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Episode 7 – Deeper Dive: Owning Your Comfort Zone

“Great leaders demonstrate ease. When they walk into a room people feel better because they walked into the room.”  

To build an Investment Grade PracticeTM, you need to be comfortable with who you are. People often talk about getting dental practice owners out of their comfort zone, but today I want to invite you to own your comfort zone. 

In my interview with Dr. Bruce B. Baird, he talk a lot about comfort. The more you understand and clarify your value the more you show up with ease. Get comfortable with who you are, what your values are, and then align everything else around that. Today, I’m talking more about how getting comfortable with yourself affects how you craft an Investment Grade PracticeTM and:

  • The decisions you make
  • How your team reacts
  • How you show up in all your interactions


It’s always a pleasure spending time with my partner, Dr. Baird. And if you haven’t met him yet, you probably are already getting a sense that he’s just a really great guy. And in dentistry, I think it’s a unicorn. He is a diplomat and the icoi. He is one of the top educators in the nation clinically. But he’s also a very savvy business person. And balancing both business and clinical effort is an art form that I think Bruce has elevated to the highest levels.

Here’s what I took away from that conversation. Everywhere you go, you hear people say, get out, get outside of your comfort zone, outside of your comfort zone. That’s where the growth is. That’s where the excitement in life is. And I don’t disagree with that. However, today, I want to invite you to get in your comfort zone. Get comfortable, you heard Bruce say that word a lot. Get comfortable having crucial conversations, stop comparing yourself to other people get comfortable, I guess in your own skin, get comfortable about who you are, what your values are, and then align everything in your world around that any case, some real great examples.

So for example, if your value is high tech, high touch, I really value having the latest innovations available for my patients. What Bruce is really saying and that value of high tech, high touch is I value learning, I value progress. I value, staying up to date and current. So I can deliver the most current technology and techniques to my patients. So he’s really valuing progress that informs you on what technologies Am I going to purchase he purchases technology at a higher rate than someone that doesn’t have that as part of their value thread. And he’s comfortable with that he’s comfortable spending money on that. And he’s developed a way of valuing is this piece of technology correct. For my practice, you probably heard that as well.

I had a lot of a lot of equipment that ended up in the boneyard in the attic. So that’s the next thing. I’d love for you to get comfortable and get comfortable saying no, no, this is not the right technology for my practice today. No, I will not implement this until I know I have team support and I can and I can train them to use it. No, I will not let this sit in the corner team we are going to be trained on this. So knowing your core values and getting comfortable. Being in your comfort zone is different than being afraid and not trying anything new. Can you hear the difference there? The more you understand and clarify your value, the more value you can bring. Because you’re very comfortable having those Crucial Conversations. This fits this doesn’t. This is correct for me in my practice today. This is not correct for me in my practice today.

It’s not a right or wrong conversation. Everyone gets to have their values. Most of the time. We’re not living in our value. So we’re running out of fear. We’re running out of panic. The world around us the digital age that we’re in the pace that we’re in, has really turned on our splenic centers that is turned on our amygdala, our fight or flight, panic, anxiety, freeze states. So get comfortable, being relaxed, get comfortable working from a place of ease.

I have had the pleasure of being surrounded by world leaders since my early 20s. I can remember the president of Coca Cola back in 1984 came to my house and Robert Keogh. Just a gracious gentlemen, and I thought here is a gentleman who is in charge of Coca Cola globally, every franchise, every bottler, all the marketing, all the advertising, all the storms that was back when new coke was coming out and boy oh boy was that just a colossal mess. And this gentleman was so poised, so polished, so at ease in his own skin. And in my mind in my early 20s, a paradigm locked in, the higher you go on the leadership ladder, the less stressed you are.

Now I know that’s not true. But I know that great leaders demonstrate ease. When they walk in the room, people feel better, because they walked in the room. Having these “o shit” moments when natural walks in the room is not good for your team. If you can be clear about who you are, you can be clear about the roles and the expectations. And you can bring ease to the situation what you’re actually doing as a leader is down regulating that fight or flight. Since it’s down regulating, the adrenaline is down regulating the cortisol within your teammates.

Here’s the big benefit. It down regulates the drama, less drama, less resistance, the faster the easier, the smoother your day goes. And Bruce was really pointing to that, you know, his advice was learn everything you can about leadership, building relationships, body language, communication, Neuro Linguistic neurolinguistics, everything that you can get your hand on, because at the heart of leadership is communication. That communication starts with your core beliefs, your values, what you tell yourself, about other people.

And if you’ve been around PDA for very long, you’ve heard a lot of Bruce’s stories and he tells the story. So frowny smiley face frowny face. And he said, What is this? And they said, Oh, well, you’re going to have to go talk to Emily to go to the office manager. Emily, what’s his smiling face frowny face I see. And she goes, Oh, are you just now seeing them? He goes, Yeah, how long has that been there? Oh, three years? or What is it? She goes, Well, every day when you walk in, we judge what kind of mood you’re in. So I put up a frowny face or a smiling face. And the team knows whether it’s going to be a good day, or if they should duck and run. And he’s like, Really? That’s me. You see, as a leader we don’t often see or feel the impact we have on others. And it really is a gift when your team can reflect back to you. Yeah, you’re kind of a butthead today. And it’s bringing people down.

So what an interesting concept that to build an Investment Grade PracticeTM, you got to get in your comfort zone. You have to get clarity within yourself about who I am, what I’m building and where I’m going, then you’re not pulled off track. And you can give permission for others to get comfortable. Hear me well. I’m not saying lazy. I’m not saying unaccountable. I’m not saying uncreative or unimaginably imaginative or innovative. Those are different words. So don’t confuse being comfortable in your own skin, with being locked in your comfort zone and never changing to very different things. I want to thank Dr. Baird for being my partner 17 years of leading the way in dentistry on what an investment grade practice looks like. And for this incredible interview, I learned a lot.

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