cup and saucer mid spill with coffee splashing out

Ever experience a misstep or fumble during your day? Of course, you have. We all have. Ever stop to think about what it did to your day? Maybe, maybe not, right?

I’m betting if it was a little fumble, I would say it is less likely that you analyzed it. If it was a bigger fumble, I would bet that it got you to focus on it. If it was big enough, maybe you even beat yourself up all day long and, as a result, felt bad the rest of the day.

It’s time to think about changing your focus, to avoid these missteps and prevent them from impacting your day so significantly.

So, where does the phrase, “Quit crashing your coffee,” come into play? It’s a phrase that I learned first-hand from pro motorcycle racer Nick Ienatsch while attending his two-day Yamaha Champions Riding School course.

Ienatsch is the CEO and lead instructor of the popular riding school, author of several books and writer for Cycle World Magazine. When he talks about not crashing your coffee, he means keeping or sharpening your focus.

While riding can be rewarding, without focus, there can be big risk. The same sentiment can also be applied to the tasks we perform in dentistry.

As Ienatsch wrote for Cycle World: “Get focused on the small movements and actions of your body and notice that this focus almost always achieves a successful outcome.”

Let’s think about when you’re sitting at your computer and logging in. Ever mess it up your password and need to retype it? If so, you crashed your coffee. It was not a big deal and probably only cost you five seconds, but it messed you up and messed with your flow, even if only a little bit.

Why did it happen? Probably because you didn’t shift your focus to getting it right the first time. The same thing would apply if, for example, you were walking across the room and wanted to grab your cup of coffee as you went by. If you don’t shift your focus toward that cup as you pass, you’re going to crash your coffee.

Now, let’s think about crashing your coffee in a higher-stakes situation. Maybe you are delivering a crown or placing an ortho wire, or maybe it’s your gutta-percha or sutures. Better shift your focus as you move along the way. And what if you mess things up and crash your coffee?

First thing’s first. Take care of any issues that arise as a result. Next, figure out how to not do it again. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, realize it’s in the past.

Once you have a plan on how to not make the same mistake again, move forward. You can’t do anything about your last crash and if you continue dwelling on it, guess what? Your focus won’t be were you need it to be and you’ll be more likely to crash again, which is going to mess with your flow.

Now, get on with your day, keep your focus where it belongs and don’t crash your coffee!

John R. Carson, D.D.S., is a member of Spear Visiting Faculty and contributor to Spear Digest.