When I went for my annual dental cleaning a few weeks ago, I was surprised when the dentist referred me to a periodontist for an appointment. I had no pain or symptoms — but apparently I had a problem.

He described it like this: “If you hit a fence post over and over, it will begin to wiggle, and if it wiggles enough, it will create a pocket around the base of it. Your molar is the fence post and every time you open and close your mouth, you hit that tooth first. So you have a pocket — that we need to excavate, clean, fill and laser shut.” Oh joy!

Three lessons from this experience:
1. Being proactive is a good thing. I went to the original dental cleaning because it was time to do so, not because I foresaw a problem. But because I did, I was able to rectify an issue with a minor procedure and save the tooth from having more serious complications. What systems in your organization need to be on a routine maintenance check? How can you take steps that allow you to catch issues in their infancy rather than when they cause pain?

2. If something is repeatedly the main point of contact, it is prone to need adjustments more frequently. What is the equivalent of your highest molar — the point in your organization that absorbs the most stress and use? How can you more equitably distribute the pressure points so that one area does not handle all the hits?

3. Stay tuned for lesson 3 tomorrow!

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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