Working in Isolation vs. The Power of Shared Experiences

September 17, 2021 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Ancient wisdom has taught us that as “Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

I love education and learning. As a long-time student and faculty member at The Pankey Institute, I am challenged by and learn from all of my colleagues every time that we gather for an educational event, whether in person or online.

Some of that learning is from the program. Much of it is from one another as we discuss and share what is pertinent in our practices and careers and how we apply what we are learning. In short, these experiences improve my performance as a dentist, leader, and practice owner.

The grid of improving performance according to Todd Herman, performance coach, looks like this:

  1. Observe & measure past action (Data from yourself & others)
  2. Reflect on that data and the feedback from other key trusted people
  3. Reflect / Visualize on the future, especially with key trusted people
  4. Design Future Action (Experiments) & Acclimate to this new behavior
  5. Repeat

This formula for change is almost always best done with other likeminded people who are on similar journeys. They can give you encouragement, feedback, perspective, resources, & connections.

Even more importantly, it can be very therapeutic to hear the stories and experiences of others to realize that you are not alone in your challenges and the ups and downs of attempting to do something difficult. It is simply reassuring to come face to face with the humanness of friends and colleagues that you respect. It makes our own human frailty much easier to accept and can give us the courage to try again and again.

Keep in mind that every thriving and durable organization has gone through countless failures in route to accomplishing their vision.

The highest performing individuals in any endeavor are working in a team of likeminded individuals who are seeking to accomplish similar things. Those individuals have a much-expanded capacity to understand one another’s challenges and needs. This expanded capacity is often the difference between success and failure.

Isolation is the enemy of progress. Don’t let it determine your possibilities.

Seek out ways to include shared experiences in your personal and professional development by joining like-minded groups like Pankey study groups, group masterminds, and group coaching programs. You even can create groups of your own to surround yourself with positive energy.

Once you have experienced the power of shared experiences like these, you will see the difference from working in isolation.

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About Author

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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What? Systems Can Be Fun?

September 15, 2021 Sheri Kay RDH

How about a fun pre-pandemic memory? I was on a vacation cruise and had sought out a lounge to do my yoga privately early in the mornings. One morning, I arrived to find easels displaying paintings along the walls of the lounge and a team of people from the Art Gallery. One woman held up a camera and said, “Okay, go!” Then, four others ran along the sides of the room, picking up the paintings and rushing them up to the front of the room. Then they ran back, folded the easels, and moved them as well. The woman with the camera said, “You did it,” and everyone cheered and clapped.

Later that day, I ran into the woman who had held the camera. I had to ask… you know I did, “What were you doing in the lounge this morning?” She told me that every few months they do a quality control exercise to demonstrate they can breakdown the gallery in less than five minutes, because sometimes they only have five minutes to clear the lounge between events.

I had to ask… You know I did. “So, how well did you do?” She told me they were excited to do it this time in just over a minute. She was beaming from ear to ear.

So, that got me thinking…. You know it did. Turning a task into something fun can be energizing. In dentistry, we have to breakdown operatories and setup operatories all the time. What if, while following infection control guidelines and all things OSHA, there was still an element of fun in periodically demonstrating we can do this task at high speed? What record can we beat?

While I was on this same cruise in the Caribbean, it was flu season. There were bottles of hand sanitizer everywhere, and going into the dining room, there were four stations where you could stick your hand under an automatic dispenser. The cruise line did not want to leave it up to the honor system for passengers to clean their hands, so they had come up with a fun way to make us do it. Two men with Caribbean accents and funny attire greeted everyone coming into the room. They had Bluetooth speakers and danced as they said to everyone, “Washy, washy, yay, thank you.” So, every time I went into the dining room, I had a little dance with these gentlemen and sanitized my hands. For the entire cruise, everyone sanitized their hands upon entering the dining room!

During the final night’s dinner celebration… you know the one, where they bring in the blazing dessert and dance in a Conga line to “Hot, Hot, Hot,” the “Washy, washy” guys got on the microphone and thanked us for sanitizing our hands–and allowing them to help keep us healthy. Of course, we all cheered. We loved these guys!

So, that got me thinking… you know it did! They had found a fun and engaging way to improve our health and make us feel good about following the rules. I hope you noted that in my two cruise ship stories, having fun with systems increased the group’s performance. Research consistently demonstrates that when team members are enjoying themselves, work is performed at a higher caliber and with less stress. When patients are enjoying themselves, their participation in their own health is greatly improved.

I know dental care teams well, and they love a creative challenge. Where do you have systems that are trending boring that your care team might add a little fun and spice to? Have some great examples to share? Add them in the blog comments.

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About Author

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Sheri Kay RDH

Sheri Kay started her career in dentistry as a dental assistant for an “under one roof” practice in 1980. The years quickly flew by as Sheri worked her way from one position to the next learning everything possible about the different opportunities and roles available in an office. As much as she loved dentistry … something was always missing. In 1994, after Sheri graduated from hygiene school, her entire world changed when she was introduced to the Pankey Philosophy of Care. What came next for Sheri was an intense desire to help other dental professionals learn how they could positively influence the health and profitability of their own practices. By 2012, Sheri was working full time as a Dental Practice Coach and has since worked with over 300 practices across the country. Owning SKY Dental Practice Dental Coaching is more of a lifestyle than a job, as Sheri thrives on the strong relationships that she develops with her clients. She enjoys speaking at state meetings, facilitating with Study Clubs and of course, coaching with her practices.

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