perfectionismI often hear dentists describe themselves as perfectionists, and it's easy to see why. It is a profession where skill is measured in microscopic margins, a profession that tends to attract those who proudly sweat the details. In that respect I understand the obsession with getting things perfect.

But there are three things to keep in mind when we talk about perfectionism.

  1. Context is important. Saying that you are a perfectionist in your work, and in your expectations for the team, can sound like you have simply set the highest standards, which is admirable. But unless you have the right systems, training, and support in place to allow people to reach and maintain those standards consistently, you are inevitably going to fall short of that standard. When that happens, a commitment to perfectionism can be a recipe for disappointment and discouragement. Which leads to my second point about perfectionism...

  2. It needs to be motivating. When we talk about perfectionism, especially with the team, it should always be in the context of an ideal outcome that we know is possible and that inspires and guides our actions. It should be exciting and motivating. In that sense, perfectionism is more than a standard you set; it is a mindset you use.

  3. Perfect is a moving target. This is an important thing to keep in mind. The very notion of perfectionism implies that there is an ideal that cannot be improved upon, and we all know that simply isn't true. The real beauty of ongoing personal and professional growth is that you never reach that moment where everything is perfect and will be forever—what you discover is a new level and a new way of seeing that opens up even more possibilities. When you look at it that way, you realize that although you always want to aspire toward perfection, you would never want to be truly perfect. You can be so much better than that.

If you find topics like this helpful, check out Imtiaz Manji's practice management courses available to you through our Course Library. Not yet a member of Digital Suite? Click here to learn more.


Commenter's Profile Image James Poyak
October 24th, 2014
Imtiaz, I always look forward to reading your posts and watching your videos. You have the gift of being like the arrows in the photo, right on target!. The challenge that I've wrestled with all of my career is finding the right systems and getting the training and support for the staff to help them reach the highest standards consistently. Where can we, as dentists, find these pieces of the puzzle? I know that Spear is starting some courses for the team in the coming year and those will certainly help. Do you know of other resources where we can learn more about setting the right systems, training, and support in place? Thanks. Jim
Commenter's Profile Image Imtiaz Manji
October 27th, 2014
That’s a great question, Jim. I agree that keeping your team aligned and engaged is one the biggest and most important challenges a dentist faces. You are right that we are developing team-centered workshops at Spear that I am quite excited about because it gives the people around you the opportunity to have that first-hand clarity and excitement that you get when you come away from a program. It’s also true of course that you can’t bring your team with you to every educational event you attend, so you have to find other ways to keep that energy and passion alive. If you haven’t seen them yet, I recommend taking a look at the Staff Training videos in our Course Library. There are courses for the whole team, as well for individual roles. And there is a whole section of videos designed to work as the focus of team meetings. It’s like having your own internal study club with the team, and the beauty is, you can go through these videos any time you want, at the pace you want.