"There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither...."
~Alan Cohen, Author
In the 35 years+ that I have been writing, there are certain subjects that really hit home for my friends. In the thousands of articles I have published, several have garnered replies from the viewers.
Burn out was one of them.
The article I wrote discussed a friend who quit dentistry. He was rather young (40's) and really dis-enchanted with the prospect of a lifetime working as an owner of a dental clinic. Many of you can relate.
You may also be able to relate if you are just starting up, feeling overwhelmed "What Did I just do!!"
When I wrote the article, I was feeling the same. Travelling 200,000 km per year. Battling blizzards, exhaustion. Doing service calls and sales calls. Installations. I was building clinics, doing design. Involved heavily in technology and setting up the first dental offices with computers.
Being in a family business, there were so many other parts of a business that needed to be attended as well. You get it!
When I looked at my paycheck at the time, and how much I was paying in child support and expenses of running a territory - it could be argued that it wasn't worth the effort. I was working so hard and spending every waking hour WORKING for others benefit! Where was my reward? There wasn't any joy - it became mundane. I had to show up for competitive reasons (which is a HORRIBLE motivator). I wasn't doing what I wanted to do - I was doing what others expected me to do. Just to pay bills and to get by.
So often I watch as friends reach this level. Even after taking a holiday to charge their batteries - they rarely look forward to getting back to "the grind". So many people in our profession feel stuck. Like we are caught in a downward spiral with so much competition entering our profession. DSO, corporations, lack of qualified team members. Expenses rise and higher expectations are put upon us. Lowered benefit plans.
As a "Dental Salesman" we are faced with increased competition from direct sellers. Manufacturers may consider cutting out the traditional rep altogether as they try to maintain profitability. Reduce the training and services and people on the street to keep priced modestly and compete. It's hard enough to be a rep against a full service company - yet, to many of us forward thinkers that's not even the real competition....it's direct to consumer services like Amazon or direct from manufacturer....no middle man!
Writing the article about burnout garnered me a lot of replies. It was not written to be inspiring, it was written and likely helped a few people pull the plug! It was filled with negative thoughts about "why do we bother" - and is pretty typical of the attitude I still see among our colleagues.
It probably should have been "journaled" and evaluated and never sent. It was therapeutic, ended with a good cry. Ended with a refreshed attitude. It ended with regret over writing it, and a new attitude that I am in control of how I feel and what I do about it.
Finding balance and gratitude...
A recent post on Facebook...
"A friend asked me how I can possibly “deal” with never shutting off my phone. Getting several hundred messages a day. Email. Texts. Phone calls.
Running a full time top performing business and still finding time to write, blog, podcast, consult, video conference.
He asked if I ever take time for myself. Shut off the phone.
I don’t. But here is what I do.
When I get up in the morning, I quickly check all the urgent matters. Take care of them. Then I ignore the phone.
I sit quietly and read. Newspaper, then an educational/motivational book. Often I will close my eyes for a minute or two and “focus” or THINK and re-read what I have read. Write it down (often on my FB!). I will take about an hour every day to do this. It’s meditative and calming. It’s for me.
When Karen and I go out for a date - I will give her my phone and watch. This is her time and my time to enjoy her.
I make time 3-4 times a week to workout. There is time to go away 3-4 times a year, but my “office” goes with me everywhere.
Technically I probably perform “work” related tasks 80 hours a week. Sometimes it feels like “work”, but I attack it. Particularly if it’s a challenge and I need it done. No procrastination. At the end, it’s an accomplishment and there is a reward.
I don’t think of “work-life” as a balancing act. I think of LIFE as something to grasp and enjoy and a gift. Every moment is spent learning something new or productive whether it’s for a friend, or for myself...some might call it work. Sometimes it’s stressful - but I KNOW I can take a breath. I KNOW I will take time to read. To learn. To work out.
I try to find meaning in everything I do. It all has purpose. Even if the purpose is to provide security for my family....or help a friend achieve a goal as their opportunity broker...
Living life with purpose and gratitude is life balance."
Game Changer instead of Burn Out.
-Quest for performance. Stop trying to be better than your colleagues....try to be better than yourself. Constant improvement is about you, not competition.
-Envision YOUR future. Are you clear about who you are? Your "Why"? Not what you were, but what you are going to be. Where you are going. To you have a vision? Define what's meaningful in your life.
-Generate energy - I am going to work out when I am done this article. Before I do anything else work related. Working out releases tension and helps release endorphins. I helps me generate even MORE energy! More Clarity! This can come from meditation, yoga. I consider playing guitar another form of generating energy. even the deep breathing I stop to do regularly (right now! Do It! Breathe deep...how did that make you feel?) YOU MUST DO THIS!!
"Success in Dentistry AND Life" originated on this basis. Without health, there is no energy created to perform mentally or physically!
Bring the joy. After you take the breath...think about what will "bring you the joy"! Gratitude is the golden frame through which we see the meaning of life....I start every day with a prayer of thankfulness and end the same way - regardless of how the day went. On the worst days, I am thankful for the challenges to learn and understand this is how GOD teaches me to be a better human being...
Devotion, purpose, commitment When you KNOW your WHY, you will understand WHO needs you! Live for that purpose. The patients need you, your team needs you. They can't perform without your skill and your DEVOTION to constant improvement. Make a commitment to OTHERS!! My wife is my inspiration, she gives me so much and deserves to have the best of me. Friends who trust me to give my best will get it, and I promise to be the BEST at what I do! YOU can do this....YOU owe this to the world...
GOALS and DEADLINES When you went to school, you KNEW you had an exam. Whether you liked it or not, you put in extra effort to make sure you passed. When you are in business for yourself - it's important for YOU to set the goal and deadline. The happiest people SELF IMPOSE goals and are not wishy washy. Personally, I DO NOT have to write. don't have to podcast, blog and really at this 36 year stage of career I could adapt to a completely different lifestyle. My personal goals don't allow that. It means I am writing on a Saturday and going to meet a client today.
Do you set a goal and deadline for yourself - or are you "non commital" and always distracted...speaking of which.
DISTRACTIONS and FOCUS You can't physically be in two operatories at once. When you are performing surgery - you are focused. If you want to be a game changer, and happy....focus is important. I have close friends who are entrepreneurs - but they lack clarity and focus. Too many things cooking at once and no deadline. No focus on getting the task done, just applying a little effort here and there is going to lead to burn out!
SKILL Constant improvement is the basis of my whole happy life. Whether I am learning new skills in dentistry or playing guitar - it never ends. I am NEVER satisfied! Dentistry offers so many opportunities for improvement regardless of exactly what you were trained to do to begin! So many specialties and aspects - it is never ending and exciting....
And we NEED GAME CHANGERS!
We are all one team, and I need you!!
Competition is going to take health care to new levels....but will it be GOOD or BAD new levels?
As a GAME CHANGER, we are looking for those people that are inventing what the next generation will be asking for. What people didn't even know they wanted. A trip to the moon. A driverless vehicle. A mobile, world connected device you can speak to that will obey your commands....
What are we looking for in dentistry? As a GAME CHANGER that's up to you to decide. The majority of people will just continue to "play the game" with the rules other people wrote.
My world is ALWAYS considering what will be next, and it's my goal to be the person working with the talented people to get us there.
In dentistry, I sincerely believe there is going to be a multi tiered market. There will be the every day dentistry. Which should continue to improve as people continue to get educated world wide on the importance of dental health. The food we eat, that powers the engine enters this important orfice....GAME CHANGERS will continue to educate and advance this goal. Players will continue to hope people come in for a check up and cleaning.
The every day root canal and filling will still happen. The players will fill these holes. likely keep filling them in a few years and then extract when all else fails. The FAME CHANGERS will perform these same procedures with longer lasting results using technology that reduces patient anxiety and pain. Using advanced materials that regenerate tooth structure.
The CBCT will become a standard of care for the game changers...and we are reaching a point where most players are realizing they need to play this game as well. GAME CHANGERS will use the comprehensive tool for diagnostic abilities well beyond what they learned in college. They will be attending classes to see how this tool can create much more comprensive treatment plans.
GAME CHANGERS will use AI to help diagnose xrays. Using the power of computing to increase the odds to the patients favour. Better outcomes.
We will watch as digital scanners become the standard of care with abilities we haven't even dreamed about - especially when combined with AI and other diagnostic products. What is to stop a scan from helping diagnose caries, create a customized patient portal where the treatment plan can be envisioned and executed by the game changers hands? Allowing a patient to see a changed cosmetic smile created at your office using a scan and software...
The Game Changers will find ways to perform what USED to be complicated procedures. Using technlogy to take out the complicated.
GAME CHANGING DENTAL REPS will understand that automated replenishment of supplies based on algorithms is just a matter of time. They won't be busy "playing the game" trying to cut prices on cotton rolls as this will already be done by the supplier and manufacturer. The GAME CHANGING rep of the future will consult and offer opportunities that the price players never even imagined....training others to use the technology that advances the cause for all of us.....