Must get the perfect case. Must get perfect Class I with perfect occlusion and perfect symmetry and in fewest appointments in least amount of time in chair with lowest overhead and fewest staff who are maximized to fullest absolute potential with ZERO errors, zero complaints, zero problems of any sort.
It’s a mental game sometimes played by orthodontists trying to squeeze everything possible out of every case and every person around.
As orthodontists, we are trained to present cases to colleagues and only talk about what is wrong. We are trained to only look for what is wrong with a case and what is abnormal. In consult we talk about what’s wrong with the patient and how far off they are from ideal. Our team meetings we talk about everything that is wrong and needs to change. The majority of the time when we speak individually to team members we tell them what they are doing wrong. All because we have been trained to make things perfect.
We believe that our perfectionism is an enviable professional quality that anyone who is anyone should have.
We call ourselves perfectionists. But really we aren’t perfectionists we are IMPERFECTIONISTS. We aren’t looking for what is perfect! We only look for what is imperfect. And it is miserable. (shout out to Dino Watt for helping me realize this)
As a recovering (and often relapsing) perfectionist I can speak that such a focus affects every area of our life. Every relationship at work and at home. We may even be hypercritical of others as we project our own thoughts and insecurities on those we love because they aren’t doing it as perfect as we think in our mind.
Our eye is constantly looking for the imperfect and wrong with everything around us and it can create an insatiable appetite to always achieving what is next- the next “perfect” milestone we have set for ourselves; the next trip, house, boat, office, car. We get so focused on the future perfect result and we fail to enjoy the present. And it is never enough. We still aren’t happy. We don’t enjoy the journey because perfection is always just out of reach in our minds. And since the state of perfection is unattainable in this life, we are never quite happy so we continue to compare and despair away our lives to others.
I’d ask you to recognize if you have an imperfectionist focus and to wake up and be present with your thoughts. Think about what you think about. Approach things from what is great with the situation and what can we help improve. Ask yourself how can you be of service to another? How can you begin to treat people as people around you? They to have hopes and dreams and desires too! Look for what your team members do well and what are areas they could improve? Inspire them and help them see what they could become for their own sake and in service to others. Show them the impact they could have on the lives of those they serve. Look for the good. Measure the progress and enjoy the journey.
With a hyper-focus on efficiency and being perfect let us not forget that our patients want to be treated as a person too. Not just a set of crooked teeth being treated with braces or aligners. Losing the customer service side by not loving on people and caring about them and their life is the fastest way to commoditize our services. Yes we treat teeth but first we must care for and serve people.
I have a few more posts on the subject and I look forward to sharing some positive steps I’ve taken and also mistakes I’ve made along the way as I’ve tried to lose my imperfectionistic view and enjoy the journey. I’d love to continue the discussion in the comments below.