Where do you find your value?
As an aside, I just finished the first season of “Breaking Bad.” I have to say that I don’t think it’s as good as everyone says. It’s a bit slow. But it’s in 40-minute segments, so if you have a rainy afternoon, you can watch half a season. Everyone says it’s so awesome, so I am assuming it’s going to get better. If it isn’t, please warn me now.
As you may know, I am a huge Florida Gators basketball fan. Man, we have had some great years. But this year…wow! We are 12-11. We played the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, and it was battle royal. What a game. We were up by 9 and then up by 2 at the half. Then it was us just holding on. Soon, they went up by 5, but we were able to get it to 2 with the ball. We went on to miss four straight free throws, and they didn’t miss anything—we lost by 6. I was proud of our guys, but that is just how the season has gone. But when we have a season like this, I don’t watch ESPN SportsCenter or other games. I go into hiding (and hope Duke loses). So lately, I have been doing a lot of hiding. I hope it gets better.
On to the topic du jour: Where do you get your worth? Where do you find your value? Do you get it from your practice? Do you get your value from your patients? This is a tough one.
I am 45 years old, and I have been practicing for almost 20 years. I love what I do. And over the years, I have learned a lot. I have learned how to do better dentistry. I have learned how to manage people (the people who work for me and the people who I serve). I have learned how to manage my time (this is debatable), and I have learned what a profit/loss statement is.
Being a sole practitioner, you have to be a fast learner, and you have to continue to learn every day. Once you think that you have mastered something, another weakness appears. One thing that I have learned to do is not to be so sensitive. Let me explain.
As dentists, we love to please. We can please 99 percent of people, but that still doesn’t satisfy us. It lets us breathe a bit, but satisfying people like us...that is a tough one. You see, there is just that one person who doesn’t like us. Why, why, why, why? Why don’t they like us? And why does it make us feel so insecure?
Over the past 20 years, I have gotten better at this, mainly because I don’t have the time or the energy to care. I know that sounds bad, but it is true. I have four kids—a 15-year-old boy, a 14-year-old girl, an 11-year-old boy, and a 5-year-old boy. I am busy.
I crank it out all day from when I wake up at 5:50 a.m. (my first patient is at 7 a.m.) to when I finish work at 4 p.m. I get a call from home, like clockwork, at about 4:08 p.m. I am the assistant coach of my 11-year-old’s baseball team and his practice starts at 5 p.m. My daughter is on swim team, and that also starts at 5 p.m. I am going to get home at 4:45 p.m., and both kids are going to come out of the house, all ready for their respective sports.
“Well, why doesn’t your wife do that?” you might ask. Well, she is already on her way to pick up my 15-year-old from track practice, which ends at 5 p.m. on the other end of town. She usually has our 5-year-old in the car with her, and he eventually falls asleep on the ride while saying, “I’m not tired.” And, on the weekends, well, it is a lot of the same. Up at 4:50 a.m. for a run, then baseball practice at 9 a.m., and sometimes swim meets or games. Then church stuff all day Sunday.
Anyway, I also realize that people bring their baggage to our collective works. Some people are making a ton of money, and they live week to week. Then they break a tooth. Who is going to get the brunt of their frustration? Some people are having trouble with their marriages or their kids, or maybe they’re having house repair issues. And some are just unhappy people. So back to my original questions: Where do you get your worth? Where do you find value?
Do you find value in your practice? How about your staff? I love, love, love my staff. I try to build an environment that is fun, mutually trusting, and beneficial. And, like my patients, I want my staff to like me all of the time. But guess what? I have a photo from a staff trip we went on about five years ago, and half of the staff members in that photo are not even at my office anymore.
Do you find value in your salary or what is in your bank accounts? I want to say that I fall into this trap. I find value in my bottom line. But let me tell you this, my friends, doing so puts you on a slippery slope. We all know your financial status could change in just a matter of weeks. You get hurt. The compressor goes down. Next thing you know, that $50,000 saving account is down to $10,000—and then you are depressed for a couple months.
How about your stuff? Don’t even try it. The Bible talks about not putting your faith in things that could be moth eaten or rust. Things we buy get old, and they lose that “new” feeling really fast. That feeling is so fleeting. You know you can buy a sweet new BMW and think you are too cool. But how long will that last? You just hope they don’t change the body style in the next few years so your car still looks brand new. (This is why I drive a 14-year-old car; it always feels old.)
Thankfully, we can find value in the dentistry we are striving to do. And, we can find value in…our values. We can find value in our family, and in what you are trying to do with your kids. You can find value in your relationships. You can find value in your religion. This is the value I am talking about—the kind that will not rust or be moth eaten.
Have a great day!
Have a great day!
John Gammichia, DMD, FAGD