Building a successful dental practice has some unique demands. The “owner” of the practice is often the dentist, and unlike most bosses, the dentist is unable to actively manage their team for most of the working day. That means, for the practice to be successful, you must have systems and standards of performance in place for everyone on the team.

Unfortunately, many dental practices don’t have the appropriate systems working for them. Rather, there is a pervasive attitude of “If it’s working, why bother doing anything about it?” This is an unconscious acceptance of the “status quo.”

"Dr. John"

Dr. John

Consider a fictional dentist. “Dr. John” started his career with great ambitions. After working as an associate for a handful of years, he met a dentist looking to retire and sell his practice. It was in a decent location and had a small but solid patient base. So Dr. John went for it.

Some time later, though, he found himself really struggling. Those loyal patients failed to return. He had to hire a new front desk person seemingly every few months. There was a trickle of new patients, but they resisted his treatment plans.

What went wrong?

Dr. John, by nature, was a laid back guy. He always found that the easiest path was the one with the fewest challenges. He didn’t like confrontation. He hated risk. Doesn’t sound out of the ordinary. He was working hard to lead a lovely, peaceful life. Well, in some respects, he was successful. But the net result of Dr. John’s choices is that his practice, and his livelihood, floundered.

Accepting Mediocrity

The Status Quo > Mediocrity

Dr. John suffered from a bad case of mediocrity stemming from his acceptance of the status quo.

Websters dictionary defines status quo as “The current situation; as it is now.” A snapshot of a moment in time. How does this apply to dentistry? Most successful people know that ventures tend to grow or contract. There is very little coasting. A “flatline” is a bad sign. But unfortunately, it is very common to simply accept things as they are with no plan to improve. And this leads to the curse of mediocrity — accepting average or ordinary performance. Accepting mediocrity means you can forget about building a successful dental practice.

While common, no two cases of mediocrity are the same. Signs and symptoms may come on suddenly, or develop slowly. The suffering may be mild or severe, and may be temporary or permanent.

Signs of Mediocrity

How does mediocrity express itself?

There are obvious and subtle ways that mediocrity affects the way we travel through life. But there is no question that the wrong attitude can profoundly impact your success. Here are some ways that the curse of mediocrity can impact you.

  • You fail to connect with people. Mediocrity leads to a poor self-image, and people tend to fail to engage with someone they feel lacking confidence. Employees and patients look to you to be a leader, and it is human nature to require a strong connection with a leader before buying into a vision. This is universal, no matter your industry or position.
  • You have stopped dreaming. If you can’t recall the last time that you daydreamed about the future, then there is a problem. If we choose to allow it, life can become so overbearing that simply coping can take all of our energy. But to overcome mediocrity, you must take time to reflect on where you are, and where you want to be.
  • You always look for the short cut, the silver-bullet, or the “wonder cure”. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you might find all of your energy is spent simply surviving. There is no question that this undermines your success. The problem is that, in most cases, there are no easy solutions. You have to put in the work.
  • Refusal to take chances because of fear or low self-esteem. Life and business are full of choices. Typically, they are made by balancing the perception of risk with the expected reward. Unfortunately, fear and anxiety rise from a lack of self-awareness and an inability to assess your true potential. Bottom line is that there are few opportunities for success that don’t involve some degree of risk, and we can’t let our fears stand in the way.
  • Self-destructive actions due to lack of vision. Similar to inaction due to fear, there are other behavioral expressions of mediocrity, Chief among them is a reluctance to look into the future and imagine your place in it. Often, people get stuck ruminating about the past, or limit themselves to just existing in the present, with no healthy, balanced way of planning for what may come.
  • Settling for low standards in one’s professional life. This is fundamentally the problem with mediocrity – being satisfied with the status quo.

Mediocrity hurts

Origins of Mediocrity

Where does mediocrity come from?

There are several root causes of mediocrity. Some people experience a combination of all of them, while others experience only a few. The causes include but are not limited to:

  • Comfortable with the status quo, and having no desire to grow
  • Negative thoughts arising from within, from external factors, or both
  • Inability to comprehend your true potential for success
  • Making excuses instead of finding solutions to problems
  • Being discouraged by failure
  • Waiting for someone to believe in you, instead of believing in yourself
  • Surrounding yourself with people who have no interest in being great

Escape mediocrity!

Overcoming Mediocrity

This condition is curable, but specific treatment is dependent upon your unique set of signs and symptoms. The most common cures to mediocrity are:

  • Remove negative people from your life. We will never know how great our lives can be when negativity influences our choices. If there are people in your life that are not pushing you to be the best you can be, remove them.
  • Learn to tolerate failure. Even if you fail, keep going. Try Googling “learning from failure,” and read from 345 MILLION articles on why, really, there is no such thing as failure.
  • Be committed. It is a fundamental requirement of success that you work diligently toward a goal. There is no free lunch.
  • Be patient. Our western culture fetishizes overnight success, but those stories that seem to suggest an instant reward inevitably fail to reflect the true nature of diligence and perseverance that is required to succeed. Stick with it!
  • Fear is not real. Unless you are being stalked by a hungry mountain lion, chances are good that the fear and anxiety you experience in life is a product of your imagination. Choose to be unafraid, and be bold in pursuing the life you want.
  • Ask for what you want. There may be a handful of cases in human history where someone is handed success without desiring it, but the rest of us will NEVER receive anything of real value that isn’t asked for. What’s the very worst thing that can happen if you ask for something?
  • Stop looking for approval from others. True value comes from a robust and healthy sense of self, and persists even without external confirmation. Have faith in your abilities and worth and you ARE successful.
  • Stop being afraid to be great. Live to your potential!

Four steps

A Four-Step Process To Build A Successful Dental Practice

Below are four simple steps to a successful dental practice that will give you a process to build a successful dental practice by overcoming inaction and the mediocrity that results.

  1. Seek information. A remarkable thing about the world today, is that whatever the issue, you can find near infinite information about how to overcome. The challenge is that you must move beyond devotion to raw data and learn to apply it to your specific situation.
  2. Be open to the revelation. Be on the lookout for a “Eureka!” moment. This is when the application of “raw data” to your situation makes sense.
  3. Take Action. USE what you have learned to this point and make a plan to put it to work. Without action, you will never get anywhere.
  4. Celebrate the process AND your successes. Remember to celebrate along the way. Take pride in following your path. If you are only focused on the goal, you will miss out on the satisfaction of a job well done — while you are in the middle of it. And if you are too focused on results and you don’t reach them, you will face disappointment. But by taking pleasure from the work — from the process — you will always be successful.

If you need help in building a successful dental practice, and overcoming the status quo in your practice, consider an outside consultant or training program. All-Star Dental Academy offers a unique online training program designed specifically for a customer-service-based approach to the patient experience. It can be paired with coaching services to enhance practical implementation and facilitate mastery of new skills.

Please don’t waste another minute stuck doing what you have been doing.

You are invited to attend a no-cost online training event, Dental Practice Excellence, where we examine some of the weaknesses in the way dental practices are run, and how to overcome them. And you can always give us a call at 954 323 2220 to talk about how we can specifically help your practice achieve its full potential.

Alex Nottingham, JD, MBA

Alex is the CEO and Founder of All-Star Dental Academy. He has authored the dental practice game-changer book “Dental Practice Excellence” and co-wrote a bestselling book with Brian Tracy. Alex has shared the stage with Michael Gerber (the author of “The E–Myth Revisited”), and lectures nationally and internationally to prestigious dental organizations.

He is a former Tony Robbins top coach and consultant, having worked with companies from $1 million to $100 million. His passion is to help others create personal wealth and make a positive impact on the people around them. Alex received his Juris Doctor (JD) and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Florida International University.
Alex Nottingham, JD, MBA