Build Bridges To Grow Your Practice

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

It’s kind of funny to have a picture of a Disney princess and a quote by Sun Tzu, but both have relevance to today’s post.

Our Orthopreneurs Facebook group is over 1000 members strong at the time of me writing this blog and though I haven’t done any demographic studies, I know from requests to enter the group that it skews young. Here’s a lesson to all of my younger (and some of my older) colleagues.

My mantra today, to anyone or anything that gets me even slightly upset is “kill them with kindness”. When in doubt, do more and give more and realize there’s more than enough to go around and “don’t sweat the small stuff”. I generally don’t even sweat the big stuff either.

However, when I was a younger clinician, there were a few things that made my day to day existence tough, but none was tougher than feeling like I was a small boat on a very big ocean, often being tossed about by forces over which I had zero control.

Banks controlled my lending, bosses controlled my associateship, insurance companies controlled my fees, where I worked controlled the team I worked with, etc. I felt like there was little I could do to control my own life. I was totally wrong, and that’s a post for another day, but eventually I got my own practice and was able to control my future in a way that made me feel much more comfortable. I could hire my own team members, choose my own location, set my own fees, etc. Life had to be easier, right? How wrong I was.

I was now thrust into the world of business, completely unprepared for what lay ahead and that’s where I learned the valuable lesson of not “burning bridges”. You see, I had been an associate for 4 years and had taken a lot of crap. That’s the nature of being an associate and I feel like in NY it was even worse because of the density of doctors, competition, and let’s be honest….some REALLY tough patients and employers.

While anyone who knows me also knows that I am the most optimistic person you’ll ever find, one of my early faults was being very impulsive and reactionary, something you’ll find in a lot of younger professionals who feel lost and out of control. There is a need to try to gain control over any aspect of their lives because much of it is outside of their control.  

My “cup” had been filled with so much outside negativity that when I finally got the freedom of my own place, it seemed easy to say “that patient isn’t nice, I’m going to dismiss them” or “that team member doesn’t seem to agree with me, so I’m going to get rid of them” or, “that lab gave me back a bad result, goodbye to them”.  

Worse yet, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Newtonian physics applies to our business and personal lives; For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Never forget that.

There was a post the other day in which we discussed a dentist who acted selfishly and tried convince a patient I referred to consider veneers instead of braces. There were a lot of comments such as “I’d never work with them again” or “no more goodie drops to that office”.  As clinicians, keep in mind the concept of “burned bridges”.

Never burn a bridge behind you that you can’t go back over. Don’t unnecessarily piss off a NSD (non specialist dentist) or an employee you are letting go or a vendor with whom you are no longer going to work. Don’t flippantly give up on people in any relationship. Don’t get angry at them; kill them with kindness.

Have honest, heart to heart talks with those who create stress in your life. While you may not agree with them and may never work with them again (or at least think that right now) keep all opportunities open for the future. Life has a funny way of coming back around.

So, the next time that NSD does someone really nasty, and you start to get upset, just let it go. Don’t do anything rash and don’t respond until you cool off. Try to play the game of figuring out how to do something that will solve your problem AND not cut them out of your life as a potential referrer and friend. You’ll feel really happy instead of really upset and it will only help your practice flourish.

All the best,

If you’re not a member of our Orthopreneurs Facebook group, there are only two requirements: You’re an orthodontist and you want to join a group of like minded peers who have come together to solve our common business problems. Click HERE to learn more.