re hungry and motivated to keep making progress.
The next challenge is persuading yourself that you are worth the effort to improve and grow. Often when we feel blessed and grateful, we feel hesitant about wanting something more or different. “I am happy enough,” we say, or “It’s good enough,” or “I have no reason to complain.” When you dismiss your feelings and don’t allow yourself to feel validated about having new goals, you perpetuate your inertia.
Rather than accepting that the lackluster feeling you have is inevitable, look at it instead as a sign that you have absolutely conquered everything at your current level. It’s time to start looking for new possibilities and what is next. And in that way, you always keep looking forward and prioritizing your growth and enjoyment.