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.
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?