Leading the (Re-)Charge by Jay Geier

Leading the (Re-)Charge 

Replenish your enthusiasm and energy by connecting with motivated, successful peers

by Jay Geier

If you’re new in the business, you’ve probably already discovered a lot of things the hard way. In other words, no one told you up front what to expect with so many facets of practice ownership. In addition to business management, two realities in particular blindside doctors from the get-go. If you don’t intentionally take steps to overcome them, you will suffer negative consequences throughout your career.

TYPICAL EXPECTATION: You were energized by learning and applying the science of orthodontics throughout your many years of education. You’re confident that your clinical skills will make your practice successful in the short and long term.

REALITY: As much as the science energized you in school, practicing orthodontics all day long is physically and mentally taxing. As good as you feel about what you accomplished for your patients, you are utterly worn out at the end of the day.

TYPICAL EXPECTATION: Nearly every doctor believes they’re a “people person.” After all, you probably went into the profession because you wanted to help people. You knew you’d be interacting with patients every day, so you must be good with people, right?

REALITY: Interfacing with patients using your clinical skills calls for an entirely different set of people skills than those required to manage, motivate, lead, train and develop all the individuals and teams who will make or break the success of your practice. A team that is not high-performing will drain you mentally and emotionally—all day, every day.

Perpetual depletion and procrastination

When you’re being drained throughout the day, you don’t have energy left over to tackle necessary business matters, solve problems, and deal with personnel and performance issues. So you put things off until another day when you assume you’ll feel more up to the task. The to-do list gets longer and the issues get bigger, now requiring even more energy.

Low energy puts you in a vicious cycle characterized by:
  • Procrastinating.
  • Neglecting to act on good ideas or solutions.
  • Failing to give your people what they need to help you succeed.
  • Hiding in your office.
  • Making excuses.
  • Lacking the confidence to look past a problem and believe you can solve it, even if you don’t know how.
The pandemic was and continues to be an exhausting experience like no other we’re likely to see again. Even the most successful practice owners have struggled to recover from the loss of team members while coping with their own personal and family challenges as well as the effects of isolation. Additionally, the individuals on your team want to tap into you for energy and reassurance that their lives will be OK— of course you’re fatigued!

The most common remedy is to get together with local colleagues and form a support group, but support groups usually just make everyone feel worse. Misery loves company, because it allows those not doing well to feel better about their own level of dysfunction. You end up helping one another invent excuses: bad economy, too few patients in a small town, too much competition in a big town, corporations are ruining independents, lack of good talent, and on and on.

Commiserating with others who are in the same situation because they also lack solutions does no one any good—you all walk away feeling hopeless. This is a devastating outcome of the so-called support group, particularly for new practice owners.

Engineering your energy

Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into conversations that further sap energy and feed a defeatist attitude. Instead, talk to people who will infuse energy and optimism back into your mindset. Seek out successful colleagues, advisors, coaches and mentors from whom you can learn proven solutions and insights.

On the personal side, establish healthy lifestyle habits that let you bring your A-game every day—sleep, exercise, nutrition and spiritual nourishment. These will boost your attitude and physical energy as well as your mental fortitude to believe in yourself.

A year and a half ago, I initiated a regular podcast to help keep people connected, focused and energized. Then, last year we got back to holding on-site trainings, live workshops and events, where people from all over the country candidly share ideas and helpful advice while discussing what they’re doing to solve problems and turn challenges into opportunities. When participants encountered others who infused them with optimism and solutions, we witnessed a transformation in their attitudes and energy.

With your own high energy comes the capacity to infuse energy into your team and do what’s needed to get a new practice started off right while continuing to grow and be successful throughout the years.

  • Recruit, train, develop, motivate, lead and coach a high-performing team.
  • Create a patient-centric culture.
  • Set goals and targets and performance-tracking systems and hold people accountable for results.
When starting a new practice, understand and accept that regardless of how much energy you have, you will always need more. As we age, our energy is more easily depleted. Learning to engineer energy-infusing relationships, circumstances and habits early in your career will keep you mentally and physically fit to meet the demands of a profitable and growing practice. A bonus is that you will also have more energy for your relationships, family, friends and community.

Ask yourself tough questions

The human brain has an unlimited capacity to deceive, particularly when it comes to deceiving yourself. Asking yourself these tough questions as you’re getting started in business will have career-long benefits:

“Am I investing in myself to gain the business and people skills I need to be a successful business owner and leader of a high-performing team?”
Seek out the skills you weren’t taught in school. You can’t run a practice without them, so the sooner you learn, the better.

“Am I coachable? Am I open to learning from others new ways to run and staff a practice?”
There is no problem you’ll encounter that hasn’t already been solved. Connect yourself with the right resources so you don’t waste time reinventing the wheel, and be open to learning about new and different shapes of wheels that may roll contrary to how you were told to run a practice.

“Am I hanging around with people who push me, inspire me, challenge me and question me? Or am I hanging around people who allow me to make excuses and make me believe I have no control?”
Take inventory and make some changes. Join communities that will support and energize you and seek out a proven coach or mentor who will help hold you accountable to yourself and your goals.

Successful people are lifelong learners. We remain committed to improving, growing and seeking out new knowledge and ideas. Instead of following the masses, I encourage you to learn what it takes to stand out in front by tapping into content that no one else will tell you.

Author Bio
Author Jay Geier, a global authority on growing independent practices, is the founder and CEO of the Scheduling Institute, a firm that specializes in training doctors to transform their private practices into thriving businesses. Geier also keeps doctors energized and enlightened with proven, business-building strategies via his Private Practice Playbook podcast. Subscribe at podcastfordoctors.com/otown.
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