Surround yourself with the right people

March 1, 2008
My grandma said, "You are only as good as the company you keep." This age-old wisdom is as true today as it was 100 years ago.

by Theodore C. Schumann, CPA, CFP

My grandma said, "You are only as good as the company you keep." This age-old wisdom is as true today as it was 100 years ago. The logic of this statement reminds us how important it is to wisely choose the people who surround us. It is truly important to choose friends, staff, mentors, and others that support our vision and goals, yet who challenge us to be our best.

Surrounding yourself in your practice with the right people who have great attitudes is truly one of the keys to both success and happiness. Having the wrong staff with the wrong attitudes can be the recipe for continual stress and frustration. One of the most difficult tasks you must face as a leader is knowing when someone doesn’t quite fit, and being brave enough to replace the people who are just not cutting it.

In today’s world, we go to extraordinary measures to protect our personal computers from viruses and hackers. We use antivirus software, passwords, and physical measures to make sure that our information is protected. Yet, too often we allow anyone with a bad attitude to program our subconscious mind. It is important to remember that the subconscious mind cannot take a joke. It believes everything we allow into it. Allowing people to put the wrong messages in our subconscious mind is like allowing someone to sabotage our computer with all the important files in it, or like allowing a virus into our personal computer. Nothing good can come from it!

Successful people understand how important it is to give the right people access to their subconscious mind. They understand the important role of mentors. One of the greatest ways to enhance your success is to choose the right mentors, which are a great resource for personal and professional development.

Why is mentorship so important? You don’t have all the answers, and in order to grow in your field, you need a voice that understands where you’re coming from and what your goals are. A mentor provides the wisdom you haven’t yet achieved, or the motivation you need to take bold action. While you won’t always agree with your mentor, you will learn to appreciate all he or she teaches you.

Choosing the right mentor is not always easy. You must first know what you want. You need to know how having a mentor will help you reach your goals. It helps to choose someone who has experience in the areas you want to develop. Remember, mentors play the role of parent, teacher, and friend. It is important to find the right person that will not only guide you in the right direction and share his or her wisdom, but who will listen to your wants and needs, and even take some time out to have fun.

Finding the right mentor

The process of finding a mentor starts with creating a list of well-respected people who may be able to help you. It is not necessary for your mentor to be famous, rather it is more important to choose a person who has the time, energy, and desire to help you. Look for someone who is a good teacher. Test your list out with trusted colleagues for their reaction.

When you find the people you may want to invite to be your mentor, it is important when you talk to them to be very clear about what you expect from them. Most effective people had mentors of their own and will be flattered that you are asking.

That is the most important thing to remember about mentorship — it is a two-way street and someday you will need to return the favor and mentor someone else. Being another person’s mentor is a great gift, as you will have the opportunity to share your own wisdom and experience, and in the process you will make your own mentors very proud.

There is tremendous power in choosing the people to surround you. Just make sure that you are as good as the company you keep.

Theodore C. Schumann, CPA, CFP®, speaks on dental business topics and regularly lectures at the University of Michigan Dental School, the University of Detroit-Mercy Dental School, and dental meetings throughout the United States. He is host for a study group for dentists, and authors a monthly newsletter. Reach Schumann via e-mail at [email protected].

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