How to Obturate a Root Canal with Multiple Canals in One RootNovember 29, 2023
Use Lifebook to Design Your Ideal Life as a DentistNovember 29, 2023
I was recently invited onto The Mint Door Podcast, hosted by Dr. Laura Schwindt and Dr. Karen Tindall, who have created an online community, coaching programs, and other support for dentists to truly flourish. After all, we may spend a lot of our energy caring for our patients, but we need a little TLC, too!
You can watch the full episode here:
Empowering Dentists and Endodontists
I didn’t set out to reshape parts of the dental world. I just wanted to practice dentistry, and later endodontics, and care for patients. But the more I saw my personal tooth story in the people who came into my practice, the more I knew there was a systemic problem. My situation—where a lack of endodontic knowledge in my doctor support network as a teenager made me lose the wrong tooth and suffer through months of debilitating pain before I could get a root canal—was sadly not a one-off situation.
So, I started off by educating dental residents in my community. Then, I began teaching practicing general dentists. From the beginning, my goal with this effort was to empower dentists and endodontists to elevate their skills, enhance patient outcomes, and optimize practice efficiency.
At the same time, I was working on all of this myself! None of us are born as expert tooth savers; we all have to earn it through experience and continuing education. But the more I learned and observed, the more I realized I had important endo tips and tricks I needed to share with the world.
So I built E-School, my online endo CE training for dentists, which makes endodontic continuing education simple and tangible, drawing from my own experiences. It’s full of endodontic truth bombs, and several of my students have called it a mini endo residency.
When I was on The Mint Door Podcast, it was heartwarming to hear Dr. Schwindt and Dr. Tindall share a success story about one of their clients who had taken E-School and raved about it. Knowing that I’m making a positive impact on fellow dental professionals truly warms my heart. That’s what it’s all about!
Peeling Back the Layers: Unmasking Vulnerability
Now, let’s dive into the core of our conversation on The Mint Door Podcast. Dr. Schwindt and Dr. Tindall asked me to go deep and talk about the insecurities I’ve felt—a time that I hid behind my professional mask.
Let’s be real: I’m far from perfect, and this question really resonated for me, because it has been one of my biggest points of growth in my life.
Earlier in my career, I really struggled with vulnerability, because it felt like I was letting people in too close. If I showed my flaws, would my team still respect and trust me? Would they want to work with me? It was super scary to imagine being judged for not having it all together. So, I projected an image of perfection, one without flaws or vulnerabilities.
But instead of making me appear strong, having to constantly keep the mask on just eroded my confidence, and it exhausted me. Plus, it made my team feel like shit, because they could never measure up to the perfect standards they believed I held for them (and myself).
And the second that I, as the dentist and practice owner, didn’t have it all together, I knew the house of cards would come tumbling down. I was so scared that I’d be seen as weak.
So what did I do? I held onto control even tighter, and team turnover went way up in my practice. It wasn’t a great place to work, because there was this tense, masculine energy of achievement permeating the workplace culture. And that stifled my team and me from being our authentic selves in not just the practice, but in more aspects of our lives. Basically… it sucked, and I don’t recommend it.
Beyond the Breaking Point
As I shared with the audience of The Mint Door Podcast, there was a point where I straight up broke. I couldn’t handle the self-imposed pressure any longer.
That was the day when I first allowed myself to be vulnerable in front of my team. It was a pivotal and terrifying moment. There was no pre-planned announcement; it was a raw, messy breakdown.
Some of my team really saw me for who I was the first time, and they honored that vulnerability. This helped me start to realize that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of humanity and strength. Starting to be vulnerable allowed me to build trust with my colleagues and nourish relationships even beyond work. I had to embrace the feminine energy we all have within us to take my growth to the next level.
There were definitely some team members who didn’t accept my vulnerability. Before too long, they left the practice to find work environments that were a better fit for them. But this departure led to the formation of a stronger core team that remains with me to this day. I could not love my team more, y’all. The transformation in our team dynamics was astonishing. The trust we developed by sharing our vulnerabilities has allowed us to work together more seamlessly every year.
Now, know that I still love control, but I have a healthier relationship with it. Instead of having to have my hand in everything, I have a policy of witnessing mastery instead of just handing someone a how-to guide. It’s not blind trust; it’s trust in witnessing their mastery.
The Road to Burnout and Beyond
Our conversation on The Mint Door Podcast then turned towards burnout, because it’s so prevalent in dentistry. My own experience with burnout in my practice eventually propelled me to explore new avenues, but while I was in it, I felt so stuck. I was trapped within the four walls of my practice, doing day-to-day tasks that I wanted to delegate. I never got enough time to spend with my growing family, travel, or simply rest. I was starting to truly resent my practice.
So, I decided to delegate everything that wasn’t in my zone of genius. I would diagnose teeth, create treatment plans, and perform root canals, etc. But I didn’t need to chase down payments, make appointments, or even take x-rays. This shift in mindset led to a tremendous change in how I operated my practice and how I approached my team.
In the end, this change brought me full circle, to a better appreciation of how vulnerability is actually a superpower that can transform your life. It strengthened my relationships, empowered my team, and allowed me to focus on what truly matters. It also gave me the freedom to pursue my passion for teaching root canals and providing valuable education to fellow dentists.
It was such a pleasure speaking with Dr. Schwindt and Dr. Tindall on The Mint Door Podcast, and I hope my recap of our conversation gives you some food for thought.
Wanting to go deeper with your personal growth and practice improvements? It all starts with your vision, so I invite you to explore Lifebook, the best tool I know for creating a strong, clear vision for your practice and your life.
Stay inspired, stay passionate, and keep giving teeth a chance!