Which of These 20 Bad Habits is Holding YOU Back?

Are you looking for the secret to a bigger, better, more profitable, lower stress orthodontic practice? Come closer, because I have the secret….are you ready? It’s not about your orthodontic skills or techniques. Yeah, seriously. It’s not. I know, that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s true.
Think of the most successful and happy clinicians. Generally, they aren’t the world’s finest clinicians. Please don’t misunderstand me. Of course, you have to turn out a good product when you work on patients but if you listen to the experts in leadership and management, it’s YOU that’s holding you back in your practice and in your life.  Their message is that you’re probably spending way too much of your time wondering how to be a better orthodontist and way too little time learning how to be a better leader and person.
We’re all looking for that next nugget, gem or product that’s going to change our practices, but we really need to be looking inward at ourselves. Every “great” clinician I know has at least one character trait that, if corrected, could lower the stress in their practice life or propel their practice to greater heights. Don’t believe me? Listen to Marshall Goldsmith, world-renowned CEO leadership coach.
In his acclaimed 2007 book, “What got you here won’t get you there” Goldsmith explains that for most successful people, they get to where they are with a lot of hard work and some luck, in spite of their personality flaws, and to reach the next level of achievement, they need to correct these flaws.
Below is the list of 21 “Bad Habits” Goldsmith lists in his book. He cautions readers not to be too hard on themselves because while you may recognize 6-8 of them in your life, most of the time they aren’t holding you back (your family, friends and teams accept them as part of who you are). It’s those 1 or 2 that really keep you from being the best “you” that you can be, and they genuinely tick off those around you.
As I read the list, I laughed out loud because I saw items that I currently struggle with as well as others I used to have problems with when I was younger but spent a lot of time overcoming. Moreover, I see these traits over and over again in the posts I moderate online. The answer to the queries of many trying to growing their practices and lower their stress is so obvious when compared against this list.
So, take a peek at that list and step back for a minute, listen to Goldsmith’s advice, and pick a couple of these habits to work on in the next 12 months. Be an active coach to yourself and see the impact it has on your life. While trying to become a better clinician, spend a lot more time focusing on becoming a better YOU.
Here is Goldmsith’s list of “bad habits” that hold back most in higher “executive” positions:

  1. Winning too much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations.
  2. Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our 2 cents to every discussion.
  3. Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.
  4. Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us witty.
  5. Starting with NO, BUT, HOWEVER: The overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone that I’m right and you’re wrong.
  6. Telling the world how smart we are: The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.
  7. Speaking when angry: Using emotional volatility as a management tool.
  8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”: The need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren’t asked.
  1. Withholding information: The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.
  2. Failing to give proper recognition: The inability to give praise and reward.
  3. Claiming credit that that we don’t deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.
  4. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.
  5. Clinging to the past: The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.
  6. Playing favorites: Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.
  7. Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.
  8. Not listening: The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.
  9. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.
  10. Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.
  11. Passing the buck: The need to blame everyone but ourselves.
  12. An excessive need to be “me”: Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.

Which ones are issues for you? If you’re not sure, ask those around you. It’s easy to shrug this off and go back to orthodontic clinical learning, which is our comfort zone, but that would be a mistake. Take this to heart (as I did) and work on you more than your ortho because while your outcomes affect your practice, these habits affect every aspect of your life.
All the best,
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