Never NEVER Give Up
If there ever was a lesson in resiliency, it was staged this year at the 34th America’s Cup Races. In an epic comeback, a defense for the ages, Skipper Jimmy Spithill made believers of us all. Personally I thought he had serious mental issues when he said the U.S. team would be victorious despite an 8 to 1 deficit with the Kiwis, Emirates Team New Zealand. His crew didn’t flinch. Oracle's shore crew and designers never stood pat in seeking tiny improvements. They followed his leadership, pushed the limits of technology and won 8 straight to retain the Cup last week. In his interview right after the victory he said, “On your own you’re nothing but when you’ve got a team like this around, you fight to the end and you never give up.”
Except for a few sailing lessons in my life, I had minimal knowledge of this 162 year old international competition. But the 7-ton water-skimming yachts (underwritten by iconic tycoon Larry Ellison), the speed, the breathtaking San Francisco Bay racecourse, and the drama (including a 2-race penalty imposed on Team USA for a scandalous weight violation during the Cup's warm-up regattas in 2012) caught my interest. As a dental leader, you may not be dealing with cancellations because the wind is too strong, or conversely the winds are too calm, but how well are you inspiring your employees to tune and improve each day? Like the Oracle team leader, do you buoy your team when the tides aren’t in your favor?
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? When your chairside fails to show up at work, 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 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 lead your team to victory.If you want to build resiliency, contact Dr. Haller at email@example.com. She’ll help you to develop your team leadership.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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