In December 2016, I completed a course with Dr. Paul Homoly about the craft of being a speaker. I have had a dream of being a keynote speaker for more than 20 years, and now, I am finally ready.
I already have three speaking engagements booked, and two of the organizations are outside of dentistry. My first keynote speech is titled “Success Is All about Relationships,” with a secondary story about the people in our lives being a gift. With this topic in hand, and the holiday season having recently been upon us — which emphasizes positive family relationships and goodwill toward humankind — I started thinking about my relationships and how they have affected my families, both my biological family and my work family (team), as well as some problems that have occurred that are difficult to resolve. Allow me to tell you about some of the people in my life, the interactions with whom have taught me lessons over the past years.
My wife and I are both members of large families. My brother-in-law’s wife is not from a large family, and in her small family, she has managed to avoid certain relatives, including her mother and sister. After being involved in a small dispute with her, my family was not invited to their holiday celebration. My children were particularly hurt seeing their cousins posting pictures online; they did not understand why they were not invited. I don’t know how this will get resolved or even if it will get resolved. My wife’s close-knit family is slowly being divided by this one person.
I also have encountered problematic interactions with one of my employees in particular. I hired Freda* many years ago. She is a hard worker, a fast learner and had a successful career as a server in a busy restaurant chain in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She understood teamwork, high levels of customer service and more. She was a great hire, but as time went on, she brought her personal issues to the office. She withdrew and stopped talking to people at lunchtime. She was banging drawers, rushing around and putting things away in haste, leaving the rest of the team scrambling to find things they needed — and not in a timely manner, which affected its ability to provide high levels of customer service to our patients.
Although Freda’s words stated she wanted to be a part of our team, her actions showed otherwise. To remedy this, we worked with Freda, providing her with coaching. We also provided team-based communications training for the whole office. Despite our best efforts, we ultimately found a way to help her find a different place to work. Over the course of the following six months, our productivity, production, collections and general happiness at work measurably improved.
These are just two examples I can share about dealing with challenging relationships — sometimes you can change them and sometimes you can’t. I have two families: my biological family and my work family (my team). We cannot change our biological family. We do not choose to whom we are related, nor who our family members marry. We can choose who the members of our work family will be. Success is dependent upon how we chose to navigate our relationships. The challenge is to overcome the difficult ones — or, if that is not possible, to focus instead on those relationships in your life that are positive and choose to build new ones.
May 2017 be a year of positive and fulfilling relationships for you all, in all of your families as we strive for success.
Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA
*Name has been changed.