20 years ago, shortly after I purchased my practice, I had a patient who was THAT patient. You know, the one who always shows up late, never pays his bills, has a gag reflex, can’t be reclined in the chair, always complains about your fee and treats your team like garbage. I finished a bunch of work and he complained to me about something stupid. I don’t mean to dismiss his complaint because all complaints are important to me and they don’t happen too often, but this one was different. He wanted his money back for a filling because of some sensitivity. It was about $300 and remember, this guy was a real jerk. He threatened to tell the dental board, and all of his friends. (There was no such thing as Google reviews or Yelp or Facebook back then. Today, the consequences are faster and broader reaching.)
I was angry. Really angry. I considered my options and felt that I wasn’t going to be blackmailed by this jerk. I was going to stand my ground and called my attorney, who asked me how much of a pain this guy was. I replied: “A huge pain in the butt. He makes me so angry.” He then gave me advice that has stayed with me to this day. He said: “If he makes you that angry, isn’t it worth $300 to get him out of your life forever?” My attorney was 100% correct. I had the patient sign a waiver, dismissed him from my practice, paid him the $300, moved on, never heard from him again and that was that. Best money I ever spent.
My point is that every day I watch younger doctors agonize over ideas and money that are so small compared to the bigger picture, and worse yet, they’re making stupid, small-minded, low-cost decisions that have way bigger karmic and practice growth repercussions. If doing something costs a few dollars more but makes your life happy, do it.
If that “pain in the butt” mom asks for $250 back because you got done early, write the rest off and move on. If your assistant wants an extra $15 gas money for a delivery she made but you think it’s only worth $5, pay her $20 with a smile on your face. That patient with 3 kids who wants you to give them an additional discount of $300 to start the case is a no-brainer decision. Yes, donating a completely free set of braces for the school auction is an awesome idea. When someone comes to work for your office, overpay them for the working interview even if they weren’t a great assistant. (You are paying working interviewees, right?)
You’ll hear me say it all the time…#AbundanceMentality Don’t be stubborn just because you think you’re right. Nobody cares except you.
Yeah, some of you are saying “Glenn, why should I pay that patient if I’m right and they’re wrong?” or “If I pay that person, won’t everyone else find out?” or “If I donate a free auction item, what if their case is tough?” or other small-minded questions. That’s an altogether different blog post and I’ll get to that, but for now, let’s stay on the topic of your mental well being.
I’m not saying that you should always just throw money at every problem and overpay for everything. What I am saying is that doing the right thing and moving on and leaving others with a positive impression not only is good for you, but makes you feel better. If you’re stingy and that’s not your approach, change your attitude. Now. If you can’t get over it, go see a therapist. So many great things in my life have come from an abundance mentality and when I made that mindset switch years ago, it changed my life and I haven’t looked back.
Today, try it one time and see how it feels. Don’t expect the universe to instantly pay you back in terms of cash, but it should definitely make you feel really good, and isn’t that why we wake up every morning?
All the best,
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