A dentist I know throws instruments at his assistant when she does something wrong. She passes him the cotton pliers incorrectly, he grabs them and tosses them, often at her, and they end up making a sound on the floor when they hit. The sound is like no other sound, though. It’s combined, amplified somehow by his irritation, her weakness, and the patient’s shock at witnessing what just happened. And for those of us who don’t throw instruments, let’s not jump ahead and pat ourselves on the back because, though maybe to a lesser extent, we are still so often too arrogant and let our ego dictate our behaviour, which in the long-term, deters us from building a better business.

I went through phases where I felt like I could do no wrong. Everything was going great, patients were accepting treatment, staff was doing what they were supposed to, so yep, I was on top of the world. And feeling very very proud to be there. Proud of myself, proud at myself, and proud in myself. But too much pride swells you and blinds you. It gives you goggles so you can’t quite see anything past yourself. So you begin to only treatment plan based on your own ego rather than what’s right for the patient, and you blame others quickly when something you didn’t do resulted in a fall-out or problem. Arrogance can lead you to make mistakes. It can lead you to ignore the weak, become easily irritated at situations where you should be spending more time teaching or training, and it can make you dismiss certain patients, who show no interest in what it is you want to do to them, and this can turn around and bite you in your a$$.

I got arrogant, too. Things were going too well and too fast and so I blew off certain patients, dismissed them or rushed through their exam or consultation so I could move on and get on the thing wanted to do. But fate is a funny beast. It can teach you things you really need to learn in the most challenging twisty ways. So when I got a letter from one of the dismissed souls, then a complaint by another, it took me down a funnel of challenges and emotions that I did not like to deal with. Fear, anger, blame, shame, guilt, and finally. I opened my mind, and my eyes to the person staring back at me in the mirror.

Who do you think you are? I say to me. You’ve been acting like a double for the last few months and everyone can see it. You don’t invest time in anyone now unless they have something immediate to bring you. But some of these patients, and some of the people around you, they need time, and they need your full attention, and they need you to explain to them what it is that’s going on EVEN IF you believe they won’t do anything about it. They deserve your knowledge. They deserve your time. They came to you and keep coming to you, instead of going elsewhere, so take the stick out of your a$$ and give them that attention and that knowledge. Treat them as if they are the most important person ever to come in to your office. Not you. They are.

Sometimes we don’t see our own arrogance. I got lucky when fate intervened so fast. But we all know some people who live in their own ego, and act as if their it is better than everyone else’s, and no matter how high you fly, the fall back to earth is freaking painful. Look in the mirror. Do you really like what you see?