Smooth Sailing

Sept. 1, 2007
One of my relatives, knowing my love for boating, gave me "A Sailor's Guide to Life" by Randy Deering. This book teaches some valuable lessons which can be applied to RUNNING A PRACTICE:

by Theodore C. Schumann, CPA, CFP

One of my relatives, knowing my love for boating, gave me "A Sailor's Guide to Life" by Randy Deering. This book teaches some valuable lessons which can be applied to RUNNING A PRACTICE:

Lesson One: Practice and Fundamentals

A well-run practice is a beautiful thing, like boats gliding across water. Like boaters, the best practices take time to learn the fundamentals of operating the practice, and practice the fundamentals until they've mastered them. This commitment includes investing time when adding new crew members.

Lesson Two: Precautions

No competent sailor would go out to sea in an unsound boat or without knowledge of the boat's construction and equipment, and the same is true of the successful dentist. Careful planning is essential in order to avoid collisions, bad weather, and other problems that may come your way.

Lesson Three: Perspective

In sailing and life, success is relative: Each of us must define it for ourselves. Dentists often feel pressure to define success by someone else's definition, but smart doctors know themselves, their staff, and their potential, and the best doctors know enough to keep things in perspective.

Lesson Four: Purpose

Purpose requires the courage to persevere in spite of difficulties or dangers and remain committed. Like the sailor who commits to a course to reach the intended destination, the successful practitioner must commit to his or her purpose.

Lesson Five: Possibilities

All of us face endless possibilities of directions to travel. To be successful as dentists, we must first learn to navigate our possibilities, and then someday pick a destination.

Lesson Six: Preparation

When a boater sets out, as part of his preparation, he often leaves a float plan outlining the intended course, destination, and estimated time of arrival with a relative or friend. Like a wise skipper, a successful doctor prepares for his successful journey.

Lesson Seven: Performance

Sometimes, we must perform in ways that take us out of our element, stretching our abilities and skills. Like careful skippers, alert to the situation, we must learn from others and our mistakes, and learn to read the winds of change.

Lesson Eight: Perseverance

Often, you face obstacles that stand in the way of success. During these difficult times, you may veer left or right, but always keep your goal in sight. The keys to success are perseverance, patience, and a willingness to continue work despite temporary disturbances.

Lesson Nine: Progress

One of the frustrations of sailing is progress slowed by unfriendly currents or lack of wind, yet the wise sailor knows that it is extremely important to know your position at such times. This is true in your practice as well, where it is important to track your current situation to chart your progress, and knowing key numbers will help.

Lesson Ten: Problems

Problems are an inevitable part of life. If you're not having some kind of difficulty, you might want to check your pulse. When you encounter life's choppy waters, remember that today's problems are simply preparation for tomorrow and next week and next year. At times your problems may seem insurmountable or insoluble. They're not! Weather the storm by drawing strength from others and keeping the faith.

Lesson Eleven: Patience

Sailing offers many excitements, but also the possible frustration of losing your wind and becoming becalmed. There are times when we all feel becalmed; we seem to be going nowhere and each day seems an eternity. It appears we're stuck, unable to move toward our goals, but in time the currents will move us forward again, reenergized.

Lesson Twelve: Peace

We work diligently at producing, achieving, providing -- pushing hard to "make it" in a world that places a high value on productivity. To maintain success, remember to spend time in endeavors that give you great peace. Taking breaks to "charge your battery" will only make you a better dentist.

Reprinted with permission from Dental Business Success Newsletter

Theodore C. Schumann, CPA, CFP speaks on 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 hosts a study group for dentists and writes a monthly newsletter. Email: [email protected]

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