Lesson #4: Listen to those around you, including your patients.
When asked what influenced my career the most, I don’t hesitate in saying it was the importance of the human in the chair. Even in a figurative sense, referring to humans in parts of the world where dentistry isn’t even available, it’s still all about the human. And certainly for the clinician, the ability to change someone’s life for the better is the greatest gift one can receive.
As a dentist with a staff or as a CEO of a large “small business”, I’ve come to learn that it is critical to listen to the inputs of caring colleagues. It is important to listen to managers, especially those who have grown to levels of high competence and experience. It is impossible for one person to know all that is required to run a dental practice or business at peak performance day in and day out.
Additionally, I’ve come to learn that I should pay attention, listen and respect the valued aspects of patients or colleagues lives. What is very important to one person may be of little consequence to another. The more we learn to realize and respect this truth, the more open our minds become and the more people will want to be around us. I’ve also come to learn that it is wrong to jump in with answers prematurely. As I get older, it becomes more satisfiying to hear solutions come from those around me.
Regardless of whether the idea was the same as mine or better than what I would have offered, there is a sense of pride in allowing them to provide the solution. I will confess that I slip from time to time on this very important subject (and others) but I hope I work towards perfecting them before I turn the finale marker of my 60s.