Endo Mastery

Sailing into the new year



I’ve written before about how sailing is a great metaphor for your endodontic practice. You want your ship to be in top form with your crew, rigging and sail in ideal alignment. When you catch the wind, the sail snaps into fullness and you surge forward powerfully.


People who go sailing for the first time are usually surprised by how quiet and peaceful it is when the boat is fully under sail and effortlessly cutting through the waves. It’s the same with an endodontic practice: a great practice with optimized team roles and practice systems is free from noise and resistance to forward momentum.


I always tell new coaching clients that it is easier to do 6 or 8 cases per day than to do 3 or 4 cases. Many are doubtful at first because their context is what they are doing now, which is equivalent to a person trying to sail a boat with an inexperienced crew and a big hole in the sail. Coaching helps doctors correct practice deficiencies and create team alignment, and suddenly they discover how easy and stress-free it is to optimize their schedule for effortless productivity.

Filling your endodontic sail

One thing that sailing does require is wind. A sailboat on perfectly flat windless water goes nowhere. It doesn’t have enough wind and so it just drifts on external currents without making any progress toward the desired destination. Conversely, a sailboat in a storm requires constant stressful reactive attention and course corrections. Between the two extremes, there is a sweet spot—a good steady wind that energizes the boat to operate efficiently and intentionally.


In your practice, the energy you bring as the leader is akin to the wind in your sails. Without energy, the practice will be at a standstill, drifting without making progress. Likewise, if you don’t have a clear vision for your practice, you can end up over-reacting to the challenges of the practice and losing your way forward.


As we move into 2023, good questions that every practice owner should ask are: What is going to fill my practice sail this year? What will make my practice more successful, meaningful and enjoyable?


The answer might differ depending on where you are at with your practice and in your life. If you are averaging 3 or 4 cases per day (like most endodontists), adding 2 more cases per day could change your life so significantly. This result, from improved marketing and scheduling efficiency, would probably double your take-home income while simultaneously reducing stress. That completely changes your relationship with (and your mindset about) your practice.


For other doctors, lifestyle changes may be the focus. This might include reducing the number of days worked per week or taking more vacation time. Lifestyle changes have an economic impact on the practice, so filling your sail with renewed growth and improved productivity is often needed.


Filling your sail also varies for doctors at the bookends of an endodontic career. Startup doctors will need to focus on profitability and getting a strong return from every dollar they invest in their new practice. As new practice owners, they have an uphill climb to put their team and systems in place quickly and effectively, become productive, and pay off their debt.


For doctors in their near-retirement years, preserving or maximizing practice value prior to an equity sale is paramount. This often needs to happen while accelerating savings for retirement and also transitioning to a better lifestyle with more time off from the practice. How can you achieve a lifestyle practice without giving up practice value or profitability?

It’s the journey, not the destination

Whatever your focus is for the coming year, it’s important to remember that the journey is what counts. Any destination you choose will ultimately be only a stop along the way to the next destination.


Practice ownership is a game, but not a “how can you exploit the system” game. It’s a game of enjoyment about doing something worthwhile. How can you have fun everyday with your team to fill your sail and achieve new goals? 

Serving the endodontic community



I love endodontics. It’s such a great profession with incredible opportunities, especially once you crack the nut of how to be very productive and efficient clinically. At that point, you are on a glide path to such an abundant and rewarding life that easily surpasses most other dental specialties.


It’s important to me to give back to the endodontic community. The greatness of our profession today is the result of generations of endodontists contributing to the science and practice of endodontic treatment. The American Associate of Endodontists was founded in 1943 to further advance endodontics, and 20 years later endodontics was recognized as an official specialty in the dental profession. In the same way, as practicing endodontists today, it is our actions that will shape the profession’s future.


I like to help as many endodontists as possible experience the highest level of success in the profession. Within that objective, helping endodontic residents and new endodontists get started by taking the right first steps into the profession is near and dear to me.


Earlier in November, I held a complimentary one-day seminar program, “Pathway to Your Ideal Career in Endodontics”, for young endodontists. It was such an enjoyable day with a lot of energy and interactivity from these hopeful and ambitious young doctors. In the past, I’ve also given one-day virtual seminars to residents at many of our endodontic graduate programs.


Young endodontists today face a different world than those in the past. Most of them graduate with truly eye-watering student debt. In the past 40 years, while the average dentist’s income has tripled and the average home price has gone up 6-fold, the average tuition for dental school has skyrocketed by 16 times … and that’s not including specialist residency.


Young endodontists literally can’t afford to make any mistakes starting out. I honestly worry about them stuck in low-paying associate or corporate positions where they are saddled with their debt for decades, have limited opportunity to save for purchasing a practice, and limited control over their future.


That’s not the endodontic profession that I’ve experienced. Without someone urging young doctors to explore all their options, they can too easily fall for the first position that can give them a salary … and potentially lose access to the amazing opportunities that independent practice owners have.


I want endodontics to continue to be a strong profession that is full of opportunities, both for doctors just starting out as well as those currently practicing with established practices. For new doctors, Endo Mastery will announce its complimentary resources for 2023 in the spring.

Hiring for attitude and aptitude


It’s a puzzling situation that we find ourselves in when it comes to hiring. Dental jobs should be among the most desirable. They are very stable jobs in a caring and supportive environment with a relatively small team where every person has a vital and appreciated role. Plus, they are pretty good jobs income-wise. And yet, finding qualified or even interested team members is like pulling teeth recently.


Last month, at our Mastering the Effortless Endodontic Practice seminar in Philadelphia, an informal survey of doctors revealed that over half of them have an unfilled team position in their practice. That means that if you are looking for someone, and half the doctors in your community are also looking, there is some pretty significant competition for skilled dental personnel.


Even worse, doctors talk about hiring someone who literally doesn’t even show up on their first day, or someone who stays for a few weeks and then jumps ship without warning to go to another practice for 50 cents more per hour.  At Endo Mastery, we believe that a team that performs well should be paid well, but if you end up in an all-out bidding war for new hires, it creates additional problems. It’s hard to justify paying a new team member more than someone who has worked for the practice loyally for several (or many) years already.


I believe the turbulence in the employment market will eventually settle down, but until then doctors in many dental markets should not expect to easily hire someone who has high level experience and skills.

Personality and trainability

If a new hire can’t come with the whole package already in place, then you need to hire at a lower level and train them up. In this regard, you’re going to have to start somewhere, and you should focus on finding people who have a great personality and who are trainable. That’s attitude and aptitude!


Attitude characteristics that are desirable include people who are fundamentally happy, drama-free, a people-person who is caring and empathetic, highly communicative (which is different than being excessively talkative), self-motivated to do well in their job, and a team player.


Dr. Goerig always likes to ask prospective employees about their current or past involvement in team sports, because that often reveals someone who has some competitive drive to do well, knows how to work with others to accomplish goals, and is accustomed to being coached.


For aptitude, you want someone who has a natural ability to learn quickly and become proficient. Look for people who are engaged, highly curious, detail oriented, have an ability to stay focused, and track record of teaching themselves new things. Some people are doers, which is what you want. Watch how fast they walk because that’s a big indication of how much energy they bring to everything they do.

Keep your eyes open everywhere

If you are prepared to hire for attitude and aptitude—and train for dental to the level that you want—then your pool of candidates expands significantly. In fact, you can find great people in non-dental environments who would be so grateful for the opportunity for a dental career.


Look for people who you notice repeatedly that they excel at face-to-face interactions with you in the businesses you patronize. That could be a barista at the coffeeshop (service-oriented), a bank teller (detail-oriented), or the person behind the counter at a jewelry store (very accustomed to talking about high-value items so that people happily pull out their credit card).


Give them your business card and say, “If you are thinking about making a career change sometime, give me a call.” That way, you’re not committing yourself to anything until you’ve had a chance to vet them more thoroughly, including having your office manager in the conversation.


You will know if you have a good candidate when your office manager agrees that the potential hire has an energy level and ability to be a great team member.

Simplifying endo practice management


The problem with practice management is that you spend most of your time chairside, which is where you need to be and want to be. Unlike other businesses where an owner/manager’s role is primarily to oversee everything happening in the business in real-time, doctors often don’t have the opportunity to notice problems or opportunities as they happen. 


When you do find out, it’s often too late to act on it, whether that is after a patient leaves, at the end of the day, on a month-end financial or referral report, or at the end of the year when your accountant delivers bad news. So, when practice management needs your attention, you’re often in a reactive mode and already feeling behind the 8-ball, which leads to frustration and stress.

Team dependency

Endodontists are incredibly dependent on their teams, but most doctors don’t feel like they have an equally incredible team. They may feel their team is good, kind and caring with patients, and generally capable. They may also feel that someone on the team isn’t meeting expectations, that there is too much drama, socializing and gossip, or the team isn’t engaged or focused on practice goals. As a result, there always seems to be an issue to deal with.


Dr. Ace Goerig often says that 90% of success and growth in the endodontic practice is driven by the team. If you don’t have a team that you can count on for both patient success and business success, then you are always going to be worrying. Part of your brain will always be listening to what’s happening in the background when you’re trying to focus 100% on the patient in front of you.

Sometimes there is a genuine performance or personality issue with a team member, but the gap in overall team performance (which makes the difference between a good team and an incredible one) is almost always a leadership and training gap.


Great teams need a clear understanding of your vision for the practice, which includes your vision for patient care, referral relationships, daily flow, and productivity. They also need a clear understanding of the metrics that are essential to drive the practice’s success and growth. And finally, they need to understand their specific role and priorities to ensure the highest level of patient and referrer care, and the highest level of care for business goals.


When teams are trained fully to the level that they are capable of, doctors have confidence that their vision and standards are being met every minute of the day. They know the team is managing the right things, and they are capable of taking on more responsibilities for daily operations. That takes stress off your plate, and lets you leave each day knowing that the team has completed everything comprehensively and correctly.

Systems dependency

A lot of practice management stress is also caused by disconnected practice systems. The left hand isn’t supporting the right hand and vice versa. This is often revealed in the practice schedule, where patients are routinely scheduled for longer than they should be. Sometimes the scheduling is stretched out because the doctor wants a “time buffer” … which is often a sign that the doctor and clinical team have not coordinated their clinical flow so that assistants are responsible for almost everything that a doctor is not medically and legally required to do.


Equally you see disconnected front office systems. For example, if patients are not committed to their out-of-pocket costs for treatment on the day of the consult, you’ll see consults reschedule for treatment, or an increase in accounts receivable in order to keep them in today’s schedule. Either way, something entirely preventable has created a disruption.


Systems like new patient intake, scheduling, clinical efficiency, productivity, collections, marketing and practice finances need to be streamlined and integrated to remove the gaps and ensure everyone on the team is rowing in unison to get the best results.

Effortless endodontics

When teams and systems are aligned to your vision, and when the training and processes are established for consistent team performance and practice results, your life in the practice changes significantly. At Endo Mastery, we call it “effortless endodontics”, which lets you optimize your efficiency, eliminate your stress factors, achieve great financial performance, and have fun every day in the greatest profession.

Practice peace of mind


“Shouldn’t it be easier by now?” — that’s a question a lot of doctors ask at a certain point in their careers. After years of striving to establish referral relationships, dealing with staff issues, and balancing the books each month, persistent concerns about the practice are still living rent-free in their heads 24-7.


It can seem like a constant treadmill that can drain your enthusiasm, leave you too tired at the end of the day to enjoy your life outside the practice, and interfere with your sleep in the worst cases. Inside the practice, there’s never a feeling of being complete and fulfilled; there’s always some nagging issue to deal with, team drama to arbitrate, or stressful business decision to be weighed.

Emotional work/life balance

When we think about work/life balance the way that most people do, we usually think about the balance on our time. Popular wisdom holds that to be fully happy in our life, we should be working toward working less. The idea is that less time at work should result in less overall stress in our life.


Time balance isn’t necessarily the panacea that every doctor needs. For example, arbitrarily reducing time at work could have a financial impact that would complicate life, rather than simplify it. And, trying to walk away from practice issues, rather than address them head-on, is likely to amplify those issues even more.


For most doctors, work is a necessity and therefore, even if you can’t alter your time balance right now, you can take steps to improve your emotional work/life balance. Emotional balance means that you’re not carrying around stress and emotional baggage from work that poisons the rest of your life.


At work, each day should be enjoyable and productive, and you truly feel that you are practicing endodontics in a personally and professionally fulfilling way. You are free of distractions and drama, practice systems are tuned to ensure the schedule runs smoothly, and your team is 100% engaged in helping you deliver clinical excellence to patients and relationship excellence with referrers.


After work, when the day is done, you leave without feeling incomplete, worn out or burnt out. You have the energy and satisfaction of knowing that the practice and team effortlessly achieved your goals today, and the confidence that it will do so tomorrow as well. You can be 100% present for your family and friends, and there is nothing bringing you down.


When we think about work/life balance the way that most people do, we usually think about the balance on our time. Popular wisdom holds that to be fully happy in our life, we should be working toward working less. The idea is that less time at work should result in less overall stress in our life.


Time balance isn’t necessarily the panacea that every doctor needs. For example, arbitrarily reducing time at work could have a financial impact that would complicate life, rather than simplify it. And, trying to walk away from practice issues, rather than address them head-on, is likely to amplify those issues even more.


For most doctors, work is a necessity and therefore, even if you can’t alter your time balance right now, you can take steps to improve your emotional work/life balance. Emotional balance means that you’re not carrying around stress and emotional baggage from work that poisons the rest of your life.


At work, each day should be enjoyable and productive, and you truly feel that you are practicing endodontics in a personally and professionally fulfilling way. You are free of distractions and drama, practice systems are tuned to ensure the schedule runs smoothly, and your team is 100% engaged in helping you deliver clinical excellence to patients and relationship excellence with referrers.


After work, when the day is done, you leave without feeling incomplete, worn out or burnt out. You have the energy and satisfaction of knowing that the practice and team effortlessly achieved your goals today, and the confidence that it will do so tomorrow as well. You can be 100% present for your family and friends, and there is nothing bringing you down.

Achieving practice peace of mind

Most doctors have the fundamentals of a stress-free, highly productive practice in place, but are missing the final step that makes it all work with effortless efficiency and worry-free results. It’s like building a house with Legos where each brick is slightly off in size: You’re always going to see cracks and gaps that reveal weaknesses and fall short of your vision.


True peace of mind comes when you have optimized systems and a highly trained team that is focused on all the things that make endodontics enjoyable and rewarding for you as the doctor. The right checks and balances, the right reporting systems, the right marketing, and each team member trained to the highest professional level mean that the practice’s systems start worrying for you.


Let us help you on your path to stress-free practice success and personal peace of mind. A great way to begin is our upcoming Mastering the Effortless Endodontic Practice seminar in Philadelphia next month.

How positivity drives productivity



As humans, we are hardwired to find risks and negativity. It’s built into our survival response. Rather than forge confidently into the forest, our instinct is to be cautious about the unknowns potentially lurking behind every tree … lions, tigers and bears, and so on.


For your team, the only lion, tiger or bear they will likely have to deal with is you when you’re in a bad mood or when something goes wrong. Your team is sensitive to your reactions, and there is a vast difference between teams with negativity-focused leaders and those with positivity-focused leaders.


Negative leaders react in ways that the team learns to avoid. Whether it’s anger, blame seeking or even the expression of disappointment, team members are uncomfortable in these situations. They adapt through avoidance, finger pointing, or making sure they cover their tracks whenever they perceive a situation that might set you off. In short, they become risk-averse and, rather than lean into the challenges of practice growth and success, they shrink away.

The inevitability of missteps

Growth in any worthwhile endeavor means achievement at a new level, which by definition is the result of you and your team forging into new territory. In these situations, no one can expect perfect results the first time so there are always going to be disturbances, roadblocks and unexpected twists and turns.


To succeed in growth requires you and your team to embrace those risks, to learn how to improve performance and productivity, and to employ creativity in finding effective solutions to things you’ve never done before. A negativity managed team is rarely up to the task, which makes your job as a leader so much more difficult. Like Sisyphus forever pushing a boulder uphill, it takes exceptional willpower and strength to make daily progress.

The power of positivity

The opposite of a problem-fearing and risk-averse team is a solutions-focused and opportunity-energized team, which can only be created through positivity from leadership.


The first element of positivity is accepting that we deal with many complicated and detailed things in our practices. Sometimes an instrument breaks during treatment. Sometimes the team overlooks a detail that has a ripple effect. Sometimes patients arrive late or no show. Once the milk has been spilled, there is no use crying about it. As leaders, we have to put on a smile, avoid our temptation to grind everyone to a halt in order to dissect blame in the moment, and keep the team moving forward.


The second element of positivity is radiating energy for growth, which means embracing that the entire team (including you) are on a journey of learning and growth together. Perfection is not the goal, but progress is. With that mindset, individual and team efforts to improve should be shared and celebrated. As much as teams avoid negativity, they are drawn into positive recognition, reinforcement and rewards. 


The third element of positivity is investing in your growth and your team so that your practice becomes a place that you truly enjoy, where you can be happy every moment you are there, and where you can have fun. Building this kind of effortless and productive environment makes it easy to smile every day because your vision and goals as a practice owner are being achieved consistently and at the highest level.

Changing the game for your team

Every problem, challenge or stress you face in your practice has a solution that involves your team. 90% of practice growth is driven by the team, so engaging your team is the #1 job of a practice leader.


A great way to bring the team together and chart a new course for growth is at the Endo Mastery 2-day seminar, “Mastering the Effortless Endodontic Practice”. Our program is specifically designed to align your team around a new vision for productivity and teamwork, and to give you the insights into daily opportunities that your team can focus on.

Deconstructing your comfort zone


It takes a lot of effort to get your practice set up the way you like. Once you have achieved an acceptable level of operational and financial success, it’s a great relief. The pressure is off, and each day develops a predictable routine. At the end of each month, you take home enough income to live well enough. Welcome to the comfort zone.


While the comfort zone feels like you’ve successfully passed through all the great hurdles of practice ownership, it’s very deceptive. It’s actually one of the riskiest stages of a doctor’s career. That’s because the comfort zone lulls you into a state of inertia, and you can end up being caught at that level for decades. Your comfort zone has become your greatest limiting factor.

Comfort zone limiting factors

In my view, there are 4 primary reasons why the comfort zone takes over your mind and limits your future potential:

  • The first reason is that you develop a motivation vacuum. Since the comfort zone is defined as having your needs fundamentally achieved, there isn’t anything external that is pushing you to keep moving forward. It is true that a certain percentage of people are naturally self-motivating, but most people are motivated responsively: we act more when we feel a need to address, rather than a want to pursue.
  • The second reason is that you become risk averse. If you have it made, why upset the apple cart? In the comfort zone, anything that has the potential to create a disturbance or disruption to the established routine is viewed with skepticism. Research shows that people tend to overestimate potential risks by double and underestimate potential benefits by half. That’s a recipe for saying “no” to things, even those that are a good bet.
  • The third reason is that you develop organizational habits. Every business, group or organization develops an internal culture around how things get done. In practices, doctors and teams get settled into a certain way of doing things. This occurs as a result of past training, inherited processes, or simply repetition. Once habits are established as the “norm” for the team, any change can be met with resistance.
  • The fourth reason is that you suppress your deserve level. Most doctors, once they are in the comfort zone, are doing well enough financially that they are probably the highest income earner in their extended family. Endodontics is a very rewarding career, even in the comfort zone. So, many doctors downplay and suppress their desire and belief that they deserve more because they already feel advantaged compared to most people.

Of the 4 factors listed above, organizational habits and deserve level are the most insidious. They can quickly sap you of any motivation you have and make steps to growth seem riskier and not worth it.

Deconstructing your mindset

Years in this mode of thinking progressively weaken you. As life goes on, your needs evolve but your practice becomes more fossilized around a lower-level comfort zone of the past. It’s not unusual for doctors who have been comfortable for many years to suddenly find themselves feeling frustrated, worried or unsettled:

  • I need to earn more income for my financial goals.
  • I need to take more time off for work/life balance.
  • I need to have more fun at work with less stress.
  • I need to modernize my practice and team.
  • I need to reconnect with my colleagues.

These are signs of responsive motivation (to emerging needs), and they are usually accompanied by risk concern (to the possible steps to resolution).


At some point, action will need to be taken because worry becomes stress, stress becomes anxiety, anxiety becomes distress, and distress becomes pain. The only question is at what point you decide to take action, and how effectively you find your new vision and path to future success.

Creating time freedom



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.

Overcome blind spots to find your next level



Last week, I was discussing the growth and success of a coaching client with my team. By implementing Endo Mastery systems, the client had added over $750,000 to their take-home profits in the last year compared to the previous year. At the same time, their stress level has plummeted, their team is happier, and the doctor is loving their practice and life at a whole new level.

Real-life success stories like that are unbelievable and incredible … and that’s the fundamental challenge we were discussing. When we can help doctors create success that is literally best described as defying belief or credibility, how do we communicate those stories in a way that motivates other doctors? How do we help doctors overcome their instinct to disbelieve when the results are so amazing and disproportionate to their own experience?

Doctors trust other doctors more than they trust marketing claims but putting a figure like $750,000 in a client testimonial is difficult. First, a lot of doctors don’t want their income exposed in such as public way. It’s regarded as impolite in many circles to talk about your income so openly. So, we’re often left to describe success in abstract terms like percentages or case numbers, which don’t have the same truth-telling effect.


Now, I agree that $750,000 is an eye-popping number. But would your reaction to $500,000 be any different? It’s still disbelief from most doctors. What about $250,000? That would nearly double the take-home income of the average endodontist, so it’s still in the realm of incredulity that would trigger the inner critic of many doctors.

Blind Spots and Incremental Mindsets

Most doctors are tied to the mindsets around their current practice systems, team dynamics, schedule, referrers and economics. They’d be happy with 10% growth in a year, which is such an incremental way of thinking that is driven by blind spots doubting what can be achieved. That’s why the first reaction to learning about what Endo Mastery does for clients is, “How is it even possible?”

That incremental mindset and disbelief is also why coaching seems like an expensive cost at first. The client I’ve been discussing had the same wavering concerns at the beginning: “How can I trust these success stories?” and “Will it give me a return that is worthwhile?” Hindsight is 20:20. I wish I could have told the doctor that our program will pay him back over $4 million in the next 5 years.

When you accept that your blind spots are what limits your success, then the only reasonable course of action is to get out of your own way. You need to look at your practice and life differently—in a vision and possibilities way rather than an incremental way.

Inspiring a New Vision

The first step is always finding inspiration to believe in a new vision. I personally want every endodontist to truly know how great their practice and life can be in endodontics. While we can’t put everything into a testimonial, we can provide you with a list of doctors who are happy to talk to you personally and tell you about their experiences on a first-hand basis.




The pursuit of happiness is a classic Catch-22 dilemma because often we must focus on the very things that are holding us back. Almost always, the limits we have in our life and practice can only be addressed by leaning into them rather than shying away from them. As a result, we can sometimes feel our roadblocks even more amplified — seemingly dragging our energy down when we need it the most.


The most successful people have a mindset that begins with a personal pledge to be happy in the moment — whether doing something you love or working on the biggest problem you are facing. Finding joy and satisfaction in the engagement process is an essential component to growth, so that problems are seen as opportunities, and limits are seen as doorways to new possibilities within your reach.


Happiness is also essential to developing a culture of focus, growth and success in our teams. Team members who are unhappy are going to devote energy to dealing with their unhappiness. There is also the potential that, through gossip or drama, they will spread their unhappiness to other team members … creating an overall practice environment that is distracted at best and toxic at its worst.


If the source of a team member’s unhappiness is a legitimate practice concern, then it’s our responsibility as leaders to resolve the issue quickly and fairly. However, we can’t be responsible if team members are unhappy because they have unrealistic or misguided expectations. Similarly, if the source is outside the practice (a personal issue, for example), then you might have to compassionately ask the team member to check their issues at the door. If they can’t do that, then maybe they need to move on.


We need happy teams because the only way to grow is to get better at things you aren’t good at yet, and to be willing to try things you’ve never done before while you are learning. Growth requires curiosity, creativity, optimism, and perseverance. An unhappy team simply does not have the emotional bandwidth to fully engage in growth while maintaining an environment of superlative patient care and enjoyable teamwork.

As your team’s leader, you set the tone in your office every day. When you walk in smiling, practice happiness as a daily goal, and celebrate the process of striving to improve, then you empower your team. They will embrace the same values and make the effort to be the best they can be. Your goals will become their goals, and that’s the kind of happy engaged team that drives your success.