First of all my thoughts and prayers go out to all of you who have tested positive, have family or friends who have tested positive or who are on the front lines of fighting this virus. Stay Strong. And for the rest of us - stay healthy.
I don't know who needs to hear this message right now but I know some of you do.
I think it's important during these difficult times to keep perspective on our lives as dentists.
To start, let’s get one thing straight - we are essential services.
Are things going to be difficult when we get back? Sure!
But there is ONLY ONE THING that's going to get you through this time and the foreseeable future...
It's not going to be deferring loans, it's not going to be the banks, it’s not going to be our landlords or utility companies, it’s not going to be our government or our legislators. Those things will be helpful - but there is only one thing that is essential.
What is going to get you through this is the power of your thoughts - and your mind.
Only you control your thoughts. Nobody else and nothing else has the power to control what you think.
Your thoughts are what create your feelings and your feelings create action which create your results. You bring about what you think about.
So if you have a negative story you're telling to yourself in your head right now you need to stop - or you may never recover from this. You need to control those thoughts. You need to change them.
What if your thoughts were - no matter what happens I'm going to make it through.
No matter what happens I'm going to come out of this bigger, better, and stronger.
No matter what happens I am essential.
Are we putting people at risk by practicing right now? Yes - will that last forever - absolutely not!
You have to start telling yourself a story of perseverance, of positivity, of determination, of will and of strength. And put that story on REPEAT.
You need THAT story right now - your team needs it right now - your patients need it right now - your family needs it right now.
Are there going to be those of us who don't make it through this - whose practices close shop, who retire early? Possibly - but I want you to know - you're the one who has the power to make sure that those things don't happen to you!
It starts with how you're thinking about this entire situation - you can't control the situation - we're all in the same circumstance and you can't change that.
But what you CAN control is the way you think about it!
In the words of Bill Gates - THIS CAN EITHER BE AN END OR A NEW BEGINNING.
Your thoughts become things. Every single thing you have in life right now started with a thought. AND inversely - the only reason you don’t have something in your life right now is because you gave up the thought you could ever have it.
If there is a continuous loop in your head that you're going to lose your practice, your patients or your team over this you know what's going to happen - you're going to lose your practice, your patients and your team. YOU BRING ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT.
If you're telling yourself everyday that you are non-essential you're going to go back into practice and create that reality! YOU BRING ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT.
If the self-talk in your head only revolves around telling yourself you're stressed and overwhelmed - you are going to continue to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Take control of that self talk now! YOU BRING ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT.
Now don't get me wrong - am I saying that we're all going to go back to practice and continue on the way we have been for the last 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 years??
Probably not - at least for the first while. We are all going to have to figure out how our new normal looks. But there will be a new normal.
However, if you give up now, if you let those thoughts in your head control your feelings and hence your actions - you are not going to like the results you get.
Your mind is the most powerful tool that we have! Use it wisely.
Is life after this likely going to be different than what you're used to - sure!
Are you likely going to have to do more basic dentistry - more Class 2 fillings, more basic extractions, more root canals and other bread and butter stuff? Sure - but this is exactly what we are trained to do and only WE CAN DO - we have a set of skills that nobody else has!
Non-essential my ASS!! Our patients will always need this!!
Is this likely going to mean less vacations for you and your family until you financially get back on your feet - maybe for some us.
Will it mean working more to make up for lost income - possibly.
Could it mean having to move so that you are in an underserved part of the country and thus can generate more income - maybe.
Is this going to mean having to defer loans and put them on the back and then make balloon payment at the end - maybe.
Will this mean you pay more interest - yes.
Is this going to mean having to take out more loans to make it through this time of lost revenue to cover overheads - likely.
But remember - we're professionals.
Most of us have at least two degrees. We have huge income earning potential that others simply do not have. We will always have teeth to fix!
There's never going to be a world where we are not needed and where we cannot make money. Always remember we have a set of skills that no others possess.
I had a really great mentor once tell me that IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM THAT CAN BE SOLVED WITH MONEY IT'S NOT REALLY A PROBLEM.
Keep that in mind now - as I said - we need some perspective.
Dentistry is an amazing profession and we are an essential service.
We will get back to normal - we will be able to make money again!
Take this gift of time and instead of wallowing in sorrow for what has happened - use the time to figure out your game plan and your strategy to come out of this better and stronger. MAKE THAT YOUR STORY!
Because what's your alternative??
Truly think about it - what's the alternative - to sit in pain and discomfort and uncertainty and angst about what's to come?I guess you could CHOOSE that...
BUT what if I served a bunch of feelings up to you on two silver platters and I said here you can choose:
On one platter you can choose to be hopeful, determined, gutsy, inspired - and those feelings drive you into action - which gets you results.
Action to create contingency plans, to reach out to all available resources, to get out of your comfort zones, to create systems, to build your leadership, to reach out to your patients, to reach out to your team! And get results!!
Let's see those actions! You just might get results that you never even thought were possible!!
Or the alternative is you can choose feelings from that second platter of helplessness, worry, anxiety, loss, suffering and with those feelings what are your actions??
Zoning out with mindless TV (ok I’ll admit I watched Tiger King!!), getting angry, drinking too much, eating too much, not taking care of your body, not taking care of your mind!
What are the results you are going to get with those actions? I’d argue nothing great.
So which platter are you going to choose from?
I don't know any person on earth who would actually consciously choose the hopelessness platter of feelings - yet we unconsciously do all the time! Stop it!
My message during this unprecedented time in our world is that you still have the power to make clear choices of how you react and respond to this crisis. You cannot control what is happening to you but you can control how you think about it and how you react to it.
You still and always will have the power to determine your future - even in the face of uncertainty.
It’s your choice - choose wisely.