In today’s episode of The Authentic Dentist Podcast, Shawn Zajas and Dr. Allison House, DMD, talk about “The Missing Piece”, what that looked like in their lives, and what it might look like in yours.
It’s easy to dream big and say you will do brand new things, but when it’s time to buckle down and actually initiate change, it can prove to be much more difficult than originally thought – sometimes even scary. Regardless, people love to grow.
Join Shawn and Dr. House as they answer questions like “What causes us to be blinded when we feel stuck?” and “Where is my deficit?” Be prepared to identify your “missing piece” and take your practice – and personal life – to a brand-new level!
Full Transcript Below
This is Shawn and Allison with the authentic dentist podcast. And I feel like this is kind of common now where we just get excited about what we’re going to share. And this one was something that we weren’t even planning. It just came up because of what is happening right now in your life. So we’re just going to share our journey as it’s unraveling right now. And it’s going to be all about the missing piece. Not just identifying it, but kind of how to overcome it. So Alison, how did this come about?
Well, you’ll remember my podcast in March where we talked about, you know, making all these changes in my practice and how this was an opportunity. And I really thought it was back in March. So here we will. In six weeks I had all this planning, I put all these things together and then May 1st comes along the practices open again, and I’m right back to doing what I’ve always done. Just, just like that after I’d set it on, on our podcast and I put all these things in place, and yet I was so grateful just to be open that I just hit the ground running back into my old life.
So what we talked about was COVID was a bomb that we could welcome because it was, it was blowing up the practice as it was. And instead of going back to what the practice was, we had people, we were encouraging people to get, to create the practice of their dreams. And instead of just building up to what it was getting to form things and question things and challenge things, and this is what you’re saying that you shared.
So I created this huge vision for myself and what I wanted and how I wanted my practice to be. And then the minute we’re back to work, I’m right back into the old routine. And I think we all do that. Don’t we, we have these visions and then we just sort of let it go because we’re back on the everyday life, the time to make the donuts thing. So here we are. And now it’s November and it’s been a long time and I haven’t been moving forward. And why, why am I still doing the same thing I’ve always done.
And by forward, you mean like you identified a dream and there was something specific you were wanting to move toward. And it, in all fairness to give you credit, you’ve moved forward with this dream of yours in so many ways, but it hasn’t come to fruition completely yet. It hasn’t completely taken it. Hasn’t launched
Well, I’ve spent a lot of money and a lot of time putting together this dream of doing some removable. I have a lab in my office now I want an oral surgeon. I want to put all these pieces together and I can’t seem to figure out how to pull it all together and make it happen. And I feels like I don’t have time. I mean, I just keep rolling forward in my regular life. So what is it, why can’t I pull all these pieces together and create the dream well. So I’ve been stressed about this for a while now. I’ve been thinking about it for six weeks, worried, how am I going to do this and how I’m going to find the time to do this. And I can’t find anybody to help me. So meanwhile, my 22 year old son has been living with us, looking for a job. He has a master’s degree in math. He’s a brilliant young man and I’ve been frustrated with him for not getting a job. And just yesterday, I just sat back and went, wait a second. This person is sitting right in front of me, who can program, who can work in video games, who can solve problems. He came to my office and wrote a program to pull Eaglesoft information into QuickBooks one day, one day. Why did I not see this? This is crazy. He was sitting right there in front of me.
So just to give a moment for you as a mom, to just brag a little bit about your son, like you said, he’s smart, but just tell our listeners a little bit about what, what it means to have this son, like how smart is he?
He’s very smart.
Don’t don’t you like, meaning in math, wasn’t there a test awkward to talk about? This is your chance. He’s your son.
Okay. So I don’t know. In second grade, JD took this math test and he scored in the top 2% internationally on this test. We sent him to the Herberger school for the gifted. He graduated from high school at 16, started his journey at ASU. Graduated from college at 20, finished his master’s degree at 21 and started his PhD at 20, at 21 in math. So yes, when I say he’s smart, he’s smart,
But they get some award too. From ASU.
He won the Dean’s medal at 20, he’s a smart kid. He’s a really smart kid.
And, and you’ve, you’ve known this. So, so Alison, you know, as my partner, we probably, most of the time consistently see each other almost once a week. You know, so some months it’s like three times instead of four times. And you know, w we talk about life before we talk about what the authentic Dennis and what we’re doing, and yet it comes up like, Hmm, de de like, this is his future. What what’s he thinking? Doors? Aren’t opening he’s at my house.
Well, he decided not to finish the PhD because it was in Davis, California, and you can’t get on campus. There were fires. California’s pretty much shut down. It just wasn’t a good environment for him. So he came back to Arizona and thought, well, I’ll just get a job. I’ll work for a year or two. And then maybe I’ll go back, get my PhD. Maybe I’ll go into, he talked about a PhD in economics. I mean, he’ll do something, but in the meantime, he was looking for a job and it’s a weird time to be looking for a job. So he’s been living with us for the last three, four months. And he’s, hasn’t been working except with his tutoring business, which frustrates me because I’ve never not had a job. So here’s this kid, this brilliant child who could put all the pieces together right in front of my nose. And I’m complaining about this. And yeah, he’s the missing piece. It’s unbelievable. I didn’t see it.
Well. So this morning, as Alison is sharing with me, I’m thinking, man, it’s a situation where something that was a problem and was causing frustration was actually meant to be the answer to one of your frustrations. Professionally here, you have this dream of doing of restorative. Like, I don’t know how to
It’s the all on four. And I’ve done all the training for it. I just couldn’t pull it together because of the technology.
But when did you even identify that?
Oh, I identified that this summer that it was a technology that was confusing to me. And there must be something, a software, something that I’m missing. That’s not allowing me to pull this all together.
So this summer you identified it, you already had your assembling, the other pieces, like you said, you have your own in-office lab. Yes. Like congratulations. And now you have found, and this amazing oral surgeon that is also going to be working with you, like, congratulations on setting that up by then. There was just this one, like, how do I overcome? So it’s like this area, you know, with technology, but you didn’t know what it was. So it’s like, even as you’re looking at it, like, I don’t know what were, what was next step?
Well, I guess, I didn’t know. I’m I graduated from dental school in a time when we didn’t really use technology. We didn’t have computers in our operatories. Everything was analog. I can wax things up. I know how to try things in, but yeah, this is just a whole different ball game to work in a digital world. So I went to the lab meetings with my lab and I’ve learned, I know how to work things, but you had to put it all digital, just, it scares me. It scares me to, to move forward. And I need somebody to hold my hand and show me how to do it.
Okay. So what happened is this week, you’re talking with your oral surgeon and she shares something about the actual software that is needed that I didn’t have, and you’re seeing it. And she said, it’s like a video game.
Yeah. It’s like a video game.
So between her saying that, and the fact that your son earlier in the week, or the previous week solved that integration in your practice, he just wrote a script, created something out of nowhere that massively solved a problem for you.
It took like 10 hours a week off of me with his Python script that he just, you just push the button and it does all of it for you. Oh my God.
So all of a sudden that happens, then she says this it’s like a video game. And then you realize like, that’s when the connection happened. My son, who’s no longer a boy. Who’s 22 years old capable young man.
And that’s part of the problem. It’s really hard to see your kid as an adult. So I have to step back and say, okay, he’s a grown man. He can do this 18 year old daddy. Couldn’t do this 16 year old daddy couldn’t do this, but 22 year old daddy can do this.
So that’s where I am just like beside myself, like hearing as this all unfolded this morning. And that’s why we’re so excited to share with you guys, like realizing something right under Allison’s nose. Like literally, like I can just kind of picture it like, Oh, I’m so frustrated. Like I want the best for my son. Maybe he needs to be out of the house. He doesn’t, you know, he’s not getting a job doors. Aren’t opening up. Meanwhile, Oh, I really want to do he’s all in for, I have everything lined up, but there’s something missing. I don’t like the technology piece and how, who do I know? And then all of a sudden it’s like the connection happens. And it’s like, how it doesn’t really matter that you didn’t see it before. It’s like, when you see it, it’s like, wow.
So not just, I mean, this was a revelation for me, but it’s happened in other aspects of my life where I want to do something. And I have a team member that I’m irritated with because they’re bored and making that connection that that team member could figure this problem out. And in fact it would be an amazing growth opportunity for them and it would solve my problem. And when I’ve done that in the past, I mean, it just opened my eyes to people love to grow. People love to learn when you give them. But sometimes we just, we just put them in a box. This is who you are. This is what you do. And I’m not gonna let you do anything else.
And I think that’s one of the things that we want to share today is that why is it that sometimes we’re like, what causes us to be blinded? When we feel stuck? When all of a sudden it seems like we’ve, we’re lining things up or moving toward our dreams, but then there’s that missing link, that missing piece that we don’t always, we don’t even have clarity necessarily on what it is all the time. But even if we identify what it is, we don’t always know what’s going to get us unstuck. I think we realized like part of it is that we make assumptions that aren’t correct. You know, the assumption that my son isn’t, I don’t know, not recognizing he’s an adult that is incredibly capable and I’m not just looking at him as a mother, concerned over her son trying to get a job. But like, he actually has a value right now. And instead of him bringing that value to another company, he can actually be the solution to the problem that you’re having. Like, like, wow.
Yeah. And I didn’t see it.
And another thing I think is like this idea of ego and it, I think it stops me a lot is I don’t always, I don’t know. I like as vulnerable as I want to be. I’m not always comfortable telling everybody, Hey guys, I don’t understand this. And this is, what’s getting me stuck. And I think you see a lot in Facebook groups. People want to be like semi honest, but no, one’s just super excited to say, Hey look like,
Well, that’s the thing had I asked in March, had I been vulnerable in March and truly asked, how do I put all this technology that I have working together? Somebody could have helped me, but it didn’t for whatever reason, my ego wouldn’t allow me to ask the question and it’s it wasn’t going to be that difficult. It was just, I needed the software and then I needed all of it to talk to each other. This is not a dental thing. This is a technology thing, but I didn’t ask, I didn’t ask the question.
If someone had said to you, you need someone that is tech savvy that kind of can understand software software. That’s kind of like almost like a video meeting. There’s like a few words that if they would have strung them together and said, this is kind of who you’re looking for, that would have been really simple for you to be like, Oh my God, J D but yet, you know what I mean? Like those connections just didn’t happen. And, and for such a time as this, like the timing is completely right, but it’s like, as we’re taking a step back and trying to help people kind of question where they’re stuck, it’s like, yeah, question the assumptions that you’re making that are getting you to not see those connections there, you know, try to question, where is it that you you’re stuck with? Just like boxes, you know, you just kind of keep things in these boxes. Well, this is the convention. This is like the normal path of the way things should be is that you, you do this, you know, and sometimes you have to challenge the conventions. I would say it’s very unconventional to think that the number one solution to your dream is going to be your son
And, you know, for the last 22 years, that wasn’t true. But yes, moving forward, having somebody that can program in Python, who can put some things together for me, I mean, he just saved me 10 hours a week. I need to just view people as more than what they are currently. You need to stop, be honest, where is my deficit? And then I’m always trying to fill that deficit by myself. Okay. What do I need to learn? What do I need to educate myself? But the truth is there’s people around me that I could educate and they could take that role on. Maybe I don’t have to do everything. That’s really hard for me sometimes, but I don’t have to do everything in my practice. I could ask for help,
You know, and looking into the new year right now, I think as people are doing those kinds of like end of year planning, and I think that’s one of the next podcasts we’re going to do, not the very next one, but in the future, we’re going to do a, how to plan your meeting.
Yes. We’re going to spend some time on that podcast because I really want you all to set up in January a meeting with your team outside your office. It’s going to take a half a day to really plan your year because you got to think it won’t happen unless you plan it.
I think one of the exciting things that’s going to happen in that session because of 2020 is like intentionally looking, where is it that my team grew because of COVID because of this craziness, what areas of growth do I need to recognize and acknowledge? And because of seeing them, I don’t know, it’s almost like what resources do I have access to in them, in the human resources, in their resilience and their willingness to adapt in their passion for something that cause maybe they had to take on a hat they weren’t used to. And they actually blossom.
And you know, as you say, that, that happened with my team, totally happened with my team. We lost our office manager this year and I didn’t replace her. And so that’s part of the 10 hours extra week I was spending on QuickBooks, but the other members of my team did not want to replace her. So they each took a little bit more and they just blossomed. They, they just, they were amazing. They took on more responsibility than they taken on before and they loved it and they grew and they suggested things. So truthfully in the last six months, my practice has been doing very well because all of my team members have pulled and took it on tasks that they didn’t even know they could do. I didn’t know they could do it. They didn’t know they could do it, but what is it? Necessity is the mother of invention,
You know? And then I think like lastly it’s like sometimes where we don’t see possible connections or possibilities for this missing link, just because of like our own past failures. So we, I don’t know. It’s like we just let that define us too much. So it’s like, well, you know, I’ve tried to figure out some tech before in the past and I, I can’t do it. Like I’m not tech savvy. So then all of a sudden you just kind of feel stuck because you don’t know someone that is. And you’re like, well, in the past I’ve been stuck. So I guess I’m just doomed to be stuck in the future because I’ve never been able to overcome this.
And that has happened to me this year too. I have a 28 year old assistant and I was just really struggling with something and she just came in and fixed it. She called the tech company, took her 10 minutes. Wow, wow. I just needed to empower her. So I told her, yeah, I want you to do these things. And she did. And all I had to do was ask and she was excited too. She’s very proud of herself.
You don’t just this week I thought about it. So you know, part of my team, we went on this retreat to do kind of like a, you know, an audit and kind of just find out like, Hey, how did this past year go? So we do our year end, you know, kind of in November, December and well, the other part of the team that we left behind to kind of man the office we talked to them, the next thing we’re like, Hey, how did Monday go? And they’re like, Oh, like all day we were trying to figure out this Excel thing. It was just terrible. And you know, so me and another person were like, well kind of just share with us what the problem is. And maybe we can help out. And we ended up solving it like seven minutes, but it caused like derail them for half of the day.
And sometimes it’s like, I don’t know. You just kind of feel like, well, I’m the one responsible for this? Or I’m the one that trusted with this. So I don’t want to bug someone else. I don’t want to ask for help, but it’s like, help is right there. It’s someone else. And that’s where there’s this shift. And especially like for, I believe any office that survived, COVID probably found out that the team allowed them to survive. You probably had to rely more on people that you weren’t, that you just didn’t rely on as much. And I would say like going into 2021, like the gold that you found in that team dynamic that has now emerged, like cultivate that even more because team and relying on each other and trusting each other and having each other’s backs. Like I remember there were years Alison, that I had employees, but I didn’t have a team.
And there’s such a difference. There’s such a difference between your employees and your team and not just by how you’re talking about them, but how they just pull in. I I’m always amazed by that. We’re going to do a podcast on that. We should. Okay. So in closing, what is it? I don’t know. What do you want to leave people with in regard to this? Well, I’ve learned two powerful lessons in the last two days. The first one is I should have been honest at first and you know, you think you’re being honest, but I should have stepped back and really been honest when people say, how can I help you? I CA I don’t know how to do this. I should’ve just admitted it to myself, admitted to other people and ask the question because I would have moved faster. And number two, look around you and see where you’re under. Lou utilizing people. People want to step up, they want to grow. We all do. What can you ask of your team? What can you ask the people around you? What can you ask of your kid? You don’t have to have all the answers they’re sitting right in front of you. Just look.