All between the ears

July 1, 2004
Here is your exercise for the day. Stand up tall and place your pointer fingers on both sides of your head. Now ponder this. You are never more than six inches away from whatever you want to do.

by Janet Hagerman

Here is your exercise for the day. Stand up tall and place your pointer fingers on both sides of your head. Now ponder this. You are never more than six inches away from whatever you want to do. Those six inches are right between your fingers, inside your head! This seemingly simplistic strategy holds the key to your success, because it is how we talk to ourselves and what we formulate in our minds that direct our daily lives, and ultimately our longtime goals and dreams.

According to Peter Drucker, a best-selling business author, "The best way to predict the future is to create it!" This is an exciting way to live.

Start on a daily basis. Determine what your day will be like before you start it. Imagine it, visualize it, and implement it.

Shakti Gawain's book, Creative Visualization, tells us that the power of your imagination creates what you want in life. The three things necessary to do this are desire, belief, and acceptance. First, you must have a true desire to create what you want with a strong, clear sense of purpose. Second, you must believe in your goal and the possibility of achieving it. Many people are quick to dismiss the possibility of achieving outstanding success in their lives. Remember that what the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve! Third, you must be willing to accept what you want. Don't get hung up on the drama of not having what you want. Instead, stay focused on your goal.

How does this apply to the daily life of a hygienist? I often ask the hygienists I coach to write down their "perfect" schedule. It's amazing how much resistance I get with this request. I also hear every reason in the world why this could not materialize. However, mentally creating the ideal day is the imperative first step to making it happen.

My good friend and business associate, Donna, is a master at this. As our corporate trainer, Donna's job is to help hygienists increase their standard of care and leverage the schedule to become more productive. Donna typically has only one day to prove to the team that this can be done. It is not unusual for her to attend the morning huddle of an office that is slated for $500 to $600 worth of hygiene production for the day, then watch them finish the day with increased hygiene production of $1,000 to $1,500, and sometimes more!

I've asked Donna how she does this. She says it all starts with a mind shift and a mindset of success. "It all starts up here," she says as she points to her head. "I tell the hygienist how much production we will do that day. I create a number in my head." Some hygienists believe her, and some shake their heads in disbelief. The ones who buy into her mindset are the ones who succeed. Once she gets them on board with the desire and belief, they are open to Donna's strategies for schedule leveraging, optimizing treatment plans, and enhancing communication skills for treatment enrollment.

The truly awesome outcome to Donna's training is that the hygienists who embrace her way of thinking continue to maintain their new higher levels of production and patient care. Donna is an expert at creating a successful hygiene future, one day at a time.

Another key to success is maintaining a high level of positive energy, no matter what. Tony Robbins, the international self-help guru, is a master at teaching people how to change their state of mind. This means that you absolutely have the ability to change your emotional state at any time. You must desire — and believe in your ability — to control your mood swings. Learning this requires focusing on what you want in terms of communication and your emotional state. It's easy to be in a good mood when everything is going your way. Maintaining that positive energy when everything is falling down around you is the trait of a successful person.

It is important to surround yourself with happy people who have positive and productive attitudes. However, when you find yourself in the company of negative people, it is equally important to know how to overcome negativity, rise above it, and maintain positive energy no matter what your surroundings. Negativity makes a lot of noise and demands a lot of attention. Don't focus on it. Get rid of "stinkin' thinkin'!" Consciously choose your state of mind, and make it an empowering one. Only you can create your emotional future.

Here are seven strategies for maintaining your peak emotional state:

• Start the day with an attitude of gratitude and optimism.
• Resolve conflicts with questions about prevention and support rather than blame.
• Be of service to others.
• Praise those around you.
• Maintain a sense of humor.
• Be happy or act happy. Fake it 'til you make it.
• Smile!

Your mood is not determined by circumstances or the emotional states of those around you. Being angry, frustrated, and upset is an option. Being happy, interested, productive, and open-minded is also an option. You are what you decide to be! So start success where it counts, within those six inches of your mind.

Janet Hagerman, RDH, BS, is a speaker, writer, and the director of dental hygiene for Coast Dental. She can be reached at jhager [email protected].