Prepare Yourself for Learning
It’s back-to-school time. I remember the excitement of going to the store for “school supplies” and the anticipation of seeing friends after the summer break. My backpack was filled with empty notebooks waiting to be filled with new knowledge. Since you are reading this column, I would predict that somewhere along the way you saw the importance of education too. You graduated and thought you were done.
For many, that is when learning takes a back seat to getting a job, earning a living and getting on with life. But successful leaders never slack off learning. They make it conscious and take every opportunity to apply their experiences towards improving themselves. High performing leaders know that they must first be effective with themselves.
The willingness to learn and grow is key to taking your practice to its fullest potential. Yet I am amazed how bright, talented people avoid stretching themselves and going outside their comfort zone. As we age, the ability to adapt and move outside our comfort zone becomes more difficult. Many dentists who are in their own comfort zone will not challenge themselves even though they know that they could achieve a lot more. They tell themselves that it’s too time consuming or counterproductive to upset the "apple cart." They’re too busy. And so they hobble along in status quo. The end result is average performance and average results at best.
Dentists are notoriously perfectionists. On the positive side, this bodes well for precision, accuracy, and follow-through. However, perfectionists are fearful of uncertainty or ambiguity, of giving up control and letting go. They demand immediate results from themselves (and others), and are unwilling to go out on a limb and take the chance of being embarrassed. Unfortunately, this prevents true learning.
If you don't step out of your comfort zone and face your fears, the number of situations that make you uncomfortable will keep growing. Over time, you run the risk of feeling surrounded by previously avoided situations. Here are some ways to challenge yourself to learn.
People with learning mindsets embrace challenges because these are opportunities to grow. In turn they are better equipped to handle inevitable setbacks, and know that hard work enables them to achieve more. Show excitement about learning. Your enthusiasm will invigorate your staff and they will be more energized and positive in response to the responsibilities placed on them. And believe me - patients will notice. Dental leaders who can accomplish this will see the positive effects on their practice. It's time to go back to school. Take charge of your learning!
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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