How Much Resiliency Do You Have?
I had the good fortune of being invited to deliver a leadership program in France earlier this month. It had been 20 years since my last visit to Paris and I was very excited about the opportunity to attach some personal travel with the business aspects of the trip. Within a few days I had adjusted to the nine-hour time difference, resurrected some French language skills and learned the Metro system. Things were going smoothly…until departure time when I was caught in the Icelandic volcano fiasco. Cancelled flights. Delays after delays. There was nothing I could do except to say C’est la vie.
What’s the connection to dental leadership? Resiliency. You may not be dealing with disruptions in air travel, but when your chairside fails to show up at work it can feel just as maddening.
Succeeding in the competitive world of dentistry requires creativity, imagination and, most important, mental toughness. Resiliency - the ability to “bounce back” when circumstances are difficult - is the key factor to surviving in these enormously challenging times in which you live and work. Remember that you have no control over others, but you have full control over your behavior and your thinking. And by managing your thoughts and actions, you put yourself in a better position to succeed.
It’s easy to manage yourself when things are going well. But how do you handle the times when things are beyond your control? In the case of the missing chairside, your initial thoughts may be, “Oh (*expletive deleted*) this is going to be a miserable day!” Your mood follows suit. You feel defeated. This sets off a chain of events. You might brood or even snap at your front desk staff when she brings you the schedule. Your negative thinking leads to negative actions. It even leaks into your interactions with patients.
If you expect to have a peak performing practice and team, you’ve got to put a “psychological tourniquet” on your thinking. Unexpected or unwanted events are part of life. And while you don’t have control over what happens to you, you do have control of how you respond to those events. Evaluate your situations objectively. “Yes, it will be a challenging day but it’s not the end of the world.”
Your thoughts affect your emotions and your actions. It’s normal to be angry, disappointed, or anxious when a member of your dental team calls in sick, or worse, just doesn’t show up. But the starting point toward better leadership isn’t with your feelings. That’s because emotions are almost impossible to change directly. If you’ve ever tried to tell yourself not to feel something or to feel something different, you know what I mean.
Similarly, telling yourself the opposite of what you have been negatively saying to yourself rarely works. “Oh great, I don’t have a clinical assistant today. It’s going to be a terrific day” is just as inaccurate as “It’s going to be a miserable day.”
Resiliency is about finding alternative ways of looking at adversities when they occur. Start by remembering other times when you were short-staffed and how understanding your patients were. Even if your dental experience in working alone is not particularly stellar, there must be moments in your past when you achieved something and did it well. Drawing from those basic and pure images – mental scenes when you accomplished a task better than you expected – enables you to shift your thoughts and to change your mood.
If you have been experiencing lowered productivity and/or a tendency to become overstressed with life’s inevitable downturns, evaluate your thoughts. Challenge automatic beliefs. Start thinking like a winner and find the silver lining in every cloud.
If you want to break out of negative thinking and build resiliency, contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’ll help you to develop your leadership performance.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at email@example.com
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