Life Coaches Aren’t Just for Suckers Anymore

Maggie Augustyn, DDS
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It has to click. It has to fit. It has to be right for you. The timing of it and the coach herself have to be in alignment. A kismet of sorts. At least that’s how it’s happened for me. Out of nowhere, it seemed, I went from thinking that life coaches were for suckers to fully participating in, engaging with, and anxiously awaiting my biweekly sessions.

Right from my initial conversation, I found the voice on the other side of the phone comforting, kind, accepting, and, most of all, empowering. A combination I didn’t know existed and, truthfully, one I didn’t know I needed. It was the specific combination that I gravitated toward, but that combination may not be for everyone.

There are many life coaches, performance coaches, and practice coaches in the dental landscape today, probably more than at any other time before. Their increase in numbers is supported by the many clients looking for affirmation and self actualization.

All coaches come with a set of unique abilities, personalities, and perspectives on guidance. If you’re lucky, like I was, you may find one right at the co-discover session. If you don’t find a kinship or chemistry or a certain comfort level in that initial phone call, though, keep looking until you do.

The Before

Before considering a life coach, stereotypes told me that there were two distinct categories of people who engaged them.

Category number one included professionals who made the big bucks in the CEO suite and, as a result, had money to burn. They were targets likely falling prey to the ridiculousness of a life coach.

Category number two, on the other hand, included people who could not organize their lives, could not set goals for themselves, and had no vision and absolutely no ability for follow-through.

Along comes me in neither category, an average dentist having graduated dental school more than a decade ago, a practice owner, and a clinician. Having felt like I’d done many things right in my life, and having ambition and determination, I wondered why in the world I would need a life coach. I laughingly reacted to the thought in my head at the idea. Ha! I could be the life coach.

The Middle

Rewind a year back. I sat at dinner with Dr. Paul and Mary Goodman, who, upon hearing my dreams of writing and speaking, had suggested that I may benefit from a life coach. Mary recommended that I speak with a woman who specialized in helping female dentists live up to their hopes and self-denoted aspirations. I took down the number so I wouldn’t insult my new friends and called to schedule a co-discovery session.

I picked up the phone if for no other reason than to tell the life coach that her voodoo was too rich for my blood. But much to my dismay, Lani’s soothing voice, eternal positivity, and overwhelming savoir faire brought me to my knees.

I will never forget that call. I felt like she finished my sentences, or maybe I finished hers. She knew me before she got to know me. She was knowledgable, resourceful, understanding, well spoken, calm, and, above all, ridiculously encouraging.

Within one paid session, I modified my behavior enough to treatment plan, present, and follow through on a case that would pay for six months worth of coaching. Today, a year later, both she and I see the incredible change in both my practice and in my life.

“I have been grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Augustyn. Maggie is a paradox, a highly accomplished woman who has a life that most would admire. Yet because of underlying issues, she could not see her true potential. She previously lived a life that was more about reaction than intention, and although she was successful in life, she felt stuck,” Lani said. 

“We’ve uncovered who she is at the core, tying in her life journey, her past struggles, her mastery, and, finally, her dreams. We found a pathway to building the life she desires as she actually helps others who are behind her on the same path! Our journey continues as she inspires myself and others with her courage and tenacity,” Lani said.

I am not including these quotes to gloat or to brag. I simply want to illustrate the forward thinking and self-development that can be accomplished within a short time in coaching. And if that wasn’t enough, my hourly production within the past 12 months has increased by more than 70%.

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Part of the problem for me, and likely for many other dentists, has been the presence of disconnection between how we view ourselves and what others see from our interactions. A lot of us fail to realize that looking in the mirror can give us skewed information.

We tend to be hardest on ourselves. Sometimes, we tend to dismiss our wins only to focus on our losses. It is easy for us to give advice to someone, anyone, but difficult to look at our situation and weigh it accordingly.

Not just that, but with life being as difficult and as busy as it has gotten in the last couple of decades, we have a hard time finding a cheerleader—or, for that matter, being our own cheerleader. Thus, hiring a life coach guarantees that there will be someone who will help us peel off the negative layers we wrap ourselves in. It guarantees a more accurate visage when we do look in the mirror.

The Destructive Thinking Parts

For the last 15 years of my dentisting career, I thought I had to act a certain way, dress a certain way, and  treatment plan and explain procedures a certain way. I felt pressure to live up to certain arbitrary numbers.

That kind of thinking led me to believe that if I failed by those numbers, I was incompetent as a dentist. I never knew there was any wiggle room in what would account to be a successful practice. I never knew that a successful practice could be defined by my own standards as opposed to ill-fitted industry recommendations.

Within the first few sessions, I was able to develop my own definition of what achievement and accomplishment would feel like, something that was unique to my abilities, my lifestyle, and my hopes for the future. My 75-minute conversations with Lani always leave me inspired.

Following each session, I am excited and cannot not wait to try out the newly discussed strategy. I feel awoken to implementing changes. My coach enlightens me to believe that I have many previously undiscovered strengths. In fact, she makes me see that I have my own set of superpowers.

The Now

Prior to coaching, I felt like I was a failed practicing dentist. That was my thought day in and day out. I enjoyed my job. I loved my work, my team, and even my patients, but things just didn’t feel right.

I was unable to socialize with other clinicians because I was afraid that they would see through what I considered to be a failed state. I lived in shame and kept to myself in group meetings. In my mind, everyone was better. Mistakenly, I compared.

Some suggest that comparing ourselves to others is to leave us inspired toward growing more. For me, comparing was a way of breaking myself apart and collecting the ill favors of a defeated existence.

Via coaching, I have awoken to the idea that I compared myself to the wrong people, and it has brought about everlasting change and uncovered joy in my life. I now can’t unlearn what I worked so hard to discover. I no longer allow the ankle weights of comparison to hold me down. The gift of having shed that load came from my coaching.

A New Way of Comparing

A year ago, I didn’t know I was lost. I didn’t know I could be better. I didn’t know I saw myself inaccurately. I didn’t know I could have someone point out previously undiscovered talents in me. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And there was no moving forward.

I now compare myself not to my peers or to my neighbors, but to who I was the day before. In my biweekly Zoom calls, I have been taught to carry an arsenal that would help me overcome those shortcomings. This arsenal has grown larger and larger with each session and has been easier to implement with time.

Hard Work and Good News

A life coach will force you to step out of your comfort zone and follow into everlasting change, a positive change. A life coach will prepare you for that change. Growth is messy, it’s uncomfortable, and it can even be painful. Leaning into realizing our ideal future, the life coach will help you process the disadvantageous outcomes and create accountability.

Many of us are not good at seeing the good in ourselves. The power of a life coach unleashes that potential. A life coach will help you turn off the relentless negative chatter that overtakes you at night and maybe even help you arrest it altogether.

Lani Grass is a life and career strategist for women. She is the founder of waveofwomen.com. She spends her time working with clients on identifying who they really are and how they want to show up in the world, and she then builds a path to their potential using their newfound and true inner confidence. Her burning desire is to help women recognize and play a bigger role in who they are authentically so they can create the life and career they love.

Dr. Augustyn is a practicing general dentist. She earned a DDS from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also has completed the course sequence with the Dawson Academy’s continuum in oral equilibration and cosmetic dentistry. She completes a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education each year as well, including orthodontics, implantology, periodontics, prosthodontics, and cosmetics. Dr. Augustyn is an avid writer. Additionally, she is a moderator on the Dental Nachos. She can be reached at maggie.augustyn@gmail.com.

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