Sometimes it seems we’re wired to correct the negative. So when it comes to making a change, we’ll wonder, “What is the problem and how shall I fix it?”
Author Dan Heath suggests that this approach probably works fine most of the time — if your kid has a single F on his report card, by all means focus on that problem. However in a post on the Fast Company blog, Heath suggests it isn’t always wise to focus on problems:
There’s one time in life when this problem-focus backfires on us, and that’s when we’re trying to change things. In times of change, our report card doesn’t look almost-perfect. It looks mixed. Parts of it look like a failure. And if, in those times, we slip into problem-solving mode, we’ll spin our wheels, because there are problems everywhere. That’s a recipe for inaction, for paralysis.
What’s the answer? Instead of focusing on the problems, identify the parts that are going right and try to reproduce those results. Heath calls this a bright spots focus.
Here’s an example — let’s say you set a New Year’s resolution to get more exercise, and that looking back you haven’t been as consistent as you hoped. You probably exercised on some days – what made those days different? If you do some detective work to identify those bright spots (“I woke up earlier on those days,” or “I had my gym bag ready-to-go by the front door,”) you can focus on increasing the number of good days, rather than scolding yourself for having bad days.
Have you found any bright spots? Leave your answers in the comments.
Let them know why you’re calling
Over at his blog Both Sides of the Table Mark Suster writes about effective phone calls. As a venture capitalist, Suster gets a lot of phone calls asking for favors, advice, or recommendations. Suster doesn’t mind this, it goes along with his line of work, but he does have some recommendations for those who are calling him:
Let them know why you’re calling – When you’re ready to pivot the conversation your next line should be some derivative of, “listen, the reason I’m calling is … blah, blah, blah.” 25% of people or less actually do this. They just talk and I’m not really sure why they called.
If you’re calling for a reason, the sooner the recipient knows the sooner they can help. If the clock runs out they’re not going to be able to help.
In your life as a new dentist there are bound to be some high-stakes phone calls, whether you are calling a dentist who might hire an associate, a lender who might fund a practice purchase, or a mentor who might help you get to the next level in organized dentistry, there’s no avoiding making these calls.
What steps do you take to ensure success when you have to ask someone for a favor over the phone? Anything you’ve tried (or that someone has tried on you) that doesn’t work in a phone call? Leave your answer in the comments.
Get the most out of mentoring
Yesterday we congratulated winners of the 11th Annual New Dentist Committee Awards Luncheon taking place at the 27th New Dentist Conference. The subject of mentors and mentoring came up a lot.
A few days ago we posted about how to find a mentor. If you have found a new mentor and are ready to start that conversation, here are some suggestions, originally published in ADA New Dentist News:
Start Small Just as you would be wary of someone who proposed marriage on the first date, a potential mentor may shy away from a formal request for mentorship. Instead, start out by asking for advice on a single, well-defined challenge. For instance, “How do you approach case acceptance when the patient’s objection is that it will take too much time?”
Show that you are Serious If you received good advice, implement it and report back to your potential mentor. You’ll demonstrate that you are a good investment for the mentor’s time and effort. This might be a time to suggest a casual meeting over coffee.
Be Quick to Listen, Slow to Defend A key component of your mentor’s value is a willingness to share frank observations with you. While there is no expectation that you agree with all the feedback you receive, resist the urge to contradict your mentor. A useful phrase for you is, “Wow, you and I are looking at the same information and coming to two different conclusions. Will you share more of your thinking so I can see this from your point of view?”
Remember to Have Fun A mentorship should be an energy boost for both of you, not another in a list of “ought to do” obligations. Remember to reach out to your mentor to share good news, to make purely social invitations, and connect in other ways that aren’t primarily about you asking for guidance.
Kevin Goles is attending the 27th New Dentist Conference — he’s a member of the Class of 2015 at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.
Kevin accepted the New Dentist Leadership award on behalf of Dr. David White who wasn’t able to attend the awards luncheon. Dr. White mentored Kevin back when Kevin was a pre-dental student in Nevada.
And Kevin stuck around to help present the award for Outstanding Leadership in Mentoring to Dr. Dan Edwards, who is a current mentor to Kevin in Michigan, and a former mentor of Dr. Dan White!
“Dr. White really expanded my knowledge and grew my interest in dentistry and my passion for helping people. He helped me make decisions about my dental education and prepare me for taking on leadership roles. And now that I have these student leadership positions, Dr. Edwards is helping me make sure that I can manage all these priorities and stay effective.”
Of course mentoring is not just for dental students. Both ADA President Dr. Robert Faiella and Immediate Past President Dr. William Calnon gave interviews to ADA News citing the value of mentoring they received after school.
If you already have a mentor, congratulations! And if you’d like to get started with a mentoring relationship we have ideas.
Attending state or local dental meetings is an ideal way to meet successful dentists in a low-stress environment. Find a directory of state and local dental societies at ADA.org/societydirectories.
Dr. Dan Edwards
Here at the New Dentist Conference, we’re proud to honor the ADA Golden Apple Award Winners. Dr. Dan Edwards won the award for Outstanding Leadership in Mentoring.
In 2012 ADA New Dentist News spoke with Dr. Dan Edwards about his approach to mentoring dental students:
“I want to give a mentee enough information to make an informed decision, which isn’t the same as getting someone to copy my decisions,” explains Dr. Edwards. “It’s similar to the way I present a treatment plan to a patient. I lay out all the options, and I share my opinion about what I recommend as the best course of action. When it comes to mentoring, my passion is right there on the surface, because these have been good choices for me. But each individual has to make his or her own decision.”
Congratulations to Dr. Dan Edwards and all the other 2013 winners!
What about you? Who is a mentor who has made (or is still making) a difference in your life? Leave your answer in the comments.
Dr. David White
Here at the New Dentist Conference, we’re proud to honor the ADA Golden Apple Award Winners. Dr. David White received the award for New Dentist Leadership.
In 2012, ADA New Dentist News spoke with Dr. David White about how mentoring the next generation of dentists helps to protect the future of the profession:
(Dr. White coordinates) a range of programs that connect pre-dental students to elementary school enrichment programs. For Dr. White, these activities represent an investment. “There are problems in any community that can’t be solved with money — they take time.”
One way that investment of time pays off for Dr. White is with his work as chair of the Nevada Dental Association’s Political Action Committee. “One reason I feel so comfortable doing advocacy work, is that lawmakers see these young leaders who are dentists or are on the track to becoming dentists, making a quantifiable difference in the community. It means we are able to approach those legislators and say, ‘This is what we, as a profession, think is in the best interest of our citizens,’ and we have credibility.”
Congratulations to Dr. David White and to all the other 2013 winners!
Don’t forget to follow the conference at #NDC2013.
Interested in finding a mentor?
We’re getting ready for this Saturday’s 11th Annual New Dentist Committee Awards Luncheon taking place at the 27th New Dentist Conference. Several of the awards honor accomplishments in mentoring.
No matter where you are in the arc of your career, there is no substitute for a one-on-one mentoring relationship. If you are ready to find a mentor, here are some suggestions, originally published in ADA New Dentist News:
Get Clear on What you Want to Learn Saying, “I don’t know what to do with my career,” is a broad question, difficult for a mentor to help you solve. More helpful are the concrete, practical questions you may face. Are you looking for someone who can help you navigate the options for practicing in an FQHC? Hoping for help in charting a path to leadership in organized dentistry? Seeking a dentist with a knack for developing a practice from scratch? Defining the kind of information you’d like to receive will make it easier to begin your search.
Get Clear on What you Have to Offer A good mentor can help you grow past limitations and reach your full potential. Mentors want to feel needed, but that doesn’t mean you will need advice on everything! Do a self-inventory, and prepare a mental list that identifies your strengths as well as the areas in which you’d like to grow.
Meet In-Person, Maintain Online Email and social media are great ways to keep a relationship going, but to get one started, you’ll need face-to-face encounters. Attending state or local dental meetings is an ideal way to meet successful dentists in a low-stress environment. Some dental societies offer formal mentoring programs as well. Give your state or local dental society a call to see what’s available in your area. Find a directory of state and local dental societies at ADA.org/societydirectories.
If you are currently being mentored, and it’s going well, congratulations! Where did you and your mentor meet? Let us know in the comments.