Endo Mastery

BUSY DOCTOR SYNDROME

DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING

There’s an old saying about how, if you want to make sure something gets done, you should ask a busy person to do it. Busy people have to stay focused in order to get things done, and consequently they get many more things done than unfocused people. It’s a blessing and a curse. The curse is what drives Busy Doctor Syndrome.

 

Doctors caught up in the busy syndrome are resistant to anything that appears to make their life more complicated than it is now, even things that will eventually make it better. They have their nose to the grindstone and they are not looking up to even notice the opportunities around them. All they care about is checking off that daily list of things that need to be done.

 

The list gets populated by things that need to be done in the practice, and things that need to be done in life. Most people divide their time between work and life and many people talk about work/life balance. But what is generally true of the busy syndrome is that regardless of where you draw the line, a busy person tends to fill up the available time on both sides. It’s rare to find someone who is time-limited and overwhelmed at work while being relaxed and unstressed at home, and vice versa.

No one else can do it …

The problem is that busy people fall into the “no one else can do it” trap. They take on tasks and responsibilities because they feel they are the only person who can. In reality, “no one else can do it” is actually an abbreviation for:

This leads to some unusual anomalies in the choices of busy doctors. For example, consider a task that occurs over and over again every month that a team member could be trained to do very well. Every time the task comes up, the busy doctor has a choice to slow down and take the time to train a team member, or to do the task easily, quickly and correctly themselves. Because their mindset is predominantly shaped by the feeling and focus of being “too busy right now”, they endlessly put off the beneficial step of training and delegating.

Overcoming the busy syndrome

Not surprisingly, resistance to training and delegating is actually commonplace in endodontic practices. When Endo Mastery begins coaching with our clients, we analyze the doctor’s activities and daily flow. Almost as a rule, doctors are generally losing at least 2 hours of every day on tasks that could be delegated to team members. That’s a big chunk of time that could be better spent by the doctor to reduce their busy syndrome while delivering care to more patients with less stress.

 

If you’re feeling the busy syndrome in your life, start by asking what is the simplest thing you do all the time that you could train a team member to do. Nothing is too small, and small things are the easiest to train at first. Do one thing every week, and progressively move to more comprehensive tasks. It is a process for sure and one that is a lot easier with coaching because Endo Mastery does the training for you. But on your own, you can make a big dent on your time crunch as all the little delegated tasks add up.

THE ELEPHANT IN YOUR LIFE

DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING

I don’t know any more about elephants than the average person, but I am confident that taking care of an elephant requires specialized skills. If I were responsible for one, I would strive to be much better than the average elephant caregiver. I would want my elephant to be as happy and healthy as possible.

 

You are responsible for an elephant, in the form of your practice. Endodontists go to dental school, not business school, so most endodontists learn business ownership by necessity and by the seat of their pants. As a result, endodontic practice owners understand business ownership better than the general population. That much is true.

 

But what if my question was whether you understand business ownership better than your colleagues, who are also endodontic practice owners? Most doctors would answer that they are average, which actually means that they don’t know for sure. That’s a huge blindspot because you should know how well you are doing at making your practice “as happy and healthy as possible.”

Overcoming Your Blindspot

How does my practice appear to a referring doctor? How does my team appear to a referring An ancient elephant parable tells the story about how 6 blind men each touched different parts of the elephant to describe it. Depending on what part they touched, they formed different perspectives on what an elephant is. The tail is a rope, the side is a wall, the ear is a fan, the leg is a tree, the tusk is a spear, and the trunk is snake. None of them had the full picture.

 

Endodontists spend the vast majority of their time focused on treatment. That’s a great perspective on clinical care for the doctor. But heads-down in the operatory on a daily basis is a very limited perspective as a business owner, and it is the source of many blindspots and missed opportunities.

 

If clinical care is the heart of the practice, then viewing your practice from the position of a doctor in the operatory is akin to looking from the inside out. As a practice owner, you need to look at your practice from the outside in. Here are some perspective questions you should cultivate to overcome blindspots. Think about each one as a blind man touching just one part of your practice. What do they sense and what conclusions do they reach?

● How does my practice appear to a referring doctor? How does my team appear to a referring doctor’s team?

●   How do I compare with other endodontists in my area? What is unique or different about my practice compared to those practices? What do I or my team do better than other endodontists and their teams? Where are we deficient?

●   What perception do patients have when they speak to my practice on the phone? What first impressions are created by my facility and team when the patient arrives. What experience does the patient have during their appointment?

●   What is the experience of team members who work in my practice? Beyond clinical care, what would my team describe as my main priorities as a business leader?

●   What is my family’s perception of my practice, my responsibilities, and my work schedule?

●   If I was a different doctor who was buying my practice, what opportunities would I see that have not been taken? What deficiencies or limitations have been allowed to persist?

●   How do I feel as the owner of my practice? Have I achieved my vision?

●   How would an outside coach view my practice and opportunities?

The last question, obviously, relates very closely to Endo Mastery. It’s what we do. Most doctors have difficulty developing their “outside in” perspective for two reasons. The first reason, already mentioned, is that delivering clinical care is the heart of the practice. You can’t be everywhere else at the same time. Second, most doctors don’t have the broad-based knowledge across the whole profession to evaluate their practices objectively. As a result, most doctors vastly underestimate their opportunities for improvement and growth, and fail to act on those opportunities.

 

As coaches, we see this pattern everyday. Doctors are astounded by the level of growth they can achieve, how quickly they achieve it, and how blind they were to those possibilities before they started coaching. The light goes on once you shift your perspective and start asking the right questions.

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.

TOP 5 STRESS DRIVERS

DR. ACE GOERIG

OWNER & CO-FOUNDER

Stress is a physical and emotional reaction with a wide range of symptoms: annoyance, tension, anger, exhaustion, depression, fear and even panic. Often called the “silent killer”, stress can build up in layers over time and lead to serious health concerns, burnout and breakdowns.

 

Endodontics is a demanding profession that requires precise clinical and surgical focus in order to deliver great care. You can’t be the best for your patients if you find yourself worried and troubled by stress factors. Here’s my countdown of the most persistent and toxic drivers of stress that endodontists need to watch out for:

5. Schedule gaps and downtime

On a everyday basis, there is nothing more frustrating than open time in the schedule. Whether the time was never scheduled, the patient didn’t show, or the patient arrived late, idle time is lost time, lost productivity and lost revenue. When it happens over and over again, the feeling that you are wasting time can generate a high level of dissatisfaction, especially if attempts you have made to improve scheduling seem ineffective.

4. Office drama and team issues

Even if the schedule is full, there are things that can happen everyday that drain your energy or interrupt your flow. Chief among those are team issues and drama, such as personality conflicts, miscommunication, fingerpointing, gossip and personal issues that are brought to work. When these stress factors take the enjoyment out of each day, and you are constantly mediating and negotiating with your team, it can feel like a war zone rather than a positive fun experience.  

3. Weak or lost referral relationships

Dentistry has an interdisciplinary model of care for patients, but often our referral relationships feel more dependent than interdependent. Usually, endodontists have a handful of referrers that we can confidently expect consistent referrals. Beyond that, many of our referral relationships are weak and uncertain from month to month. Anything that might upset those relationships, such as an unhappy patient, puts us on high alert. The fear of losing a referrer is itself a constant background stress.

2. Lack of time off

More than any other dental discipline, endodontists are often reluctant to take time off for vacations or personal well-being. That is largely because so much of our caseload is from emergency patients, and we want to be available when needed (and to keep referrers happy). Equally, endodontists tend to work more days per week for the same reason, whether we want to or not. That adds up to constant pressure over your career and can make you feel trapped or limited, and possibly lead to burn out.

1. Debt and financial stress

There is a financial reality to life and when we feel stressed economically, we carry that stress around with us everywhere. It can be poisonous to our enjoyment of our practice and our family life. Persistent high debt (from education, practice acquisition or in your personal life) can make you feel like your working more for bankers than yourself. Many doctors feel completely unprepared for their future financial goals, and frustrated that they continue to live with month-to-month expenses that use up almost all their income. The lack of financial empowerment can cause you to feel unsuccessful in a profession that you chose in part because of its economic benefits.

How to have an effortless stress-free practice

At Endo Mastery, we strive to help doctors eliminate stress factors, enjoy their practices and the profession everyday, strengthen their referral relationships, and have freedom with both their time and their finances. The growth and success we help doctors to create truly transforms the practice and transforms their life.

 

If you are concerned about your stress factors and you want to get back on track with your vision of great endodontic success, the best way to begin is our 2-day doctor and team livestream seminar, “Mastering the Effortless Endodontic Practice” on June 17th and 18th. Please join us!

SYMPTOM> CONCERN> PAIN> CRISIS

DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING

If you could magically reside in patients’ minds as endodontic conditions develop, you would see a pattern of behavior develop. On the balance, considering the general population of patients, when do most patients take action and seek out diagnosis and treatment?

●   In stage 1, patients might notice very mild initial symptoms: a twinge or something feels distinctly “off” at times. Most patients will be dismissive of initial symptoms unless they are exceptionally proactive and dentally educated.

 

●   In stage 2, symptoms progress to a steady concern: there is a growing discomfort that distracts them regularly. Some patients will seek out care, but many will “watch and wait”, and perhaps use OTC treatments to minimize symptoms or search the web for home remedies and advice.

 

●   In stage 3, discomfort escalates into pain: an ever-present throb and ache makes them unhappy and disturbs their sleep. Many patients will reluctantly realize that treatment is needed, although some cling to the false hope that the situation will resolve itself without effort, cost or intervention.

 

●   In stage 4, pain becomes severe and hard to bear: they are in crisis to find emergency relief as soon as possible. Patients make emergency calls to their GP, and their GP makes an emergency referral to the endodontist.

Considering how frequently we see emergency patients in endodontic practices, it’s a pretty clear sign that human nature is often biased towards waiting until pain is constant and the state of crisis is compelling.

Physician, heal thyself

At Endo Mastery, we see the same pattern in doctors with respect to their practices and lives. Some are proactive and vision-oriented, but many doctors are motivated to call us because symptoms in their practice and life are causing growing discomfort.

 

There are a wide range of symptoms that start out as a twinge but, as time passes, escalate to become greater concerns. Common ones include:

●   Stress around debt or cash flow

●   Decrease in energy or not having fun

●   Business or team management burdens

●   Team drama or poor team dynamics

●   Desire to work less without sacrificing income

●   Frustration from lack of growth, desire to grow

●   Loss of a key referrer or competitive pressures

●   Changing life goals and adapting the practice

●   Difficulty training the team

●   Desire to improve lifestyle and income

●   Feeling a lack of opportunities or resources

Waiting until you reach a point of crisis undermines everything you are working for. If something is needling you to the point where you are worried about it every day, carrying the stress around with you, and making it difficult to relax or sleep, then it’s clearly time to take action.

Visualizing Your Future

A great exercise is to think of what you want your practice and life to be like in 5 years. That is enough time to change literally everything and bring your practice and life into alignment with your ideal vision. But a lot of doctors don’t do this because they feel they don’t have enough opportunities, resources or control to achieve their desired outcome.

 

You don’t really know, however, until you dig in and start to take action leading to a solution. So, that is useful advice that we can learn from your patients: Don’t ignore the voice in your head until you’re in crisis.

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!

GET BUSY LIVIN OR GET BUSY DYIN

DR. ACE GOERIG

OWNER & CO-FOUNDER

Here I am in my mid-seventies, and I work out every week with a personal trainer. Some years ago, I reached that age when age itself begins to have an impact. Weight creeps up and activity levels slow down. These are warnings about the future if nothing changes.

 

I resolved to stay vigorous and active so I would not get drawn into an avoidable downward spiral. I made changes to my diet, started working out, and lost the excess weight. My personal trainer reminds me that you are either living or you are dying. It is a reference to that famous scene in the movie The Shawshank Redemption:

Prison might be too strong of a metaphor, but a lot of doctors certainly feel trapped or limited in their practices. They have daily stress, they’re afraid to take time off, and even with an above average income compared to most people, debt and financial stress seems ever-present.

 

Family life is influenced by work pressures, especially the stress that gets taken home from the office, the lack of time to enjoy with the family, and financial limits. A lot of doctors harbor the desire to escape from dentistry into retirement at the soonest possible moment.

The Little Voice in Your Head

You may not feel all these things to a level of painful discomfort, but if you have a little voice in the back of your head that says something is not quite right, that you’re not having fun, and you don’t feel energizing success both professionally and personally, then it’s a warning sign you should pay attention to. Otherwise, your future may spiral.

 

There is an art and a science to having an extraordinarily successful, happy and rewarding endodontic career. Few endodontists put all the pieces together in the right way, and it’s Endo Mastery’s mission to help doctors close the gaps. Doctors can experience tremendous success and freedom with endodontics as the foundation.

 

For my personal health journey, it wasn’t complicated. It did require focus, but the principles were solid and how they inter-related was clear. It’s the same with your endodontic life. There are some solid principles you need to internalize, and you need to understand how they are inter-related. Once you have that, then focus is all you need.

 

10 Secrets of Endodontic Success

I’ve just finished recording a new free on-demand webinar that’s available now. It’s called “The 10 Secrets of Endodontic Success” and I walk you through the 10 most important principles that determine your level of happiness and success … both in endodontics and life.

 

The webinar is only 80 minutes long, on-demand (so you can watch it instantly at your convenience), and complimentary on our website. You need this essential understanding to keep your practice and life on track to the highest enjoyment and freedom. Let’s get busy livin’!

TRANSFORM YOUR PRACTICE AND LIFE

DR. ACE GOERIG | OWNER & CO-FOUNDER

Let’s start with the undeniable fundamentals: there are numbers that drive our life and chief among those numbers is money. It is the fuel for living in today’s world. When we don’t have enough, we feel stressed and limited.

When we have enough, we feel comfortable (and often complacent).
The good news is that endodontics is near the top of the heap compared to most “jobs” in the United States. According to ZipRecruiter, 50% of endodontists make between $205,500 and $390,500. 25% earn less than that range, and 25% earn more. So, compared to the average American household, endodontists are in fact quite “comfortable”.

Now the bad news. Even with incomes up to 6 times the U.S. household average, most endodontists live pretty similarly to everyone else: they are chained to their job. That’s because the vast majority of people, when they earn more, also spend more and, especially, they spend more expensively.

Someone who earns $300,000 per year doesn’t necessarily buy more houses or cars, but they buy more expensive ones. They don’t necessarily buy more clothes or furniture or wine, but they tend to buy more expensively in these categories … and almost every other category of spending. Similarly, their levels of debt are multiples higher than people lower down the income ladder.

The result is that despite being in a “high-paying profession”, most endodontists essentially live the same kind of tenuous paycheck-to-paycheck existence as everyone else. And that means they must work to keep their heads above water, and keep working, and keep working, and keep working! The idea of working less, if it also meant a reduction in income, seems so unrealistic that it is not a choice.

How much more, for you personally, would you need to earn to actually feel like you have a choice about your time in the practice? You might want that choice now (in terms of how many days per year that you work), or later (in terms of how soon you can retire), or both.

Whatever you choose the way to achieve it is simple: You need to grow your practice. Growth means that the value of one day of your time working in the practice increases. You can earn the same income in significantly fewer days, or significantly more income in the same amount of time. Or the sweet spot may be somewhere in between: work less and earn more. Take more time off with your family and (at the same time) pay off your debt, eliminate your financial stresses, accelerate your financial freedom plan, etc.

It is easier to accomplish than you think it is. If you’re in that average endodontic income range, then growing your practice by just two cases per day will more than double your income. That is what Endo Mastery can do for you. Imagine how much your life could be transformed. Endodontics at this level is about freedom and abundance in every part of your life.