By Fred Joyal
As I was taking my last bike ride of the year, riding along the beach, on the return leg I was facing a very strong headwind. And it made me think of how 2020 was for me because, on my personal road back to prosperity, I faced some pretty strong headwinds.
It also reminded me that on the first leg of my ride, I had a strong tailwind. As riders, we usually don’t notice that until we look down at the speedometer. We just think we’re doing really well, feeling really strong that day.
And then I reflected on the fact that, economically, we have all enjoyed a strong tailwind for the past ten years.
The drawback with having a strong tailwind is you don’t get stronger. It’s not challenging. With a headwind, you’ve got to work harder, you’ve got to put your head down. You’ve got to pedal faster to go slower. You’ve got to shift gears.
It’s the same with your practice and your life.
Think about 2020. With the shut-down, patients reluctant to return, team members who wouldn’t come back to work because they didn’t feel safe, questionable support for the dental industry, and many other challenges, we faced some mighty headwinds.
Before that, we had a long run of people paying for their dentistry, taking care of their teeth, and practices growing at a nice steady pace. It allowed us to buy new equipment, do marketing and advertising and bonus our teams. And some dentists, facing these new headwinds, didn’t make the right choices. They didn’t see where technology and processes that made it safer and faster for the patient to be in the office would make a significant difference. They didn’t adjust to the shift in patient behavior and patient mindset, and watched their practices shrink.
And there were others who figured out how to accommodate their patients, protect their team and get the money that the government provided in order to keep their doors open. They started doing teledentistry. They started taking many more emergencies. They even saw it as a chance to eliminate some of their more problematic (read, non-profitable) patients.
If you weathered this year, you’ll find going into 2021 that your practice is stronger. The choices you made to sustain your practice, by determining who were the strongest players on your team, streamlining your operation and adapting new software and technology, will pay dividends for years to come.
I even see that dentistry as a whole got stronger, because the healthcare industry suddenly realized that oral health is essential to maintaining people’s overall health and immune systems. That’s a big shift that happened much more quickly because of this headwind. This new understanding actually got a tailwind, and probably accelerated the appreciation of dentistry by five years or more.
Maybe the headwinds knocked you off the path. That’s going to happen to some of us, and it’s not always our fault. But it’s a strong reminder that there is no such thing as a permanent tailwind. Or maybe you just wished the problems would go away and things would get back to the way they were.
Complaining about the headwind never makes it go away. It only makes the journey harder. I’ve seen nothing more effective this year than the application of positivity in the face of extreme difficulty.
I’ve also seen that the practices who succeeded were the ones who got coaching, particularly those who worked with Fortune Management. Fortune immediately went into action and created a 12 -Week Recover Plan for their clients to deal with this crisis and adapt new strategies and tactics to stay strong. It’s a powerful lesson to not try to figure it out all by yourself.
I remember my biking coach telling me, when I was struggling with a headwind on a ride earlier this year, to lower my body and use the lower part of the handlebars to grip so that I would face less wind resistance. Why didn’t I think of that? Too busy pedaling as hard as I can.
So, it’s not just about putting your head down and working harder. It’s about getting insight, advice, guidance and embracing adaptability. We have to be willing to change and learn. That’s not just a survival technique. It’s a thriving technique.
This year, we might have to keep pedaling harder, because the headwinds are not abating just yet. Don’t fear these headwinds. Appreciate them, and get stronger and smarter. And get help. And then, when the next tailwind hits, you’ll go even faster. Won’t that be fun?!