November is the month that we express our thanks to those who deserve it.
Thank you to my amazing wife who encourages, supports and loves me day in and day out, even on the days when I don’t deserve it.
Thank you to my family for putting up with my sick sense of humor and compulsive idiosyncrasies.
Thank you to my friends for laughing at my jokes more than my family does, and for tolerating the fact that out of my enthusiasm, that I sometimes speak more than I listen.
Thank you to Kelly and the wonderful group of coaches who make up Smile Potential. I am so proud of how you help doctors and their teams fulfill their dreams for success on a daily basis.
Thank you to the doctors and their teams who put their trust in us and for the privilege of allowing us to help them grow their practices, lower their stress and deliver a higher standard of care.
And last, but not least, thank you to all of you who read this newsletter on a monthly basis. I hope that once or twice each year that I am able to write something that enables you to find a way to do something easier or better, and that it makes a positive contribution to the growth of your practice or to improving your life in some small way.
When we create a vision for our dental practice, we are essentially creating the treatment plan of what will become our legacy. Later on, because our visions change as we progress through our career, it can be assumed, then, that our legacies change as well.
Throughout my career, my mission has been to make a difference in people’s lives. For most of that time I always viewed that this mission could be applied to the ways that my dentistry changed the lives of my patients, removing pain, providing comfort, eliminating infection, restoring health, overcoming embarrassment, creating opportunities and changing the way they looked, felt and felt about themselves. For the most part I believe that I accomplished what I had set out to do.
Along the way, I enjoyed the ride. I found great meaning in the relationships that I made with my patients. I enjoyed asking them about their families and I found it gratifying when they would ask about mine. I enjoyed feeling that I was more than their dentist, that I was also a friend. Many of the patients confided in me, and that often times that made me feel that I was a therapist and crossing over into the role that my wife had always occupied for the patients in her therapy practice.
In order to accomplish this mission I developed an understanding, very early on, that the most important people in my practice were my team. I knew that if I treated my team like gold, they would play it forward to my patients. I was careful to absorb women into our team who displayed warmth and exhibited sincere caring. I never tried to motivate them, for I knew that trying to motivate anyone is merely trying to manipulate them. Instead, I strived to inspire in each of them to an internal phenomenon of becoming motivated. I did this by constantly being aware that they would become motivated if I reinforced the things that gave them satisfaction by working in our practice, and by removing things that would be considered dissatisfying. I knew that culture was something that occurred either by accident or purposefully and that anyone entering our office would feel it organically.
I believe my patients felt the positivity in my practice. I know my team felt it, because many of the women who worked for me, through the time I retired from practice, still tell me and write to me that they appreciated the respect and appreciation that they felt from everyone. No one felt more privileged than me to be able to enjoy the type of culture that existed in our practice, often times in spite of me.
Recently, I experienced an epiphany. During this past summer a family member of one of my previous team members passed away. I encountered some of the “old” team members at the memorial service on a Friday morning. One of the women invited me to a lunch get together the following afternoon to comfort our team member. When I arrived that sunny Saturday afternoon I was amazed to see that nearly all of the women who worked with me in my practice over a 15 year period, ending in 2015, were there. Furthermore, while I always knew that they were friendly, I had not realized that they were now the best of friends…all of them. We shared stories that afternoon that only dentists and dental team members can appreciate about their office experiences. And then it hit me…my legacy had nothing to do with the dentistry we performed. The legacy of our practice had become the relationships that were born out of an amazing culture. These relationships are lasting far longer than the shared work experience. Most of them will last a lifetime and will outlast me, and I find that so comforting and exhilarating.
What will be your legacy? Will it be that you helped people, or will it be that you made a lot of money? Will it be that you constantly strived for perfection in your care, or that you survived a stressful career? Hopefully your legacy will include some consideration of the effect your life had on others. Wouldn’t if be wonderful if those individuals included the men and women who shared the mission, and that in turn gave all of you a greater sense of shared and mutual fulfillment.
Thank you Mercedes, Denise, Francine, Lucrezia, Amanda, Ashley, Sherry, Jackie, Dorothy, Espy, Priscilla, Heather and Lesly, from Smiles On Broadway, and Kelly, Donna, Jamie, Judy and Yana, (in addition to Mercedes, Lucrezia, Denise and Amanda) from Smile Potential.