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7.18.08 Issue #332 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
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Bring Home The Gold: Visualize Practice Success

Athletes, entertainers and salespeople have been using visualization for decades. Now you have an opportunity to use the technique if you want to be an Olympic Gold Leader.

Visual images hold amazing power. Seeing really is believing! Seeing is also achieving. Think you can’t picture things in your mind? Try this: Imagine a big polar bear, eating a chocolate ice cream cone that’s melting onto his white fur coat. I bet you’re smiling as you “see” that image in your mind’s eye.

Visualization is the skill of creating a mental model of an event or situation. With PET scans of the brain, researchers have found that the same parts of the cerebral cortex are activated when we imagine something as when we actually experience it. Thus, visual imagery activates the visual cortex in the same manner as an actual external visual experience. In other words, the body doesn't know the difference between something we imagine and something that really happens. With the repetition of a sequence of thoughts and images—visualization—the associated pattern in the nervous system is strengthened. Responses that are imagined have a higher probability of occurring in the actual situation.

Still think you’re not a good visualizer? Think again.

Ever looked at the schedule to see the name of a difficult patient, and then tensed up as you pictured a frustrating late afternoon appointment? Have you missed daily production goals, and then felt knots in your stomach as you worried about making payroll that month? Everybody has some degree of mental eyesight. The problem is that most people use visualization the wrong way. They imagine exactly what they don’t want!

I seriously doubt you go through the day without any expectations. More than likely you expect negative things that might happen and you try to brace yourself against the situations you wish to avoid. But therein lies the problem… and the solution.

The negative scenes you play in your mind have a powerful effect on your present and your future. The greater the number of limiting mental images you generate, the more negative energy they create… and the more your life will be dominated by negative rather than positive outcomes. It’s time to stop being a victim of your own thinking and map out a vision of what you do want.

Set aside an hour for quiet reflection. Think about a time when you felt most alive, most fulfilled or most excited about your work. What made it exciting? Who else was involved? Write about how you felt.

Think about what you really love. Avoid being practical; there’ll be plenty of time for that later. For now, let your imagination soar.

Think about some of the things you value deeply, specifically the things you value about yourself, about the nature of your work and about your practice.

When you are visualizing, pay attention to the feelings that surface within you. Maybe these are emotions you haven’t felt in a while, like exhilaration, happiness and enthusiasm.

Get a picture in your mind’s eye of what you want your practice to be. What does it look like? It is important that you put yourself in the “director’s chair” of your inner “movie”. See yourself as a highly effective leader. You are the one who establishes the vision, mission and goals of the team. You push your employees toward high performance standards while facilitating a supportive work environment. You use good listening skills with patients and staff. You enable others to express their views. You recognize and praise staff for their efforts. You encourage everyone to participate in discussions and decisions. You provide feedback to your team with honesty and kindness. You emphasize task accomplishments while helping the group to create an informal, relaxed climate. You know the value of positive office dynamics.

Imagine how you will feel as you experience positive responses to your new leadership behaviors. You affirm your strengths while continuously looking for ways to improve. Interactions between you and others are collaborative and respectful, even when there are differences of opinion. Despite emotional tension, you continue to dialogue about solutions. You remain flexible and open to new ideas. At the same time, you know when it’s necessary to show courage, keeping the team and its members on course.

So here’s the experiment: Notice how much attention you give to what you don’t want, and change to thinking about what you do want. See what happens.

Stop justifying a so-so existence and contact Dr. Haller at She’ll help you to reach the gold in your practice.  can then see their body movements Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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