EP 103: Humility vs. Overconfidence: The Willingness to Rethink Your Position and Pivot

In this episode of the Double Your Production podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs are diving into Adam Grant’s new book, Think Again. They are unpacking some of the key insights from the book and talking through how these ideas apply to dental practice owners and teams.

The business environment is always changing, so every practice owner needs to have a certain level of flexibility in their thinking and a willingness to pivot. This adaptability can impact team management, patient communication, and overall practice success.

This episode kicks off a new series within the podcast. Each quarter, we choose a book that can create meaningful change in your dental practice and talk through some of the key ideas and learnings. We do this with our highest-level clients and we want to bring a bit of that book club to our broader dental community. We hope you read along with us each quarter and join us in continuing to grow personally and professionally.

In the episode, Dr. John and Wendy mention the upcoming Summit Launch Party! Click here to register to join us for a chance to win tickets to the 2023 Summit, Disney World passes, and more!

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Voiceover:
Welcome to The Double Your Production Podcast with the Team Training Institute, the one place designed for dentists and their staff who want to grow their practices by following in the footsteps of those that have done it, who are in the trenches, who know exactly what you're going through. And now your leaders, the stars of the podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs.
Dr. John Meis:
Hey, everybody, welcome to this episode of The Double Your Production Podcast. I'm Dr. John Meis here with my partner Wendy Briggs. Hey, Wendy, how you doing?
Wendy Briggs:
I'm great, Dr. John. How are you?
Dr. John Meis:
Fantastic. I'm excited about this topic because it's something that we talk about a lot and with what's going on in the country and the world today, it's a really, really timely topic. Really we want to talk about some of the ideas from Adam Grant's new book, Think Again. It's a really great book and it really illustrates some of the things that we've been demonstrating and teaching to our clients for a long time. He's such a good writer. He just puts ideas onto paper so well.
Wendy Briggs:
He sure does.
Dr. John Meis:
What were some of the things from the book that you brought out that really resonated with you?
Wendy Briggs:
Well, there's so many good gems, even in just the first chapter. I had a highlighter, and I'm a highlighter and a note taker. I write all throughout books as I read them. I can tell you, even just in the first 25 pages, I think I used an entire highlighter. I ran out of ink because there were so many things I wanted to highlight. I think probably the thing that stands out to me the most is the humility cycle that he talks about. I think this is a very, very common thing that we see in human beings, but also in dentists and their teams, the fact that we think we know everything. When we think we know everything there is to know, that's when we can stumble.
We're seeing a lot of that happening in society right now, not just in dentistry. He talks about humility cycle and overconfidence cycle, as well as the importance of being willing to be able to pivot quickly. He shares some really, really great analogies, some of which we'll talk about here today, but I think have valuable lessons for our listeners. Now, one of the things that's interesting about this book is many people that are listening to podcasts may not know, our highest levels get a popcorn pouch every quarter and we choose an inspirational, influential, impactful book to send to them. We use this book several times throughout the next three months.
This was the book we chose. For those that aren't current members, this is such a powerful book that we actually sent it to all of our highest level members.
Dr. John Meis:
The popcorn boxes are fun. They're filled usually with popcorn, some kind of little toy, a book, some ideas. They're just a fun thing that our high level clients get. In dealing with a lot of advisors to dentists, so this would be attorneys and accountants and finance professionals, they have a way of thinking about us as a profession in that they joke among themselves about us. The joke is this, that we know a lot about the one topic, dentistry, and we tend to think we know a lot about everything because we know a lot about one topic. They all joke about that.
But I think it's really good for us to know that that is kind of our reputation in the world of advisors around us. I think one of the things about this book that I really liked was the focus on curiosity. That what you are most sure about, you also have to be most curious about, because you may be 100% certain and 100% wrong. There's a lot of stories in the book. Wendy, you've got a couple that you want to share that really illustrate that.
Wendy Briggs:
I think, again, we talk about the overthinking cycle and being prideful and seeking validation. We end up in echo chambers. We tend to surround ourselves with other people that validate our beliefs or our positions. I find that to be very, very common in dentistry and certainly in society right now. People find themselves in an echo chamber of other people that will support their bias or their opinion or their belief. And therefore, we end up with a society of really segmented groups. I see that happening in dentistry where we've got people that have this overconfidence in maybe doing something the way they've always done it.
What that can lead to is really a stumble when they realize, oh gosh, people actually may not want things done that way anymore. We see a lot of things like that. One of the stories that stood out to me that was really quite sad was there was a wildfire, I think it was called the Gulch Wildfire. It was a terrible event that happened. As usual for forest mountain wildfires, they had smoke jumpers that jumped out of a plane to fight this fire and trying to cut it off. There was an overthinking cycle that happened in the midst of this fire, and these people found themselves in harm's way.
In the book, he talked about how for many of these smoke jumpers, it was drilled into their head that their equipment is precious, their equipment will save their lives, and so they don't want to drop their equipment or lose their equipment at all. Well, as it turned out, in this fire, as things got bad and went from bad to worse, they had to try and outrun the fire. Only one person made it out alive. It was a horribly tragic event. When they looked backwards at what they could learn from it, they realized that that training of not losing your equipment, not dropping your saw and all of the axes and all of those things that they used to fight the fire, actually cost many people their lives.
The one gentleman who made it out was able to pivot and rethink and realized that this equipment is weighing me down. And if I don't drop it, I'm not going to make it out. That's really what saved him was his ability to rethink and pivot in the moment. I find that there's some really great analogies to that. Thankfully, in dentistry, we aren't often in life or death situations like that, but we do have dentists that approach us that are really in a struggle and going downhill fast. Sometimes what's necessary is they've got to drop that overconfidence and become curious and become humble and be willing to rethink doing things the way they've always done them.
I think that can be really, really difficult and challenging for us as professionals because as human beings, we like to be comfortable. We like to do what we've always done.
Dr. John Meis:
A great example of what's happening in dentistry right now, when we talk to practices, they pretty much all will tell us that one of their major challenges is last minute cancels and fails. I think since COVID, it's worse. It was getting worse already, but I think since COVID it's worse. I think people are trying to change their patient's behavior in various ways by kind of spanking the patient if they don't show up for an appointment. But the reality is, nope, society's changed.
It's time to pivot. There are other ways to deal with the fact that cancels and fails are higher. We teach several strategies on how to do that. It's a good example of people want to keep doing exactly what they're doing, even though the world around them has changed.
Wendy Briggs:
Right. We talk about strategic thinking versus tactical thinking. I think sometimes what happens is we get so zeroed in on tactics, the tactics that we've done forever, that we lose sight of our strategic thinking. We don't understand that we need to take a step back and rethink. We hear from our teams. The teams often don't want to come along. They often say, "That's the way we've always done it, or that's not what my experience has shown." He talks about the ignorance of arrogance a lot in this book, and I think that's so true. We find ourselves surrounded by those echo chambers that support our belief, that support our opinion, that want to blame the patient, patients are losers or patients are horrible.
What we really need is to evaluate our systems. One thing that's really great about that specific example, Dr. John, is how much has changed in recent years and how many, I guess, unique technologies are readily available that can help us pivot and be far more successful in this category alone. But I would say that applies to dentistry as a whole, that we do have opportunities and companies that are being very innovative and exploring technologies that can help us be more successful in spite of today's challenges.
Dr. John Meis:
Being open to what are new and different ideas and being able to hold in your mind two things, one, the standard, because if you have a standard that's working well, you don't want to lose that, but at the same time, evaluating new technologies, new techniques, new philosophies, because what did may not work in the future or may not work as well as something else that's available right now.
Wendy Briggs:
One thing that he says is he says a lot of companies that have a downfall or that fail, we could list a whole bunch of them, Polaroid, Kodak, Blackberry, all of these companies, Blockbuster, failed to adapt to the market. He said adapting to a changing environment is something a company does. It's something people do in the multiple decisions they make every day. Recognizing that the company, you can't choose to adapt. You can't make a decision that we're going to adapt. It's your people that actually have to carry that through in the decisions that they're making every single day on how they're going to operate at a higher level, how they're going to overcome the changing environment.
What are we going to do differently day in and day out? I think that's really a telling comment is that the company can't necessarily make the decision. The people have to every single day. Part of the book is how we create an environment where people can rethink. We make it part of our culture that we want them to rethink. Steve Jobs also had a great comment that he quoted that is, "We don't hire people and tell them what to do, we hire people and have them tell us what to do." When I look at dentistry as a whole, that's the last thing we do. We hire our people. We onboard.
We tell them exactly how we want things done, and we rarely have an opportunity to say, "Hey, what new ideas do you have? Or is there anything that you think we should do differently or better?" I think sometimes it's funny because we often hear from team members that are annoyed that the new hire wants to tell them how they always did it at their other practice. It becomes almost the antithesis of what we build in dentistry.
Dr. John Meis:
I always tell new employees that learn our systems, and once you learn them, help us make them better. Kind of in that order. Otherwise, new people can bring a lot of chaos. But if we're not open to their ideas, their suggestions and to them helping us get better, then we can be stagnant. You and I have seen it so many times, Wendy, when the whole team is screaming, "What we're doing is really stupid and we're driving away patients and we don't even know that we're doing it, or the doctor doesn't know that we're doing it," and the doctor says, "No, this is the way I was taught. I went to this institute. They said to do it exactly this way."
They blindly follow that. Having the openness and the curiosity to think about the things that you don't know and know that there's a lot more things that you don't know that you don't know you don't know. You have to really be curious.
Wendy Briggs:
I think part of our success within the Team Training Institute is helping providers cultivate that in their patients and helping the patients understand that there may be more to their dental health than they even know, causing the patient to rethink what they've always done and doing things differently, which is why we teach a process for risk assessment, which is why we have tools that we help empower hygienists with to have vital conversations. Let's talk about the pH in your oral environment. Let's talk about some of your habits. Let's talk about doing something differently in the future so that we can have a better future than what we've struggled with in the past.
I think that's why I think this book resonated so well with us is because we see it such a necessary tool for many in dentistry to have today, not simply for their own perspective, but to help cultivate and guide that level of humility and curiosity in our patients. That's often something that could be really challenging at first if you don't follow a proven system to help patients understand that there could be more for them, for their health if they're willing to do something different.
Dr. John Meis:
The tricks that we teach in our retreats and our case acceptance course, we have that coming up here in a couple of weeks. It's sold out again this year. It always is. Part of that is creating that curiosity in the patient and doing that with risk assessments, with charts, with making their problems visual, now using artificial intelligence to point things out and to grab the patient's attention. It's really an exciting time in dentistry right now.
Wendy Briggs:
It is. I think even though we hear from practices and doctors who are stressed, there's a lot of things that they're worried about. I saw a recent study survey done and they said, "Okay, what are the top concerns that you have?" Of course, rising costs were right up there. Reduction of insurance reimbursement rates were right up there. Dental industry changing, so the corporate takeover and DSOs. It's fascinating. Really, Dr. John, these are things that five years ago, dentists were concerned about the same exact things. It's like this cycle that doesn't ever quite go away. What I love about the dentist that we work with is their willingness to think again and adapt and to pivot.
The fact that even though these are very common concerns, they don't allow it to be an excuse or a reason for why their practice isn't performing at the level that they think it could be. Instead of I guess using that as an excuse, they're using it as fuel to empower themselves and their teams to figure out, okay, what do we need to do differently? How can we pivot? How can we serve our patients at a higher level in spite of rising costs and inflation and concerns that way? As you mentioned, at our case acceptance course, we have doctors go back and implement what they learn and have a 40% bump in spite of rising costs and all of these things.
We did one during COVID and we still saw an increase. I think that that's just proof that being willing to be humble and pivot and work through some of the fears, not allow the fears to hold you back is what many of us in our profession actually need.
Dr. John Meis:
Yeah, I couldn't agree more. It's a really critical time right now because there's so many distractions from patient care and from having great patient experiences. You mentioned several of them, but we could make a long list. We're just before the election now and so much noise around that and the stock market's variability and had the best October ever, but still people have the sense that it's doom and gloom and interest rates are high. We can go on and on and on about all these things. But because there's changes in the world around us, we have to adapt, we have to be open, we have to be curious, and we have to lead others in that same thing.
Wendy Briggs:
Before we're done today, Dr. John, it's been a great conversation, great content. Again, we can't recommend enough the book Think Again by Adam Grant. A lot of really great gems in there. But we also have some exciting announcements of our own. We have something that we've never done before and we are going to be having a summit launch party coming up soon. Watch for that. Why don't we do this on our homepage? We'll go ahead and put in the show notes a link so you can get information about our summit, as well as the launch party. We will be making some really exciting announcements about our Summit 2023.
It's going to be the end of April, and we are holding this amazing summit in Orlando. One of the things that we're going to be doing in Orlando is helping practices unlock the magic. That's our theme for this year. That's an exciting announcement. Watch for that information. Again, if you're looking for inspiration on how to handle things in your practice at a different level, there's no better place to go than the summit for that type of focus and inspiration and rethinking. All of our speakers really will bring an incredible amount of energy and solutions to common frustrations and challenges in dentistry.
Dr. John Meis:
It's going to be an awesome event as it is every year. This one I think will be even more special and just a little bit more magic.
Wendy Briggs:
And to find out why, join us for that launch party. It's going to be great.
Dr. John Meis:
There you go. All right, well, thanks, Wendy. Thanks, everybody, for being on this episode of The Double Your Production Podcast. We'll see you on the next one.
Wendy Briggs:
Thanks, everybody.

Resources:

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