Keep Smiling

Root canal.

What visions do those words bring to mind? Pain. Inconvenience. Terror.

I just returned from my twice yearly dental cleaning. When the hygienist asked, “Are you having any discomfort,” and I responded, “Yes, the second tooth from the back on the bottom is really sensitive to cold,” she looked in my mouth and replied, “I can see why, you have three cracks in that tooth.” After she finished cleaning and polishing the other 23, my longtime dentist came in, peered through his über-magnifying glasses, and said, “Well, David, looks like I need to refer you to an endodontist.”

This will be my fifth root canal in the past 24 years. That’s plenty for anyone in a lifetime, yes?

The first one came when I broke my two front teeth in a fall. (Trust me, it wasn’t as painful as it sounds and you wouldn’t know the replacements aren’t real.) The next two – as with this one – were the result of teeth dying. Other than the discomfort from the deadening process, having a root canal is more or less a non-event. Except for the two-weeks of antibiotics to knock out the infection. Except for having to reschedule clients. Except for the anxiety that comes with sitting in that chair under the bright light.

Exceptions. That’s really what success in business is all about when you think about it. You’ve got the regular stuff figured out. That’s being a professional. It’s the things that pop up you’re not expecting that take time, get in the way and distract you. Of course, you wouldn’t be successful, if you didn’t know how to navigate speed bumps and turn detours into opportunities for learning, growth and new direction.

So the next time something appears that steals your focus, take a deep breath, consider your options and complete the steps necessary to get back on track. You’ve been there before and everything worked out. This is just another chance for a crowning improvement.


The Year in Review

Counting down the Top 10 Things I learned this year:


First Things First – During a coaching session one of my clients was describing the challenges he faces in his start-up company. Like many, he struggles balancing all the stuff on his plate. My response: “That’s why I’m eliminating things getting in the way of my success.” There will always be more to do, and most of us focus on what we enjoy, not necessarily what we need to be doing. I recently gave up my position as a columnist for an industry magazine, mutually agreed to end a long-term coaching relationship and decided not to renew a consulting contract. What will you let go of in 2010 to free up extra hours in your schedule?