A Voice in the Arena: When Your Feet Hit the Floor by Dr. Chad Foster

A Voice in the Arena: When Your Feet Hit the Floor   

by Chad Foster, DDS, MS, editorial director


Avita In this month’s column, in honor of Memorial Day I would like to share a motivational visualization that’s close to my heart. My late Grandpa Pete, pictured at right, was a patrol torpedo boat captain in the South Pacific theater during World War II. If you don’t know what a PT boat is, picture a fast, light, off shore powerboat equipped with as much artillery as possible, typically operated during surprise attacks at night. (The photo at top shows Pete’s actual boat.)

In operation of the boat, my grandfather commanded a small crew of young men in their late teens and early 20s.

It’s easy for me at times to lose perspective on the unbelievable blessings in my life. In operating my practice, one of the daily challenges I face is motivating my team: centering their perspective and encouraging them to shine their own unique light in service to our patients. Some days, this is easy and flows in proportion to my general love for the practice; other days, it feels more manufactured and can be tough to muster up. When I’m in one of the latter days, where the energy flows a bit more like maple syrup, I sometimes picture Grandpa Pete before I step out of my car in the practice parking lot.

I specifically picture him in the morning, first waking up into the consciousness of his reality. He’s likely waking on a larger carrier vessel on a morning that will later demand another precarious excursion on his PT boat. He probably first thought about his family, whether this would be his last day, and that he’d rather be anywhere else in the world. After he sobered to the reality that much of his present circumstance was out of his control, I picture resolve washing over him and bringing his attention back to the circumstances within his day that he could control. From there, as his bare feet hit the cold metal floor beside his bed, I imagine his thoughts turned to the small group of men under his command.

Leading and motivating those very young men to do their jobs, against the better interests of their own survival instincts, was what Pete did have influence over and some degree of control. Selfishly, his life depended on it. Luckily, my grandfather went on to live a very big life after the war ended—in no small part because of his ability to lead those young men.

Renewed perspective and motivation The visualization has two core components: First, regardless of present challenges or problems looming on the horizon, center your perspective and invest your energy on the things over which you have a higher degree of influence or control. From one second to the next, this is truly where our effectiveness and a power beyond what we think we are capable of exists.

The second component of the visualization is the importance of influencing or motivating the people we engage with daily who directly affect the trajectory of our lives. In our practices, that is of course our team members. Regardless of how we may be feeling on a particular low-energy day, it’s hard to argue that what little energy we do have could be better invested than in those people.

A Voice in the Arena: When Your Feet Hit the Floor

Luckily, we face our daily orthodontic challenges without our lives hanging in the balance. (Thank you to our men and women who serve, including my dad, Dave, who served in Vietnam, pictured above.) Not every day comes with the stars perfectly aligned to invite your fullenergy, best self to the clinic floor. The next time you need to manufacture it, I hope this can be one visualization tactic in your back pocket.


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