In virtually all aspects of life, mindset is a choice. It really is that simple. When it comes to growing an independent dental practice, you have either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. What is not so simple is that, in dentistry, if you expect to survive as a private practice owner, you cannot afford to have a fixed mindset.
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The disconnect arises because virtually every practice owner believes they have a growth mindset, not recognizing signs to the contrary. Honest self-assessment will help change your mindset so that you can transform a stagnant business into a growing one that is well positioned to thrive.
Fixed mindset characteristics
- Will not admit to struggling
- Blames problems on limited supply, limited resources, limited staffing, limited whatever
- Avoids obstacles and challenges
- Lacks perseverance
- Doesn’t know why something failed, but doesn’t put in the effort to figure out why, learn from that, and try again
- Unwilling to accept criticism and constructive feedback
- Threatened by the success of others instead of learning from them
- Self-absorbed; does a lot of comparing and complaining that leads to rolling discontentment
- Controlling; unwilling to ask for help or cede control to someone more experienced
- The ultimate result for an independent practice owner with a fixed mindset is that the business tends to plateau early and fall way short of its potential success.
Growth mindset characteristics
- A good student; desires to learn, including about themselves
- Seeks out, accepts, and applies feedback
- Embraces challenges
- Persists in the face of obstacles
- Stays positive; too busy working through obstacles to spend time complaining
- Measures their own effort, not just the effort of others
- Finds lessons and inspiration in the success of others
- Is self-aware; compares in order to assess others’ actions and results in relation to their own for the sake of learning
- Willing to let go; asks for help and turns over control to someone with a proven track record of success
The ultimate result for an independent practice owner with a growth mindset is that over the long term, the business grows to a level of success beyond what they ever thought possible.
Let go to gain control
Your business reflects your mindset because it affects your behaviors, decisions, and actions—how you run the practice, how you manage the team, how you work with patients. Take inventory of your mindset and accept that it is a choice. A fixed mindset becomes a trap that results in a plateau, whereas a growth mindset inspires the energy and ideas that lead to improved results.
I derive great personal gratification from coaching independent practice owners and helping them change their mindset, and then watching them transform their practices to achieve new levels of success. Be willing to accept that you don’t know what you don’t know. Ask for help from those with more expertise in profitable practice management and business development. Find a community of growth-minded practice owners willing to share what works and what doesn’t.
If what you are doing is not working to generate growth, continuing to cling to what you are doing will be your demise. Letting go will allow you to gain control over your path to growth.
Editor's note: This article appeared in the November 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.
Jay Geier is a world authority on growing independent practices. He is the founder and CEO of Scheduling Institute, a firm that specializes in training and development and coaching doctors on how to transform their private practices into thriving businesses they can keep for a lifetime of revenue or sell for maximum dollar. To hear more, subscribe to Jay’s Private Practice Playbook podcast at podcastfordoctors.com/dentec.