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a blog by Chris Barrow

Suicide notes, enthusiasm and disconnections

My first observation today is to report two situations that occurred in the last few days and give you my thoughts: A dental receptionist refuses to attend one of our Saturday TCO training courses (at her Employer’s expense) because she has a Saturday “hobby”. A nurse who we thought wanted to become the practice “social media champion” tells her Principal that she will read a book I have recommended “provided he babysits her child while she reads it” In both cases we are talking about nicely done mixed practices, with decent pay and surroundings, not some Death Star Dental Corporate where minimum wages and systems apply. My thoughts are that both of these young ladies have just delivered what I describe as a verbal “suicide note” on their careers. I pause and ask myself whether my increasingly intolerant attitude towards off-brand employees and clinicians is a sign of old age? Or a response to harsh economic reality – that the business of dentistry is tougher in 2013 than at any time in the last 20 years – and that folks need to be glad they have a job at all? Provided pay and conditions are fair – it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask team members to demonstrate that “indispensability” that Seth Godin talks about in his book “Linchpin”.

“The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions, meeting spec, and being managed. Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can. The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it’s a job. Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people. I call the process of doing your art ‘the work.’ It’s possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that’s how you become a linchpin. The job is not the work.”

On a more positive note – a shout out for the team(s) at Dental Excellence in Northern Ireland, who welcomed me to their Portadown and Derry practices yesterday for team training sessions. We talked about the “state of the nation” as far as dentistry is concerned. The rise of corporates and retailers. The most popular products. The best patient types. Most importantly, the ATTITUDE to be demonstrated by all team members towards patients. We agreed that successful dental business is 98% understanding people and 2% clinical skill. That you have to have 100% of the 2%. But that its the 98% “knowing what makes people tick” that will ensure prosperity in an increasingly competitive market. I thank everyone at “DE” for their attitude towards me yesterday. I know they “get it”. Finally – disconnection. After the events of the last week, we have decided to take a break from “The Connected World” – for just 7 days. No internet, no devices, no social media. Not even an iPhone. Just 10 days unplugged from The Matrix. So don’t worry if you don’t hear from us – we are safe and secure – we just want a breather before the Autumn season starts on 1st September.

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