Carry More Tools.

Carry More Tools.

You’ve probably heard me repeat the following proverb many times: “To a man with only a hammer, every problem tends to look pretty much like a nail.”

Unfortunately, orthodontics is a narrow professional doctrine and liable to suffer from man-with-hammer thinking. I’ve witnessed this in my own practices and in those of the orthodontists I coach.

The most-successful orthodontists study broadly outside our own narrow doctrine. It’s one of many reasons I went on to get my MBA and have condensed and distilled the most critical lessons for my clients in a seven-week program called The Ortho MBA™.

There are two reasons why doctors don’t study the big, useful concepts from other disciplines:

  1. They don’t think they have the time.
  2. They have a perceived need to stay within the narrow discipline, studying more and more orthodontics.

If the only problems and challenges in your practice are orthodontic in nature, then by all means, carry one tool. Hammer it out. However, if you desire to solve broadscale problems that require synthesis and collaboration between the disciplines of psychology, accounting, leadership, law and marketing, you really have no excuse. You must exit the narrow doctrine.

Your education and knowledge must be wide enough to cover practically everything useful in running a successful practice, not just that which is required to be a successful tooth- straightener.

You must be able to think forward and in reverse… so that you can focus not only on your goals and objectives (i.e., what you want to happen) but also when to avoid problems (i.e., the things you don’t want to happen).

You must operate with a handful of simple but powerful litmus tests or checklists so that your mind is trained to run through many scenarios and observe current events in the economy and within your own market as either related or unrelated to causes in many disciplines.

You must hone your skills and knowledge, ever-sharpening your ability to avoid stalls in growth and atrophy in your enthusiasm, curiosity and dedication to making big things happen.

In your quest to solve bigger problems and achieve sustainable growth, take solemn account of your tool bag. What is missing? What needs added and what should be removed?

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.