Moving past the chaos

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

Moving past the chaos

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complete disorder and confusion.
synonyms: disorder, disarray, disorganization, confusion, mayhem, bedlam, pandemonium, madness, havoc, turmoil, tumult, commotion, disruption, upheaval, furor, frenzy, uproar, hue and cry, babel, hurly-burly; More

Working inside a dental practice can be chaotic at times, as an unexpected phone call or two …or three…can put problems on our schedule that we are not ready for. Additionally, we can have equipment failure, team member illnesses, power outages, and snowstorms, just to name a few.

To quote a bumper sticker I once saw, “Life is difficult, and then you die.”

This of course, is the cynic’s perspective with a little raw humor thrown in for good measure. But it does not need to be our mindset, and it certainly does not need to be our lifestyle.

There is no doubt that the practice of dentistry is full of unexpected curve balls, unproductive left turns, remediation, rebuilding, and struggle. For some, these things happen more often -and for others less.

If you are in the “more often” category, it becomes easier over time to feel victimized…by others…by situations…by our own decisions, hence – ourselves. It can become easier to feel helpless. It can become easier to feel hopeless. And from there, easier surrender to it all and just view everything as inevitable, so why, ‘rock the boat’…why not just focus on just getting through the day?

The practice of dentistry can quickly turn into the practice of drudgery if we have no over-arching purpose beyond income and paying the bills. This is why L.D. Pankey repeatedly talked about “The Cross of Dentistry.” And this is why Bob Barkley wanted every dentist to create their very own and deeply personalized practice philosophy.

Having and owning a deeply held philosophy is key, because the purpose of a philosophy is the pursuit of the truth. Therefore a philosophy is not THE answer…that’s dogma…rather, it is A PATHWAY TOWARD THE ANSWERS.

And the answers can be moving objects which need to be regularly re-evaluated, re-prioritized, and sometimes even abandoned.

So having a philosophy is like having a master tool we can use to apply to the problems we face each and every day. It helps us to respond instead of react. From there it reduces the chaos around us, because more things start to make sense to us- even when they first appear to be crazy and arrive unexpectedly.

If we can get ourselves to a place where our whole Care Team shares a philosophy, then we have reached the next critical level, as less direction needs to be given…people respond intuitively and appropriately. Often at this stage of practice development, you will watch things happen around you, and you will think, “Damn she was good at managing that crazy situation…I never could have taught her how to do that.”

The highest level of practice development is “Community,” where the Team has become a synergistic social organism focused on growing and advancing a deeply held and worthwhile purpose which is much greater than the sum total of the people within it. And that is when a practice transcends ‘doing’ and focuses more and more on ‘being.’

So, it all begins – and ends – with mindset. Mindsets either make things more clear and understandable, or they make every day feel like another chaotic fire drill.

We have a choice, we can “choose to choose.” We can choose to live and practice differently and in a way which is much more in alignment with who we are, and who we want to become through philosophy…that dusty old topic you perhaps thought was only the concern of academics and historians.

Paul A.Henny, DDS


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