Is It Time for a Mid-Career Makeover?
“I don’t want to be a product of my environment,” Jack Nicholson says at the beginning of The Departed, “I want my environment to be a product of me.” It’s a great line, I think, because we too often forget the power we have to shape our surroundings and make them reflect who we are.
This is especially true of mid-career dentists, most of whom have the resources (whether they realize it or not) to make their environment anything they want it to be, but many of whom are stuck in a stifling comfort zone of inertia when it comes to updating their facilities.
Is your facility holding you back? Are you ready for a rejuvenating mid-career makeover? Give yourself honest answers to these four questions:
1. Do I love coming into my practice each day?
It always amazes me how people who will accept nothing less than exactly the right shade of green for the guest room walls at home will compromise when it comes to outfitting their most important asset: The value and success that drives everything else in their life.
Your practice is your home. It’s where you live for the better part of your time during these income-generating years. Doesn’t it make sense to make it the best home you can, for you and the people around you? Going through your working life in a practice that doesn’t make you feel good, that doesn’t inspire you to elevate your game, makes no more sense than going through life wearing shoes that don’t fit.
2. How well does the practice environment communicate my value to patients?
Like it or not, you’re in a battle with other retailers and other services for your patients’ discretionary dollars, so you have to be able to influence decisions the way the best businesses do. This doesn’t mean you have to convert your facility to a spa-style boutique and start offering massages, but your practice should reflect your personality and project an image, whether it’s a high-tech experience or a family-friendly one, in a powerful way.
3. Have I given the team a context in which they can excel?
You see it in sports all the time: a player goes from a mediocre team to a championship team and suddenly starts performing at a higher level. It’s about creating a culture of success. If you want your people to deliver first-class patient care, you have to give them the right context in which to work, one that creates an expectation for a heightened level of performance.
4. If I were a new dentist, would I be attracted to this facility?
Sooner or later a new dentist will be looking at your practice with an appraising eye—either as a potential associate if you’re growing, or a potential buyer if you’re leaving—and when they do they will come with certain expectations. It’s not just technology, either. If you have disco-era furniture in the waiting area, or vintage operatory chairs, you’re sending the wrong message about your practice’s ongoing viability—a message that any browsing dentist will pick up on within minutes. If you want to attract the best people, you have to demonstrate that you are not just in the game, you’re a contender.
Don’t let yourself be limited by the circumstances you find yourself in now. Create new circumstances—make your environment a product of you, as Jack would say—and discover how good it feels to arrive at work and feel comfortable, energized and completely at home.