What A Difference a Week Makes!

Jonathan Wood BDS, runs a six-roomed practice in partnership in Jersey. He had a career change to become a director of Denplan and then Dencare through the 1990s, before returning to private practice in 2001:

Having returned from a business retreat run by Breathe Business, I am honestly surprised at the difference that just one week can make to my whole business belief.

I attended the Breathe Retreat, which was held in beautiful surroundings at the Lizard in Cornwall, with my wife, a ‘non-dentist’ and twenty other people, mostly dentists, who were attending with their life or business partners. I think I can safely say that we all came back with a very different view of our futures, both business and personal.

In six days, we were skillfully guided through a great deal of new knowledge about personal development, envisioning a better future and business planning to bring our visions into effect. At the end of 37 hours of verifiable CPD, we had achieved all this as well as a new network of colleagues and friends from all over the country.

To be quite frank, at the time I could not see why I should give up a week of work. I had recently successfully grown my new practice with my business partner to double its size, and I had a large amount of business experience gained from my director days at Denplan and Dencare. It took me some time to agree to book myself and my wife on to the event.

Given all of that, I now realise how easy it is to become blind to the wider view of a future when one is immersed in the rather insular world of dental practice. So for anyone who feels that they’ve arrived at a pretty good spot in life, or those who are not sure where to go next, a Breathe Retreat definitely offers you a clearer view on the future.

Within an hour of the first Monday morning session, it was obvious we were experiencing something in a completely different league to anything I had attended in my 25 (or so!) years of professional life. The three coaches, Simon Hocken, Ernie Wright and Mike Hutchinson, bring a range of experience from large and medium size business through to that of the many dental clients that they support.

Personally, I would say as someone who has been involved in exercises with company values, vision and business planning, that I honestly thought I knew what it was all about – I did not. I can only describe it as a most enlightening experience made possible by a skilled and visionary coaching team. Once we had shared our medium and long-term visions with the whole group, we all felt passionate and committed to making it happen.

It didn’t end there! The Breathe coaches are well aware that the initial flush of enthusiasm for a new life can quickly be quashed by a return to work and the resumption of day-to-day duties. Consequently, a large part of the course is dedicated to establishing achievable goals, which build up into larger steps towards your ultimate vision. Even after the Retreat week, the Breathe mentors stay in touch with clients, and continue to support them whilst they work towards achieving their goals.

I left feeling totally confident on where I wanted my future to go, and how best to achieve this from where I was at that moment. Knowing where you want to go, and how you are going to get there is a very positive feeling!

Also, knowing that I could rely on continuing support from the Breathe team makes a huge difference. Your big plans are within your grasp. Much of my plan was already underway just two weeks after returning home, and I am very much looking forward to the positive changes I am planning to implement this year.

Lorraine Wheeler, Business Manager, Arden House Dental Practice:

When Simon first mentioned the retreat – we were sceptical.

The word retreat made us think of tree hugging and eating alfalfa. We don’t mind a bit of either but we had some big questions and we weren’t sure if four days away from it all in Cornwall would help us with the answers.

But I had been on business workshops in the past and I had found them really helpful – so, between ourselves we called it a Business Development weekend and we felt much better!

Both Simon and Ernie recognise that for many owner dentists, the business and their life are one. They think that before you can arrive at answers that are right for you, you need to look at the whole picture – life and business.

Working in a single handed dental practice we know how often life and work intermingle, so after our initial scepticism, we were keen to try a different way of looking at things.

There were a number of other people on the retreat. Some were business partners; others were couples where one was the dentist and the other person was practice manager. We each came from different types of practice. Some of us were just starting out whilst others were considering retirement – but we each had a “big question”.

At the start, we used some straightforward tools and techniques to help us understand what was important to us – in our life and not just in business.

We looked at our work preferences – again an important part of the jigsaw. How important became apparent when some people saw they liked to work in one way but were actually doing a job that made them work against their natural preference.

Although at first none of this seemed to be addressing business, the more we worked, the more we began to relate our values and interests to the kinds of businesses we wanted.

Once we had these things fixed in our minds, we turned to our specific business questions. There was plenty of time to get into the nitty gritty – but because we had spent time looking at what was important to us, there were actually some new questions too.

Simon and Ernie helped with one to one discussions, good ideas and some hard facts and figures. At the end, we pulled it into a project plan – with concrete actions and deadlines. We know what we are aiming for – and when we will achieve it.

So, what did we get out of our business development weekend (Retreat)?

  • A chance to think – away from the day to day
  • Better answers to our big questions
  • A better understanding of what is important to us – in both our personal and business life
  • A shared vocabulary for change and a shared understanding of how to make it happen
  • A plan of action!
  • We didn’t hug any trees or eat alfalfa

Please contact Ernie on 0845 299 7209 or ernie@nowbreathe.co.uk to understand why the Retreat will work for you and to book your place (places are limited).

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