Use a “Growth Mindset” to Be Ready for Your Dental Comeback!

Tonya Lanthier

Do You Have a Comeback Mindset?

When the doors to your practice open, will you be ready? Will you be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with team members who are ready? Our ability to innovate and find new operational efficiencies is critical, but perhaps more critical to our comeback success is our “growth mindset.”

Belief systems, both conscious and unconscious, can help or hinder our abilities and our behavior. Our mindsets are rooted in our belief systems and determine our outcomes and probability for success.

In Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she shares research that tackles and proves the successful outcomes of those with a “fixed” mindset versus a “growth mindset.” Spoiler alert: those with growth mindsets outperform and have better success rates than those with fixed mindsets. And these are the team members that practices seek and need for our industry’s comeback! 

So what are these mindsets exactly? 

A “fixed mindset” indicates that our personalities, intelligence, and abilities are static and we can’t change them in any significant or remarkable way. People in this mindset are basically in survival mode, striving for success by avoiding failure at all costs. 

A “growth mindset” not only welcomes challenges but thrives on it. Growth mindset folks see failure not as a determination of their shortcomings, but rather as a means for growth and for stretching themselves. This mindset does not get stopped in the face of adversity but digs deeper to push through. 

Given the challenges ahead of us in the dental industry, we can’t afford the status quo or negative thinking. We must adjust our mindsets to be focused on improving and letting our challenges and failures be the fuel for our growth! It will be a give and take as we implement new schedules, procedures, and systems to accommodate the post-COVID-19 office. It may take a while for things to get back to normal and will take time getting used to whatever your new team or new workday looks like. No one has it all figured out, but we must move forward anyway.

We can do the best we humanly can with a growth mindset.  

And some things will change for the better. In disruption, change is inevitable. Our human nature is to remain comfortable and to resist change. We do not want to be removed from our comfy spot. Once we embrace our reality and the uncertainty, then growth comes and awakens in us a new drive. In many aspects of our lives, we have become complacent. Consider this as a gift and opportunity to renew our daily practices. So, now we can take more care and concern with the things that matter. 

When it comes to our attitudes, which can greatly affect our mindsets, it’s important to realize that it’s a whole new ball game––some of the old rules, at least for now, may be gone. Give up your expectations of how things were, to help get the doors back open. Salaries, schedules, as well as the written and unwritten rules, like who is responsible for PPE, may no longer exist or not meet your expectations.

Trust and help your team members by going above and beyond to do your part. That could mean you have to supply your own PPE for some time. A good practice leader will take care of you when they can. They are doing their best and need your support. If you are a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, don’t just sit on the sidelines waiting.

Use a growth mindset to take action!

If you are worried about the return to work, take steps to assure your peace of mind and comfort. For example, if PPE is a concern: 

  • Order a face shield. We’ve created a list of PPE vendors in our Road To Recovery Hub. If you know of a good source for quality PPE, let us know and we will add it to the list! 
  • Order the mask and gloves you need to feel protected and comfortable.
  • Ask what you can do to help. See what you can do to support your dentist in getting the doors back open. It could be reconnecting with patients or supporting the front office manager with reschedules. Every little bit helps and is appreciated. 

I have worked in dentistry for 25 years and temped in over 100 offices. I saw many dental professionals take responsibility for themselves and buy their own equipment, loops, and PPE in normal times. My grandmother told me to choose my battles and choose them wisely. This is exactly the advice we need to keep our attitudes in check and our mindsets in growth mode.

We must not get discouraged!

We must rally each other to face the challenges of the unknown with courage and determination, without fear of failure. Thrive as an industry and not just survive! We need to think BIGGER and think BIGGER TOGETHER! 

Stanford Psychologist and Author of “Mindset” has said: “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” This quote sums it all up perfectly because it’s time to stretch…beyond our limits. We got this!

See article on Dental Post website:

January 20, 2021
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