Would you believe me if I said having 5 boys, a busy pediatric dental practice, and a wife pregnant with twins, was not stressful? Neither would I, in fact this year has been one of my most stressful years to date. Last week was the culmination of, what I like to call, the first wave of the “perfect storm.”
I believe in that movie from 2000, it was the storm of the century, the perfect mix of three different storm systems coming together at once. The result was this massive storm that demolished the Andrea Gail and all of its crew, swallowing them in the black abyss of the north Atlantic ocean.
So unlike the movie, we don’t plan on losing any crew(staff), or enduring any harsh conditions(the storm), or not surviving this patch of stress to fight another day. I think sometimes in life it is necessary to make a sacrifice, face some significant challenges, lose some sleep, and get away from what is comfortable in order to set yourself up for success. Just to clarify, success is not measured by the size of ones house, or the type of cars driven, or the zeros behind your bank account, it is internal happiness and mental satisfaction with what YOUR situation may be. I believe a sanitation worker can be just as “successful” as a neurosurgeon, it just depends on what drives you to happiness. We all have big dreams, but those are only realized by hard work, sacrifice, and the one thing no one likes to be exposed to, RISK.
Yes, it is risky to merge this other practice into the wonderful thing that we have going. I remember the evening we went to dinner with this “other” doctor and his wife, knowing he was contemplating retirement, and anticipating him approaching us to buy his practice. The days leading up to this “date” I was giddy with excitement and flattery. This is a man we both admired and respected, he taught us pediatric dentistry in school and is someone really well looked at in the community for his skill. To say the least this was going to be a humbling discussion at dinner to have your mentor ask you to buy the practice he built up. As dinner progressed through courses there was not one mention of the impending retirement. We finished the main course and were approached about dessert, which we all wanted. Then I looked up and his wife gave him this look of, “get on with it already”. He then proceeded to ask us the thing we anticipated would happen this night and I vividly remembered my butterflies. Here was my mentor telling us he thought we would take the same care of his patients that he has over the decades of practice. Wow, what a feeling, but then, fast forward to today, and the reality has set in, this is going to be busy and the purchase happened this past Wednesday, what timing!
The thing we have focused on most of all in our practice is customer service, and providing an unparalleled experience, both for the kiddo and the parent. Our daily goal for each person that graces our doors is to make them feel like they were the only family there. So logically, we added staff from the other office and now we have to train all of them to buy into our vision and goals of customer service. Teaching them to not tell people where the bathroom is, but walk them there, ask the parents if they would like coffee or a magazine, little things that make this different from any other office. It is a little stressful to get people to look through your eyes and envision what your practice should feel like.
Then there is the construction of remodeling this practice to feel like us. Our practice is 45 years old, obviously we bought from previous owner, and was in need of a facelift. For those of you that have remodeled or built a house, you know how painstakingly slow and frustrating it can be. There are delays, inspections, delays, material problems, delays, and worst of all, things you just didn’t think about and they always happen mid project, did I mention delays? It is a complete mess right now and a little, umm, stressful. It will be amazing once it is done, if we survive the process. I didn’t even mention that my super woman is on bed rest and I have to make all the decisions, which as most dads can attest will not alway be the “right” decisions! They will not all be bad decision or the wrong decision, but it all leads to more stress.
Then the biggest thing in our lives we have going, the twinkies! She is now 36 weeks! This some magic number for twins to, hopefully, stay out of the NICU. She can go into labor now and we can be pretty sure these boys will be going home with mom and dad and meeting their 5 brothers. Wait, did I just say 5 brothers(gulp). Thats right, there are 5 other boys with practices and homework and baths, and breakfasts, and dinners, and cub scouts, and……the list goes on and the stress mounts. I feel like that UPS commercial, I need logistics! By most accounts I am a laid back, calm, take things as they come, kind of guy, but even I am a little overwhelmed. Now things will work out and be fine, but the journey will be interesting. The one reason I love this family is we are a team. Nothing will defeat us and we will persevere.
Although stress is tough, and takes a lot out of your spirit sometimes, just eat it for breakfast and take a look around you. We all have it pretty darn good and things could always be worse. I have lived a few lives and each one is much different from the next. The best thing about that is I keep improving from one to the next and this will be no different. There was a great quote I saw from a man who endured insurmountable stress, Gandhi, and he said “Live as if you were to die tomorrow, Learn as if you were to live forever.” #carpediem