man relaxing and leaning back in an office chair with his hands on his head

Have you ever had something weird get you thinking in a way you might not have otherwise considered? Take for example the socks my wife got as a gift from the owner of a motorcycle shop that I frequent in Chandler, Arizona.

As a motorsport aficionado, I found them super cool. They spell out “Fuel” on the toes and “You Wish” and they made us laugh when the shop owner said, “be careful, they say ‘EL FU’ if you reverse them.” On a fun and serious note, they got me thinking about the wishes I am making and how am I fueling those wishes.

We know things can get stressful in dentistry. Just think of all the demands we have placed on ourselves, not just from a clinical and patient standpoint, but also leading teams and managing the business side of our practices.

side by side images of black socks with red tips, the front left sock has white letters 'FU'and the right sock has 'EL'. The image of the souls of the socks say 'you' and 'wish' on the bottom.

So, how do we “fuel our wishes?” We know that our outlook and focus influence our viewpoints and state of mind. With that in mind, here’s what you have a choice to make in how you choose to fuel your wishes:

1. Your first choice could be to say, “EL FU,” and stop wishing and dreaming in favor of wallowing in self-pity.

It’s sad, isn’t it? As humans, it’s easy to succumb to negative thinking or, as I like to call it, “go to the dark side.” The fact of the matter is we will all go to the “dark side” sometimes. The key is to realize when you are and pull yourself out. Another great help in getting pulled out of this can be family, friends and/or team members. Keep in mind it goes both ways. If you see a relative, friend, or team member falling into this trap, help pull them out.

2. Another choice is to wish and dream — and stop there.

This is way better than going to the dark side. In moderation, it’s healthy. The key here is to remember some of this from time to time, since it’s too often unproductive and just a giant waste of time that will ultimately lead to never accomplishing anything.

3. Your last choice is to wish and dream, then take action on the right wishes and fuel them into existence! So how do you do this?

  • Surround yourself with the right people. This not only means recruiting and keeping the right people around. It also means you might have to say “bye” to some people that simply choose to live in option No. 1 above. Set goals. Don’t be afraid to dream big here! The key when going big is to break the large goal into manageable steps that will act as waypoints on the often-long road that is the reality with large goals.
  • Get third-party coaching/mentoring. Have you ever met anyone who’s at the pinnacle of their career who has not employed the help of a coach or mentor? You haven’t, right? Everyone benefits from outside observations and resultant input. The simple fact is fresh eyes and ears see and hear different things that we may have grown blind or deaf to.
  • When you slip up, or “crash your coffee” in your practice, don’t dwell on it, figure out how to not make the same mistake again and move on.

Alright now get out there and turn those wishes into dreams and then goals. Surround yourself with others that will help you stay positive and allow you to help them do the same.

Find what’s working and tweak the things that are not going exactly how you want and stop the stuff that’s not fueling you!

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