If you want to see a great analogy about what it means to achieve personal and professional growth as a dentist, take the next 90 seconds to watch this:

Although he talks here in terms of “stress” and our reaction to it, I really see this as a story about growth and disturbance – a story that applies to the evolution of just about any independent dental practice.

As a dentist-owner, you should feel like a lobster at key points in your career, in the sense that as the practice gets busier, you should feel constrained in your shell. You should feel uncomfortable. And that feeling should motivate you to undergo a significant disturbance that will ultimately let you grow and expand your possibilities.

lobsterMany dentists don’t do this. They are like the imaginary lobsters who go to the doctor and get a pill to help them feel more comfortable in their tight shell. They find ways to accommodate the busyness and keep doing what they’re doing. But it is the false comfort of the “comfort zone.” Of course you must continue doing the things that got you to the point where you are ready to outgrow your current capacity. That is your foundation. But to build on that foundation, you also need to embrace the discomfort that comes with venturing into unfamiliar territory.

This is why I have spent a good portion of my career counseling dentists on the importance of “value transitions.” If you really want to get the most from your career in dentistry, you will recognize that a transition is not just about retirement; it is about maximizing practice value at every phase in your career. And the signal that you’re ready for a transition is the discomfort you feel in your current situation – the sense that your practice is just not optimizing its efficiency in serving your patients. It’s about coming out of your shell, whenever the need arises.

(Click on this link to watch Imtiaz’s online courses on dental practice transistion.)