Lessons on the Path to Finding Your Purpose

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When I slow down and reflect, it’s pretty unbelievable to see the direction my life and dental consulting business have taken, and how everything has unfolded. There were so many hurdles that at the time it was hard to see I was already on a path to finding my purpose and passion in dentistry. 

I never thought that the decision to go to dental assisting school so many years ago would lead me to become a transformational leadership coach for dentists and business owners. I’m almost overwhelmed with gratitude for the lessons I learned along the way.

My teachers said I was an underperforming student. I was struggling in all areas and everyone else knew what they wanted to do in life, but I didn’t. Let’s just say my parents were concerned. The more time that passed, the more pressure I felt from my parents to find my path. So, with little thought, I had decided to be a dental assistant.

This unplanned leap was truly the start of what would put me on the path for my biggest personal growth and development and on my journey to where I am now in the dental industry.

Not quite right

After graduating from dental assisting school, I got my first job in a dental practice and soon realized that even though I was trying really hard at being a dental assistant, I wasn’t wired to be good at it (think shutting down the practice because I sucked a cotton roll down the high-volume suction or me dozing off during procedures because of boredom).

One day my boss came to me and gave me what I thought at the time was devastating news. She wanted to move me to the front desk. The negative story in my head was racing, but I was determined to learn this new position as part of the dental business team. Before long, I realized I was very good at it because the multitasking and big picture thinking that were required in my new role really tapped into some of my natural abilities that I didn’t realize I had.

Little did I know, this was one of many gifts along the way that put me on the path to where I am today. What I had thought at the time was a failure, had really been a victory.

The Lesson:

Where you start is just that, a starting point … a door that leads you to something greater. 

Shortly after moving to the front, I had my first experience working with a dental consultant and my mind was instantly blown. I didn’t realize how big of an impact I – one person who wasn’t even twenty, sitting at the front desk – could make on the success of the dental practice. It really opened my eyes to a new way of seeing things and I immediately knew that I wanted to have that the same type of an impact on practices that the consultant had on me.

The Lesson:

When you’re moved by someone else and inspired by how they’re making an impact, there’s something inside of you that’s similar or you wouldn’t be drawn to it. Look up the ladder in your career and say, “Who inspires me?” Tune into that inner voice and follow your desire and inspiration, even if it feels like it’s out of reach.

My journey continued and I worked in a couple more dental practices before I started my career as a dental consultant.

In one of the dental practices I worked in, I’d mastered so much that I was the office manager and responsible for overseeing the practice, team members and profitability. Even though I was at what I thought was a peak in my dental career, I knew I was maxed out in terms of income. It seemed like the next logical step for my growth was to look into dental hygiene school. At that time, I had two little boys and I decided that it was what I needed to do to provide for my family.

When I shared with my boss my thoughts about going to hygiene school, he said, “Kristin, if you want to earn more money, you should pursue dental consulting, not dental hygiene. Your gift is with strategy, business and leadership in dental practices and you would really thrive with that.” I immediately had this inner knowing and it took me all the way back to that moment I looked at the consultant and felt energized for the first time. 

The Lesson:

When you want to grow, your purpose has to be bigger than making money. It’s so much more about lining up with your gifts and unique abilities, than making financial gains. The abundance will come. 

Now I had to get clear on what I wanted to bring into the world and how to share my gifts in the dental industry.

The last practice I worked in before starting my dental consulting business, I finally found my stride and was confident in my ability to move a practice forward. I helped this practice achieve tremendous growth and when I had my review meeting, I just knew I was going to get a raise and I was devastated to learn it was off the table because I put my heart and soul into the practice.

In that moment, I made the decision that I was going to start my own dental consulting business and a year later when that same doctor hired me to be a consultant in his practice, I knew the universe was giving me confirmation.

The Lesson:

Sometimes the biggest letdowns or disappointments are what put you on the path to something wonderful. You can choose to focus on the disappointment or you can choose to focus on finding what that something wonderful is.

Making the decision to start my business was actually the easiest part. I had absolutely no idea how to run a business or even be a dental consultant. I was walking down a path that I only knew the very next step of and had no idea what the final destination would be.

The only way I could describe the fear I experienced was that it was completely terrifying. Who was I, anyway? I certainly didn’t feel like an expert. I was an underperforming student. A failed dental assistant who sucked up a cotton roll and fell asleep during procedures. An office manager who couldn’t get a raise even with her best performance.

I had to get comfortable with sitting in that fear. 

I love this quote by Tory Burch, “If it doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.” 

Oh, I was scared, so I must have been on the right path!

Even with fear in the passenger’s seat, for the first time in my life, I began to experience the feeling of being in alignment and using my gifts to make an impact in the world. Now that I know that feeling, there’s no turning back. 

It took about a year to get traction and work through the roller coaster of unknowns that come with starting any new business, but then I started to see my clients experiencing results and success. I had been so focused on looking like a dental consultant that part of me was surprised the see their growth. As good as that felt, my inner knowing crept back in … Am I really making an impact in a way that aligns with my purpose and passion?

Something was missing.

I started to really understand the missing link in the dental industry for leadership and personal development to play strong roles. I wanted to leave a practice knowing the doctor was equipped with the leadership required to ultimately be the one to make it a success and line it up with their vision (something bigger than making money).

Ultimately my purpose is to help people. It wasn’t the dental systems. It was the doctor’s leadership, personal growth, and development that would help them create the vision and practice they truly desired. Once the foundation was solid, then the systems (and everything else) would fall into place. The very best part of it was seeing the ripple effect and how it carried the growth into their personal lives, as well.

It’s funny how when you look back, everything makes sense and all the dots are connected. When you’re in it, though, it’s uncomfortable and feels like nothing makes sense. That’s where trust and the desire to use your gifts come in. When you line them up, doors open to put you on the path to the best expression of your soul’s purpose.

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