I’ve been watching the Olympics. Those athletes have a remarkable drive to succeed. Take China’s Zhange Dan for example. She suffered an Indy 500-like crash just 25 seconds into her free program with her partner, then glided off the ice doubled over in pain. Four minutes later the music was started again, and the couple went on to win the silver medal.
Then there was American skiing ace, Lindsey Kildow who also had a horrific crash. She was taken by helicopter to a Turin trauma center where she remained overnight for monitoring of contusions and back pain. One day later she returned to the slopes and in an awesome run she finished and tied for eighth in the women’s downhill.
What’s the connection to dental leadership? Resiliency.
You may not be vying for Olympic gold, nor are you likely to be slammed into a frozen course at 50 mph, but when your chairside fails to show up at work it can feel just as harrowing.
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 yourself. And by managing your thoughts, you put yourself in a better position to succeed.
It’s easy to manage yourself in the ‘the thrill of victory’, when things are going well. But how do you handle the ‘agony of defeat’? Indeed, the toughest leadership course is the six inches between your ears.
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 vie for leadership ‘gold’, 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!
If you want to break out of a slump and sharpen your ‘game’, contact Dr. Haller at email@example.com. She’ll help you to build confidence and develop your leadership performance.
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