In these unprecedented times, dentists are faced with confusing and overwhelming change in the way they practice, and it’s clear that things will not go back to the way they were before COVID-19. As you face this new normal, in which the foundations of your practice are shaken, you can either be swept away by the fear of change, or you can press ahead and use this shaking as an opportunity to better your practice. In this episode, Allison and Shawn encourage listeners to resist clinging to what dentistry was, and to reimagine a new era of dentistry that can be more fulfilling than ever.

With the old ways gone, you have an opportunity to rebuild your practice to serve you better than before. What better time to change broken systems than now in the midst of this pandemic, when people are less likely to resist change, since almost every other sector of life has changed. This is a time when the world is open to innovative solutions. Your routines and modus operandi are now broken down, which feels scary, but if you have eyes to see it, you can see that this provides a new and total freedom to reimagine your business. When you go back to work, don’t get stuck in frustration that you can’t go back to what you did before. Allison and Shawn’s motivating message will empower you to look ahead with a pioneering spirit, to change the things that you didn’t like, and to use this new freedom to find opportunities.

Though it may feel like COVID-19 threw a bomb into your dental practice, not all the change has to be bad. Sometimes it takes an explosion to propel you forward.

Full Transcript Below

Shawn: (01:01)
Hey guys, this is Shawn and Allison here with the authentic dentist podcast and we’re just excited again to just be able to have some time with you guys and talk about what is going on in dentistry right now because again, this is just an unprecedented time. It has been so confusing. We’re open. We’re not open shelter in place. You can see emergencies. No, nevermind stay home. And the information has been confusing and this is what you need if you’re going to reopen. And every site that we normally would go to says something different. It is frustrating. And I’m guessing nationwide, every state has a different timetable. Oh yeah, absolutely. Every state has a different time table because remember how much, how many people are infected, what your temperature is, what your practice looks like. All of that makes a difference. So here in Arizona, you know this is the beginning.

Shawn: (02:07)
Today actually May 1st is the beginning of elective services being what the ban has been lifted from our governor. What about places like New York? They may not see something like this for, right? Like there’s no end in sight for them. Yeah. Yeah. There’s no end in sight. Now I’m guessing there’s also States where there wasn’t even a shelter in place. Issue ordered, like some of the smaller States? No, I think every state had some kind of shelter in place. Okay. Possibly for shorter periods of time with different restrictions. And I’m not sure what our executive order says right now about elective surgeries because it changed again yesterday. So it’s confusing. I do know that we’re, we’re supposed to be able to see emergency patients right now. So being connected to things that with the ADA, are there any States right now that are like leading this that maybe you know, have already, you know, open to the new normal for a few weeks now?

Allison: (03:12)
I don’t think there’s any place I’ve been open for a few weeks in a, in a normal way. So we’re right on the cusp. We’re right on the cusp in Arizona and don’t quote me cause I’m not positive, but I, I do think if any States have been open and they’ve only been open for about a week. Okay. So

Shawn: (03:32)
Practices are going to reopen and there’s going to be what key people keep referring to as the new normal.

Allison: (03:40)
And at first that was so scary for me. Oh my God, what is the new normal ordering all this PPE, trying to figure out how to schedule patients so they’re socially distant. There was a toolkit that came out from ADA that was really well done and I really thought about how to enter all those protocols. And then I just had a moment of epiphany today when we were talking. I kind of feel like somebody took a bomb and threw it in my practice and close the door and now it’s totally different. Totally different. And maybe that’s not bad.

Shawn: (04:15)
Okay, so maybe this blow up is liberating. So instead of feeling this stress of how do I repeat back together to the way things were and like trying to get back to the way normal was three months ago almost, I would feel really stressed trying to figure that out because you’re trying to make current day reality and almost like act like there’s not always new conditions, but they’re here

Allison: (04:40)
And we talked about this six weeks ago in one of our podcasts, but then you know, it was gone and I was trying to fit, what is it? The square peg in the round hole. It didn’t fit. Tried and tried because the new normal doesn’t fit in what I used to do. It just, it doesn’t fit. And if I just decide it doesn’t fit and my practice is totally different than it will ever be before, then there’s some freedom. There’s some total freedom to reimagine. We know there’s a lot of things I didn’t like about my practice and I could fix that and look at different models. I mean, cause, excuse me, usually I’m booked for six months out and now I’m not booked. So it doesn’t, it isn’t like I’m rescheduling six months worth of patients.

Shawn: (05:33)
So it’s like there’s uncertainty, which means there’s not a clear path. Now the negative side of that is like, okay, I don’t know what to do. The positive side of that is I have freedom to do new things. And with that freedom,

Allison: (05:50)
I mean partly that can be kind of scary though too. It’s terrifying until you just embrace it and you just start looking at every piece of our practice. What did we not like? Well, so there’s been some discussion that our hygienists don’t want to come back because they’re afraid and, and I’m not going to get to the merits of that cause I don’t know. But I do know that I lost money on my hygienist before this. And now when you’re talking about the amount of PPE that I need for her to be safe, well, can I do something different? You know, I pay my hairdresser more than people pay my hygienist. It’s maybe it needs to be reimagined.

Shawn: (06:35)
Sorry, I just connected that you pay your hairdresser more than you’re getting reimbursed for what your hygienists does.

Allison: (06:42)
Yeah. By like I pay my hairdresser three times as much as my hygienist bills per hour, three times. Now that probably says something about my hair. It’s expensive. But

Shawn: (06:57)
The guys out there like, well, the married men understand.

Allison: (07:02)
But I mean you can see that though. Can you see that? Some insurance companies pay $56 for a cleaning. Well, we’ve been losing money for a long time. How can we reimagine that? What, what could look totally different? Cause we don’t have to do the model we used to do. In fact, I would say that’s gone. I don’t know.

Shawn: (07:24)
So that’s, I guess what we’re inviting people into is like together as an industry. You know, whatever groups here in on your peers, like together having that chance to recreate, to reimagine and to make dentistry better.

Allison: (07:44)
So there’s, there’s a whole lot of metaphors out there. But the one I really like is, and I’m not going to say her name right, Diana NIAD. And so when she was 64 years old, she swam from Cuba to Florida, 64 years old and she’d tried it three times before in her early twenties, in her thirties, and she’d failed. And then at 64, she was able to do it. And I think about that. Oh my gosh. Well, I mean certainly she’s not as fit. Surely she’s not as healthy. She’s not. But she did it and she did it because of her mindset. She made the decision and every time there was an obstacle, she decided to find a way. And, and that’s where we are right now. We have tons of obstacles and there will be more and we’re just going to find a way.

Shawn: (08:31)
I mean, but that’s just crazy because that story is like, that’s against biology. Like all the scientific understanding, everybody understands, whether it’s your muscle fibers or your cardiovascular capacity. Everything’s diminished

Allison: (08:47)
Past like 40. And she couldn’t do it at 40, but at 64, she did it.

Shawn: (08:52)
But she also couldn’t do it at her prime. 20 to 30. Yeah. So it just shows like how powerful the potential is in not just the human spirit but the human mind and how powerful a mindset can be. So we’re asking and challenging you not to take this time and look at it from a fearful lens. A lens that could cause anxiety, a lens that could cause. I mean when, when I get scared, a lot of times I do nothing. You know, it’s like paralyzing, right? I think that’s how fear sometimes has that effect on people.

Allison: (09:29)
And I think we’ve been that way for six weeks. Just terrified what’s going to happen next? What are the rules? We don’t know what to do. And I still don’t know the roles, but if I looked at it as freedom, the old way is gone. It’s gone. Wow. I get to totally revamp and do what I want to do. In the future. Now that doesn’t mean I can’t, I don’t have to follow whatever OSHA says, but my practice doesn’t have to look like it did before. I don’t have to have the same team. One of the things I keep thinking about is everybody knows how to use zoom. Everybody knows how to use this virtual platform that I’m going to say I didn’t know much about two months ago. I could probably use that in my practice some way. There’s probably opportunities for virtual assistants. There’s probably opportunities for virtual filing insurance, I don’t know.

Shawn: (10:21)
Well, and that’s one of the things we all learned through this Corona virus is that people still crave connection, still crave that ability to just connect to people they care about and they can do it virtually now. A whole generation out there that’s really young, it’s like laughing like that’s all they’ve known, but a large part of people might have just discovered how capable of them can be and how that can now influence dentistry moving forward has yet to be explored in its entirety. I mean that’s the thing. Freedom is a tremendous gift. And it’s like, well, what do you, what do you do with this? What do you do when you have permission to innovate? What do you do when you have permission to challenge something? Reimagine, reinvent. And that leads us to that Henry Ford quote of failures. Just that opportunity to begin again more intelligently. So your practice,

Allison: (11:20)
I love that it exploded, you know, far to my own. So I think sometimes it feels like, Oh, there was a failure on my part. Nope, there was no failure on my part. The bomb was thrown by somebody else. So I can sit here and feel sorry for myself, but I didn’t do this and now I have the opportunity to change.

Shawn: (11:41)
And what your practice had become. I mean, let’s just be honest. In some ways you might have felt trapped by certain parts you didn’t like because they’re like, well, I don’t really like this, but I don’t know what to do about it. And now it’s like, well, I think a slave to this practice for a long time, and that doesn’t mean I don’t love it because I do. I love my patients. I love my dentistry, but the actual business, yeah. Sometimes I felt like I was a slave to the business. I couldn’t take you. Remember I said I’ve never taken a two week vacation. That is not going to be my new norm. I am going to have a room to breathe again. That’s an empowering message to dentists out there is like you’re reconstructing this, you’re re-imagining, you’re rebuilding, you know what? Like put some margin in for you for life. Like the areas that you didn’t have hope that you could create something that could serve you. Yeah. Throw it in there. You know you’re worth it.

Shawn: (12:37)
Yeah. There was always these limiting factors. You know, I can’t bring in another dentist. My, my patients won’t tolerate that. They won’t like that. My team won’t like that. Well, I mean, all of that’s gone. So yeah, the world is open. So tell me about that little clip that you just played for me. Podcast going, coming in on your way and what did you listen to? So I love things. Ziglar, old SIG Sigler, he’s passed a long time ago. He has this Louisiana accent. I love it. And he talks about there’s all this room at the front. So his story, he loves to tell stories. He’s just a legend. It’s magic. So he tells this story that he’s at this big lecture hall and the place is totally packed and there’s people standing around the aisles and the back on the sides not sitting down and there’s eight seats in the front and they’re not together, but there are eight seats in the front.

Shawn: (13:39)
And so he says, come on, come sit in the front and only one person will walk up and sit in the front. And he says it again. Come on, come sit down. Nope, nobody will come. And he says, I would pick these chairs up and bring them to you, but I can’t because of lots of things. You did a good job. I can’t. That was good. That’s in me. Yeah, I can’t. So you’re going to have to climb over. Some people go over some obstacles in order to get to the front, but there’s a room at the front. And his metaphor was, there’s always a lot of room in the front or at the top, at the top, but people are afraid to go over the obstacles and the obstacles are are large, but they’re not insurmountable. But for whatever reason, people get very content in the back.

Shawn: (14:31)
But yet that’s the funny thing. It’s like no one dreams about thing. They’re the dreams and the ambitions and the desires are for what is symbolic of being at the top. It’s like the contribution that you crave, that that sense of fulfillment and success, but yet it’s uncertain how to get there. There’s no guarantee you’re going to get there. And as we talked about, people are looking for this secret. So the secret is there is no secret. Wait, I don’t know if we can tell people this. We should, we should charge them something for that. I quoted master at Oakway here. You did. So remembering Kung Fu Panda, he had to get the dragon scrolls. Maybe you don’t. It’s a child’s movie. He went through all these obstacles, the Panda in order to get the Dragon’s girls. And when he got them, he opened them up and there was nothing on them.

Shawn: (15:27)
There was nothing written on them. It was only a mirror that reflected him. And it was fascinating because the children of course didn’t get it because they were children. But the reality is there is no secret. It was the hard work in all the journey. It took him to get to that point for him to be the dragon King. It was on the quest. It was the searching, it was a not giving up. It was a developing resiliency. It was everything. You get qualified in the process. And I think a lot of people are scared to be in motion on something that they don’t have a defined target or defined way of getting something like, so you want a dental degree, there’s a pretty defined route. You want to learn even something clinically that’s been done before and get better at it. There’s a defined route, people that are exploring even clinically, again, no one’s showing them how to do those fascinating procedures.

Shawn: (16:22)
These that is like pioneering. But that’s the nature of pioneering is that there’s not definition, there’s not this map. And as you step out in motion, that’s when doors open up some doors close to you, then that’s okay. And there will be obstacles just like this 64 year old woman that swam. There were lots of obstacles for her to overcome. And there were challenges that set her back where she didn’t get as fast as she wanted or, but she did it because you can overcome all the obstacles. We will make this happen and maybe it’s only gonna be a few of us that can create it. But we were going to do this. I love that message. Dentists are resilient, dentists are strong, they’re creative, they’re problem solvers. And I think one of the cautions that I would make is don’t go in this alone.

Shawn: (17:19)
Like, yeah, pull on your, your friends, your peers, those, you know, in some of the Facebook groups you’re in. And yeah, like step out and try to collaboratively make a solution that’s gonna work for dentistry. Make dentistry better right now. And that was your inspiring you or you close it off, I think it was an innovator stagnate podcast that you ended. What could dentistry look like? What could it look like? We are, we are so innovative. If you look at our practices today versus when I started practicing 20 years ago, they’re so different. The innovation is amazing. We have to talk to each other, overcome obstacles together and we still look at each other as competition. And I think the competition is hurting us. We really don’t have to look at things that way. It doesn’t have to be, well what is she doing?

Shawn: (18:07)
Cause I have to be better than her. No, we’re staying on this path. We’re going to make dentistry great and we’re all going to succeed because of it. But the reality is 99% of dentists are not your competition because they’re not in your area code. And even those in your area code probably have different offerings. Like, like think of how naive that is. Like nationwide, there are brilliant dentists that could be learning from each other, but they’re scared that maybe the dentist in a different state might take something that they’re doing and then have success and it takes away from your success. It doesn’t, it makes dentistry better. Never takes away. And in fact, it hurts you when you’re always looking at the competition. What does that iconic picture, do you remember it in swimming? I mean, what is it? Chad lacrosse and Michael Phelps when I’m there, they’re swimming in that it’s a big swim meet and Chad, the class looks back at Phelps and because he looked back at his competition, helps beat him and it’s, the iconic picture is just so close, but you can see him looking back.

Shawn: (19:18)
That’s what killed him is looking at his competition. He would have won, who knows what would happen to Phelps stay in your lane. That’s the quote. Stay in your lane. Create your own art. You know, you have to, it takes a lot of trust to have even the confidence to know that you can embark on something and just take a risk. But if you’re going to bet on anybody, bet on yourself, we’ve bet on herself already. I mean, how much did we pay for dental school? How much time and money and investment have we made? And making ourselves great dentists. It’s just another step. We can do it. We’ve been doing it all along, but something, so something about that concept of emotion. It does fascinate me because I think sometimes it’s hard for people to get started. It’s hard for people. Like, I know momentum means a lot to me. I sense when I have it during a week, during a day when I don’t have it, sometimes it’s hard to get it and sometimes it’s hard to begin something. And again, just motion on an area. And I have all sorts of excuses as to why I don’t, well, I don’t know. I haven’t done my research. I haven’t done my due diligence. I don’t, you know, like all these reasons why we kind of look at something and we go I’m just, I’m not ready yet.

Allison: (20:47)
But it’s like, but are you ever ready to do something?

Shawn: (20:51)
I wasn’t ready to have kids. I wasn’t ready to get married and I would never have changed anything about that. Five kids later, best wife, like I am blessed. But I knew I wasn’t, I wasn’t ready. I just trusted it totally enough

Allison: (21:06)
That life gonna look like, I don’t know.

Shawn: (21:09)
What does sleepless nights look like? You don’t sleep.

Allison: (21:13)
I mean, not every moment has been joyful. It’s true. But overall, yeah, there’s a lot of joy. Starting my own practice was extremely painful and difficult, but it was also a great accomplishment. And I’ve, I’m happy. I’m happy because I did it and now I have the opportunity to totally reimagine it and make it what I wanted it to be. Way back in the day, I wrote a letter to the council on dental practice maybe four weeks ago, and I just said, I’m sitting on the floor of one of my operatories just looking at the shambles. That was my practice. And it was a very feeling sorry for myself kind of moment, but it also was this moment of reflection that this has been my cage for way too long. I don’t want it to look like this anymore. That’s powerful

Shawn: (22:04)
Just to be able to acknowledge that. So yeah, this I think could be a defining time in dentistry and it doesn’t mean it’s this week. It doesn’t mean it’s next month. It’s just after Corona virus. In the midst of this challenge, what is going to come forth and how are our listeners going to be part of it? It’s like you can stay on the sidelines and be an observer, but I don’t think that’s going to lead to fulfillment.

Allison: (22:33)
I just, I think the momentum you’re talking about needs to be a mindset. There’s opportunities here to do what I wanted to do. And that’s the thing that my practice may look totally different than the guy down the street because his re-imagined practice may be, I really want to do these procedures in this way and I hate those procedures. I’m not doing that. So this is the way I’m going to do it. It doesn’t have to be a cookie cutter, but it, it, the looking at it as an opportunity. That’s how you get some momentum. What are the opportunities here?

Shawn: (23:09)
You know, so normally I wouldn’t bring this up, but I was just reading a proverb the other day and it said it’s the glory of God to conceal a matter but the glory of Kings to search it out. So basically it’s saying God, the universe, whatever. It’s like the treasures that like Kings, those in leadership, those that actually want to do something to make humanity better. It’s like there’s, there’s treasures that are hidden, but they’re hidden for a reason because if they weren’t hidden, there’s nothing special about just if it took any, then anyone could find it. Like the secret of fulfillment comes in the fact you actually know you had to spend yourself on it. You did encounter obstacles, you overcame challenges. And that’s where the fulfillment comes. That’s, that’s where that self-respect comes. When you look in the mirror and you’re like, wow, like when you look at your team and you’re like, we did it.

Shawn: (24:02)
If it wasn’t noble and it wasn’t a challenge to begin with, you feel like a fake cause you’re like, okay, we arrived at this, like I inherited. You know, somehow I won the lottery and I don’t know what to do with this money because it wasn’t earned. My husband is a trust and estates lawyer, you know that, right? And he says that all the time, that people who are given money from a trust or from they inherited from their parents, they lose it quickly because the journey of earning the money is what makes it valuable to you. If you’re just giving it, you just don’t honor it. You don’t appreciate it. And a lot of times you just fritter it away. But people have earned the money, have respect for it, and they keep it man. So, Oh, and that’s where it’s like, so get out there on that journey of discovering what type of dentistry, I don’t know.

Shawn: (24:54)
Like what, what, what do you dream about in dentistry? What do you think would make dentistry better? What secretly is a thing that you’ve kind of hoped for and maybe it, maybe it is virtual or tele dentistry or something that hasn’t happened yet and you kind of have been a little timid to step in that direction. Don’t be timid now. It’s like now is the time to just explore and yeah. Venture. So if you’ve started practicing again because your state is allowing you to, I’m sure you’re seeing very few patients, you probably haven’t gone full force again, even if you have, you probably don’t have that booked out for very long. So create some time for yourself to look at it, to reevaluate after you’ve spent a couple of days with patients, what does that feel like? What does it look like and what would you have preferred?

Shawn: (25:46)
Because it’s an opportunity to reevaluate and keep changing the system. And nobody’s going to complain because we’re in the middle of the pandemic and you’re totally allowed to change your systems. Now. Freedom mindset, like growth, opportunity, risk. This is what we talk about. Yeah, it’s inspiring. It’s scary. It’s all of it. It’s, it’s messy and that’s life, right? It’s good. It’s good. It is good. It is good. So yeah. Do exactly what Alison was saying and my encouragement again is just also talk to people you care about, you know, run it by some other people. If there’s some business people in your life that run small business, other industries are often the innovation in another industry, sometimes as the breakthrough for the industry you’re in. If you can just make that connection. So,

Allison: (26:44)
Okay, so our three takeaways today are number one, I’m going to tell you to get out of the Facebook pages that are making you scared. Don’t do that anymore because fear is not helping you find places where you feel inspired, people who are doing things you want to do that are exciting and have that growth mindset. Talk to people in other industries. I bet they have a lot to say. Talk to your patients. What do they have to say? What do they want? I bet you they don’t want what you had before either they just accepted it because that’s what it was. There’s, there’s huge opportunity here and then create some time for yourself after you’ve gone back to work to reevaluate the new systems, what’s working, what doesn’t, what could you just totally change if you wanted to. Those are our takeaways.

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