I was having a great conversation with one of my most respected and beloved orthodontic friends last night. She’s an amazing “emotional” balance to my “driver” style and the conversation of moms in orthodontics came up.
I am genuinely amazed at how working moms are able to hold it all together irrespective of the age of their kids and their stage in practice. The challenges they must face have to be enormous and as the son of a woman who went back to school when I was 10, my “hat is off” to every person, male or female who pushes through their daily personal struggles, be it emotional, physical, financial or otherwise to go to work and put patients first.
I also want to clarify any misconceptions about previous posts I’ve made regarding “work harder”. I’m a sole breadwinner for my family of 5 and like many of you, if I don’t earn it, my school and don’t get paid, my mortgage could be late and food on the table could be an issue. So, please don’t misconstrue, my former remarks to mean anything but the following: If you want more, you need to work to get it. Practice ownership is an amazing meritocracy. The more you work on your practice/life/business/skill, etc., the better it will be. It’s a linear relationship and it doesn’t care about any excuses or personal limitations. It’s not emotions, just fact, and we can’t change the rules.
I remember the stories of Jerry Rice, arguably the greatest wide receiver of his generation who had a workout that was named after him and a hill so hard to run that most others gave up. He worked when his teammates went out drinking or worked out less. His hard work allowed him to be the best of his generation and he focused ON his game and not the other distractions. Most just saw his grace on the field and assumed he was just “gifted”. Those in the league knew otherwise.
I have a wife who understands that there are many nights we aren’t going out to the movies or we’re not going on a trip because I need to work on the practice. “Work/life” balance is a choice, not a requirement, and I’ve found that my work/life balance comes from security knowing that my practice is solvent, not being home at 5pm. I know that’s not how many people feel but my wife and I have been happily married for 23 years and it works for us because we talked about what it would take years ago and she was on-board, the same way that being home at 5pm and going out and having fun every weekend night may work for you. No matter your situation, everyone has some free time at some point and how we choose to spend it is up to us, right? I just like working on my practice.
Before you get all in an uproar, I’m active in my faith and things like boy scouts and camping and dinners with the family and yes, I do have friends I spend time with, but like the kid in school who wants to be valedictorian, I consciously make an effort to be actively engaged in my practice over my social life 9 times out of 10. Yes, it’s a personal choice that I don’t force on anyone else and when my kids go to bed and I’m tired, I go to work on my practice until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. I also LOVE every second of working on my practice and I genuinely hope that everyone out there experiences the kind of joy I get when I come up with plans and systems to make my practice stronger and more efficient.
I used to listen to a motivational tape on my way to work (yes, a cassette tape) and it was “10 steps to success” by a famous basketball coach. These were the podcasts of the 1990’s. Step 10 was “Stay Successful” and his point was that when we’ve done everything right, we need to work as hard as we did to get there or it will all go downhill, just like the practice of that 75 year old that was driven into the ground with neglect.
If your practice life is exactly where you want it to be and you don’t need it to be any bigger or more successful, that’s awesome. If my comments have made you question your effort and work harder and get more, I’m thrilled. If I’ve made you angry, good. But if I’ve hurt you in any way, or made you feel as if I’ve belittled your struggles in any way, please accept this apology and know that I am there for you in any way you need me. Please reach out, no strings attached, and I will help you in any way I can.
All the best,
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