Prem-Pal Sehmi Get’s The Job Done
In this short article we talk to Prem-Pal Sehmi, Dentist and CEO of Quick Straight Teeth about life, business, dreams, superhero's and getting the job done.
Since becoming a father, my perspective on life has changed beyond measure. Raising children allows you to see the world through their eyes and it teaches you some amazing lessons. As a child, your imagination and dreams know no bounds. My 4 year-old son is a huge Superman fan and every day in his little world he is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and leaps tall buildings in a single bound. Even as adults we love these superheroes, because something in us still yearns to be like them.
As we grow up, we gain new perspectives and a new outlook on life … but along the way we lose some things as well. Our biggest loss on this journey is the courage and the ability to dream. We learn to settle, to compromise, to make do. Life becomes a mundane collection of habits and clichés, a burden of responsibilities, a shadow of what we had dreamt it would be as a child.
With regard to our working life, people broadly approach their circumstances and social position through one of the following three mindsets:
- The first group of people enjoy their work, are happy with their earnings and content with their position in society.
- The second group are not happy but are using their best endeavours to try and move on to what they perceive as bigger and better things.
- The third group are not happy with their jobs and do not have it within them, due to their circumstances or the limits of their thinking, the means or capacity to change this.
We can set about changing our life’s direction and more specifically, enjoying our work, by taking one fundamental first step … dare to dream … as the late Walt Disney often said, “If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”
Going back to the Man of Steel, how do we fulfil our goals and have some fun along the way? In choosing your dreams, be big and bold and have a worthy purpose. Superman was often quipped as saying his job was to “fight for truth, justice and the American Way.” Now that’s reaching for the stars. Although you can’t fly, don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve, your underpants on the outside of your trousers and reach for the impossible.
No matter how lofty your dream, you must define it, write it down, and take steps every day to move closer to achieving this. Procrastination is the thief of time, and time ill spent will ultimately rob you of your dreams. A seemingly difficult task can easily be achieved if it is forefront in your mind and you devote small amounts of time and energy every day to achieving this goal. The alternative is spending the remaining years of your working life aimlessly busy with no direction, which at some point leads to dissatisfaction and a feeling of being unfulfilled.
Some of the greatest historical scholars and philosophers understood the power of our thoughts and dreams in taking control and shaping the outlook of your life. One of my favourite quotes from Lao Tzu illustrates this beautifully:
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
Essentially, we become what we think about every day, so keep what you want foremost in your mind. It is in your power to love the life you have whilst still aiming for something more ideal. Another philosopher, Descartes was onto something when he coined the phrase “I think, therefore I am.” Nothing good will come of concentrating on problems and being careless with your thoughts. So choose your thoughts carefully. Choose to dream.
In the UK we have the longest working hours in the western world, so whilst it is important to find a job that you enjoy, often times you must accept that this will not happen immediately. However, you not enjoying your job is your choice! Due to mortgages, cars, children, mistresses or any one of a number of reasons, you are probably not financially in a position to wipe the slate clean and start afresh with your career. What you can do is ensure this situation is temporary by working towards that ideal position, but it doesn’t mean you should not try and enjoy the work you do now. How you choose to interpret your position in life at this moment in time is completely down to you. If Viktor Frankl could find meaning in his tortuous years spent in a concentration camp, I am certain you can find it in your work.
In your general life, to include your work, you must reduce the number of things that cause you problems, discomfort or that dreaded state of unfulfilment. Superman is famously vulnerable to only one thing—kryptonite. For the rest of us mere mortals, there seems to be an endless list of things to which we are vulnerable. If there are areas of your life that you can change to reduce stress then these need not cause you worry, equally, if there are things outside your circle of influence, these need not concern you as you cannot change them. If you are one of those people that take your work home with you, are always nagged with money worries, staff issues, lack of time and no social life, then you need to make some changes. If you are in this unfortunate situation of being very unhappy in your work then you have two options. You can either change the situation or change your perspective and attitude. Thankfully, for dentists, working in what is arguably a privileged profession, there is no kryptonite that a little positive thinking cannot overcome.
In so far as your dental career goes, the beauty of this job is the sheer number of options open to you. Find one aspect of it that you enjoy, and the good thing is every day you are likely to encounter at least one person in need of the particular treatment that you like doing.
This brings me onto my next point. Superman is the fastest, strongest and most intelligent superhero in the DC Universe. Now unlike him, you don’t need to be good at everything, instead make sure you excel in at least one thing. It doesn’t matter what it is, but make sure you master at least one aspect of your dentistry. So whatever your thing is, whether its perfect root canals, lifelike composites or precision crown preps, make sure you relentlessly pursue excellence. As with most things creative, doing something well brings its own rewards. Practice this every day and you may just find yourself enjoying work a great deal more.
If I haven’t inspired you so far that making good of today does not mean sacrificing your passion for tomorrow, then sometimes we do well to remember that one of the most basic ways of enjoying our time on earth is to help others. Now you won’t be saving people from burning buildings or catching helicopters, but what better profession than dentistry to help people? You can make someone’s day, every day. If you can find nothing else redeeming in your work, then the fact that you can make a difference to every person that sits in your chair should ensure that your occupation is meaningful and enjoyable.
If you think of your current position as a stepping-stone in your plan as a whole, then your endless hours of NHS check-ups suddenly have a little more purpose to them.
Whatever your working situation, whether you own a practice, work as an associate or otherwise, you should strive to elevate the people around you. To do this you don’t need the cape or the blue jumpsuit, but rather a good moral code. Superheroes embody a lot of human ideals, and even in the modern age, good old-fashioned manners, integrity, honesty and hard work are held in high regard. As the leader of any team, you must extol these virtues, because bear in mind, the people working under you will build the environment around you in your image. It’s up to you to make sure they build something that you are happy to look at every day.
Alongside all your responsibilities to your staff, patients and family, you have a responsibility to yourself to make sure that the day job doesn’t become all-consuming—always a danger in the dental profession. When you are not saving the world, this is your time to make sure you concentrate on the things that are important to you—your family, friends, hobbies and yourself. Without this balance, it would seem there is little point in working so hard. To excel at your work, and therefore to enjoy it, you must be refreshed, recharged and play just as hard. Even Superman had the Fortress of Solitude where he escaped from the world; you would do well to build one too.
So, the next time you think you don’t like your job, you have a bad day at the office, the staff drive you nuts and the patients complain … it is up to you to change your perspective, love the moment and use it to shape the future that you want. Remember back to what it felt like when you too could move faster than a speeding bullet, be more powerful than a locomotive and leap buildings in a single bound. Impossible? My 4 year-old son does it every day … so can you.
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