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Do You Recognize the 9 Signs of Practice Stagnation (Part II)?

June 26, 2012

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Philosophy — Tags: , — Barry @ 10:20 PM

In my last post I wrote about why most people are immune to change.  In that post I explained 5 of 9 reasons I have discovered for this hesitation.  This post will describe 4 more.  I am sure there are others and I urge you to chime in.  One thing I know is that if you want to change anything in your personal life or business it will require a lot of thought, courage, hard work to create a better future.

6. We get too comfortable.  Guess what…the Golden Age of Dentistry is over.  It officially ended around March of 2008.  For all of us who were getting too comfortable…it was time to change.  These days, every business is being looked at by insiders and outsiders who want your earnings (insurance companies anyone?).  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from staff members how they want to leave their jobs because the dentist they work for never changes.  Dentistry has changed so much over the years yet so many dentists are comfortable doing these the old way they seem to be practicing another type of dentistry.  In the past few years I have learned more new technologies that in the twenty five years before that from lasers, to implants and new cosmetic procedures…dentists must keep up…and change.  And here’s a secret…you staff wants to grow too!

7. They think It’s Too Late for Them.  Okay, here’s an admission.  I do Bikram Yoga three days per week.  That’s 90 minutes of strenuous bending and flexing in a hot room of 105 degrees.  I am the oldest one in the room.  I do it because I want to lower my blood pressure…and it works for me.  I can tell you that I have heard 40 year olds tell me they are too old for that.  Just like I hear 50 year dentists who think they are too old to place implants or purchase a new technology that will improve their practices.  You are only as old as you think you are.  Using age as an excuse is just another reason not to change.

8. Family pressures to not take a risk.  Okay, I’ll admit it, I am a risk taker.  Sometimes I feel like a strange bird when I am around people who rarely take risks.  When those people are family members even I have to stand back and listen.  Years ago I made a big decision to take a very expensive continuing education management program.  My father-in-law, with the best of intentions, tried to do everything to stop me.  It was a difficult decision and I had to finance the expense.  That course changed my career.  I have made some bad decisions in my career…but they were mine.  Family members can really put on the heat.  If your gut tells you to take the risk, especially when it is about furthering your education…don’t second guess because of a family member who has nothing but bad memories and stories about people they knew who risked and lost.  Change means taking some risk…make those little bets.

9. Think the big deal will fly in the window.  As  I mentioned in Part I of this post, I used to spend a lot of nights at the Meadowlands Racetrack.  I was a gambler who liked to make exotic wagers.  Exactas and trifectas.  When I won, I won big.  But I let a lot of winners get by without having a dime on them.  Many dentists go to work with the same philosophy.  They only look for the “big case.”  Cosmetic dentistry changed the way many practiced.  When I changed, I stopped gambling…I also changed my practice philosophy.  I fell in love with the process (examination, diagnosis and treatment planning everyone), rather than the product (the big score).  I know a lot of dentists who have had a lot of trouble through the years by not adopting a process based philosophy.  You never know when that big case is coming in…so treat everyone like they are the big case.

These 9 reasons for practice stagnation cause more people to hesitate from making any changes.  It takes work and a lot of thought.  Thomas Edison said, “Success is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

I welcome your feedback to help others break this immunity to change…leave your comments below.











  1. I’ve come to the conclusion in my relatively short career that it’s far easier to tell or help others to change than to change ourselves…. but in reality our teams don’t change until we do and you’re right they are waiting for us to change, so they can change too! As to #9 I can relate but the other way almost being too conservative. I’ve noticed that now that I am more focused on a comprehensive exam I present the whole picture of what I see which allows me to discuss what type of care the patient desires… 

    Comment by ddsand — June 26, 2012 @ 10:54 PM

  2. The essence of leadership is exactly that. As Gandhi said: “Become the change you seek in the world.”
    As to #9–yes. committing to the process is what changed my practice. Before that I was looking for the big one. It’s funny how that is still being taught in mainstream CE courses. Thanks for chiming in…your views are on point and appreciated.

    Comment by barrypolansky — June 26, 2012 @ 11:21 PM

  3.  @barrypolansky slow and steady are tough to market. 

    Comment by ddsand — June 26, 2012 @ 11:42 PM

  4. @ddsand Agreed…and that’s the problem.

    Comment by barrypolansky — June 27, 2012 @ 9:51 AM

  5. @ProDentist “Change” is a virus we do not need. See opportunities. 🙂

    Comment by DPSDentalCoach — June 27, 2012 @ 1:25 AM

  6. Nice blog! Very interesting

    Comment by CoryMcmullin — June 27, 2012 @ 7:00 AM

  7. Just a thought about #9.  Babe Ruth and Sammy Sosa were two of baseball’s greatest home run hitters.  During their record setting years they also set strike out records.  My advice to dentists would be to stop swinging for the fences and go for clean singles.

    Comment by barrypolansky — July 1, 2012 @ 10:51 PM

  8.  @barrypolansky Hmm, I might add one change… instead of swinging for singles, how about swinging for solid contact every time, cause once in awhile you’ll hit a home run and enjoy the singles along the way too! 

    Comment by ddsand — July 3, 2012 @ 12:32 PM

  9. @ddsand You are right…just make contact and avoid the strikeouts.

    Comment by barrypolansky — July 3, 2012 @ 12:47 PM

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