You've been wondering what kind of transformations AMP can do, not only for your dental office and dental team, but for you personally. Hear it from someone who once stood where you are standing right now, Mark Thoreson talks about his experience with the AMP team! 


I know you. You're a dentist. You like things just so. You create systems and hire people that reflect your goals and vision. You attract patients that match your attitude. Your standards are high, right? How often do you take a vacation? Twice or thrice a year, I'd guess. Even the best team needs a break sometimes. There's stress in them there chairs! That awesome team of yours even gets on your case at times. Where do you go? Same old, same old: Junket to Vegas, hop to Hawaii, visit the 'outlaws'? Ever go somewhere you've never been, following someone you've just met – based on their grinning promise that your destination is the most awesome place ever, where the coolest people live and do the most amazing things? That requires risk. That's walking barefoot through a dark room carpeted with Legos. Stepping out of that comfy, easy little playpen you call a normal life. And do it by choice? Hmmm? Sounds nutty. What if you didn't ask for it? What if you were faced with choosing between this risk and what you know to be even more difficult and/or fearful? What if the suggestion was given to you by a stranger? A freakin' SALESMAN? Whoa. Shields UP, Mr. Sulu!

 

What if you know in your soul that it’s true but you’ve been afraid to look into that mirror for so long that you’re certain the risk is too big? What if your spouse has been griping about not getting that new house; or your CPA (genius) is harping like a fish wife that your retirement plan is wasting away on the skinny vine you call an income? How’s that College Fund for Junior and Juniorette? 

I’m a dentist, too.  I did exactly this a month ago.  Stupid mirrors.

Team AMP: Accelerate My Practice brings happiness to dentists by growing their practices and improving their lives – and those of their teams. They positively impact thousands of people every year.  AMP! founder Darren Kaberna leads us with his vision and commitment to his four-legged goal stool of changing the way dentistry views itself. AMP takes trips for team training and personal growth. Most companies would call it ‘team-building’ but Darren just says, “We’re going out to my cabin for a week. Bring warm clothes.” I live at sea-level near Seattle, and growing up in North Dakota, am no stranger to cold.  Darren’s cabin is at over 10,000 feet elevation. Interesting. But last September he led us up Mount Sherman, at 3am, in driving rain, pelting snow and wind, and the summit is over 14,000 feet.  I did that climb, so I was feeling OK about spending a week at 10,000 feet. I shouldn’t have been, ah, uppity. Living at elevation is different than a quick (death march) up a Fourteener. There are known symptoms of Altitude Sickness and I escaped most of them. But just turning over in bed made me gasp for breath more than once, and I had gas that would impress a Blue Whale. I managed to cover that quite well. [If I hadn’t, the AMP Team would have made their displeasure well-known. We’re that kind of team.  Awesome!] Gotta love the Great Outdoors, even at 9 degrees.  

Following Darren is an adventure, trust me.  This time was no exception.

 

  

We left our hotel in Colorado Springs in two rental cars. It’s pretty comfortable and familiar there in “The Springs”. So it was easy to get around and be comfortable.  We watched Darren do the Monday AMP! TV show and geared up at his house before we headed out for his cabin, in a little town called Fair Play.  It lies in an area known as South Park.  Messrs. Parker and Stone grew up there and their iconic TV show is based on that area. Cool. But it took over 2 hours to get there, and on the way we stopped for a scenic/frozen group selfie.

I drove Darren’s big pickup with supplies and gear. He drove an even bigger pickup with his camper on the back.  The rest of the team handled the rentals. We hauled across the Colorado landscape in high wind and recent snow. My radio signal faded in and out. I played ‘radio roulette’ hoping for something worth hearing, getting lucky a few times with The Pretenders, Billy Idol and 2/3 of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. I found out how loud the stereo can get on a Toyota Tundra. Not bad – made the change in the cup-holder buzz. I love the 80s!  But most of the trip was focused on following and keeping up.  I got a couple of photos. Here’s one on the road. Awesome scenery!

 

We arrived to a sloping, curved driveway filled with snow. Darren plowed it with a bladed Quad and all but one rental car made it up.  We unloaded and settled in for our week.  We trained hard for two days, then Darren produced waivers to sign.  As a 20-year Ski Patrol leader and Search and Rescue trainer, he knows his way around the elevated outdoor lifestyle.  We were going to learn to rappel.  (yikes) Off his roof. (Whale gas) Down 40 feet.  The point is to trust the gear and just go.  None of the AMP team had done it before. He rigged us up and we took turns climbing a nearly vertical ladder onto the roof and getting harnessed up, then backing toward the edge of his roof against a flawless blue sky with white knuckles under sweaty mitts and teammates shouting encouragement from below.  

My childhood story of getting stuck on the second-grader Monkey Bars, terrified to descend, (even though that was about 6 feet) was rippling through my thinly-oxygenated brain, because once I was up that ladder, I wasn’t about to turn around and back down where I couldn’t see my feet and the ladder really did move about 2 inches, which of course felt like I was about to become a Flying Wallenda. No Way In Green Bay (I’m a huge Minnesota Vikings Fan).  Commit, Doc! I went last. “I’m a big guy and that’s a pretty skinny rope, there, Boss.” He said, “Trust it. I won’t ever put you in a position that I haven’t been in. I gotcha. Back up. Feel the edge of the shingles under the balls of your feet.” I felt the skinny yellow rope stretch as I gave it a laser stare.  “Let your heels hang over first.” I let go of the rope and leaned back, like that ‘Nestea Plunge’ ad way back when.  No cetacean pneumatics. I stepped back and trusted – with hands back on the rope, but now in less than death-grip. 

 

 

Awesome. What a vibe – and I think I broke that kid-eating ladder of my childhood!

We all made the trip down, some slower than others – one of us nearly hyperventilated from fear (not me – I had no worries about excess physiologic gas levels by this point).  Now, 40 feet may seem to an adventurer like small potatoes, but to a bunch of flat-landers, this was plenty, thanks very much.  4 stories up in a building would allow me to see 8 miles in every direction where I grew up, and the tallest one around back then was only 3.  We all made snow angels at the bottom in celebration.  We celebrated further with a trip into Breckenridge for dinner.

We finished the week and caught our flights home, charged up for the Holidays and for a huge 2015. We DID IT!

Here’s the point of my story. Changing your life usually requires following someone with experience in changing lives.  It means trusting someone that you may not know well.  It means setting out on an adventure where you can’t stop in the middle and go home when you’re uncomfortable or afraid.  It certainly means leaving your comfort zones and putting up with some harsh conditions while you learn, even if that only means watching yourself and your team struggle and maybe bicker when they’re held accountable for this growth. It means taking risks – opening up your soul to danger.  It means taking direction from someone that always seems to be carrying a damn mirror. Doing things that scare the (biologic substances) out of you and celebrating when you succeed.  Do you really know what it is to celebrate? Has it been long enough since a celebration that you’ve forgotten how? 

If you hang in there and ride it out, you’ll find growth that changes your life.  Now look in that mirror.  It’s easy now, isn’t it? Do it again. Smile. Smile again. That’s really YOU in there. Remember that line from the end of the great film “City Slickers”? Billy Crystal points to his newfound grin and tells his wife “Look at what I found” then she asks where it has been all this time and he says “Colorado!”

AMP changes lives.  Darren’s vision has changed mine and that’s why I took this adventure with the AMP Team. AMP requires your attention, your commitment, your accountability. You will be pulled/pushed to reach your growth, up a mountain if necessary. Leadership is not always a comfortable coat, Doc, but you’ll grow into it. It’s usually too big and heavy and not all that flattering to look at. But luckily it’s not been worn by too many people, so you don’t have their junk in the pockets. Just your own. Junk in the pockets. Big pockets. It’ll take a while to find it, accept it as junk and chuck it. But when you do, that coat gets lighter and better looking. Yes, it does. Check it out in the mirror.

Your new patients come to you in pain or distress, right?  When it’s their first visit or they are in great pain or distress, they are anxious about trusting you. You must show them your skills and solve their problems. Build their trust. With a foundation of trust, they come back and quickly learn to follow your instructions, even ask for more help and bring their friends and family to you. You create treatment plans, schedules, and payment arrangements to meet their needs.  You have a fantastic team that follows your vision, says your words; holds their hands when necessary.  The dentistry can be uncomfortable or even painful, but with their trust, it goes well. They get through it. What do they gain? Better health. Better lives.  And it makes you feel (insert your favorite superlative here), right? I always went to my private office or the pump room and did that karate-type move that the doc did every week in the opening credits of ER. Know the one I mean?  I still do it when I feel like a stud. 

Well, Dr. Patient, you’re next. Tell your story. Open (your heart) wide.  “What seems to be the problem?" Not to worry, we can fix that.”

Trust AMP, I did. 

Check them out at www.acceleratemypractice.com .  Sign up for their blog.  Call for a free practice evaluation.  Or just call and chat.  They have great stories to tell, and not all about gassy whales – some are even cooler.

Mark Thoreson, DDS - mgthoreson@gmail.com 



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