I often have orthodontists tell me: “I have a busy life and can’t commit any more time to my practice.” Today, I am asking you to challenge yourself if you want to have the practice of your dreams. You have more you can give…if you want to.
There was a time when I trained for triathlons. Nothing big, but amidst all of the biking and swimming, one of my weekly workouts was a simulated sprint of a 5k run. I was living in Seattle and it was a hilly course, and while I was never a very good or fast runner, I enjoyed it.
About 6 months into my running life, and right after my first sprint triathlon, I found myself stuck at around 24 minutes for my 5K. Certainly a respectable time but I knew I could do better. But, no matter how I attacked my pre-set course, I would always finish within 10 seconds of my 24 minute standard time. Then one night everything changed.
I remember lying in bed thinking about my run the next morning. I had just seen a film about the legendary runner Steve Prefontaine and something his character said in the movie. I couldn’t shake the quote from my head.
From the movie:
“I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.”
I asked myself if I could push myself harder during my 5K training and endure more than I already was. I was crossing my “finish line’ exhausted every time and didn’t think I had a lot more in me, but I promised myself that the next morning, I would dig deep and push myself to my limits.
The next morning, I ran harder than I ever had, allowed myself to push through the limits of the pain I had previously endured and came across the line at 21:17. That’s a 6:52 mile pace!!! If you’re not a runner, it may be hard to realize what had just happened, but for a guy relatively new to running, who had been pushing and training pretty hard, greater than 1 minute per mile drop in time is MASSIVE!!! Best of all, that time because my new time to beat and I continued to lower it from there. I never became an elite runner, but that one incredible morning changed the way I looked at pushing through limits in my life.
The lesson I learned was that when I felt that I had reached my limit, when I felt there was nothing left for me to give, there was always something more I could reach down and produce. It’s a lesson that has carried over into my practice life.
I have three kids and an amazing wife. Yes, I spend time with them but my practice is my 4th child. The more I push myself to continuously grow and innovate the practice, the more the products allow me to enjoy my personal life. The more I push myself to travel and visit other offices and take cutting-edge CE courses, the more my patients benefit. I don’t want to get on a plane to a course or office, or sit on the couch at 11pm working on a marketing plan, or work up a pro forma at 5AM but I know that if I don’t, I won’t be giving my all to my practice or my patients. I’m not saying that you need to change your personal life. Just give that extra bit of time (when you think you don’t have it) to help your practice be all it can be. Irrespective of your personal life, if you’re a business owner, your business needs the attention it deserves to grow. Sure, there are times in all of our lives when acute situations prevent us from being able to spend the time we like, but over the long haul, the more you push yourself in your practice life, the more you will reap the rewards.
Everyone’s life circumstances are different, but if you think you’re giving everything you can to your practice life, I’m willing to bet there’s just a tiny bit more you can do every day to innovate, to grow, to market, to produce better outcomes. Sure there are times when you’re wiped out, where all you want to do is simply sit down and take a deep breath, and that’s totally OK. But, think back to my story and the time when I thought I had no more to give and ultimately found that there was A LOT more than I imagined left in the gas tank.
Please don’t misunderstand the message. Don’t grow your practice at the expense of your personal and family life. But just like me in the running analogy, most of us have something else “left in the tank” when we think we don’t. Take this message in the positive way in which it’s intended: To motivate you to push that little bit harder.
You’re not competing against anyone but yourself but your practice’s life depends on it. So, starting right now, push a bit harder, do the things you need to do to help your practice because every drop you put in will come back ten fold later.
All the best,
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