When conducting an interview with Leah Roling to write this article, I immediately loved how she was ready to dive into her authentic self. For most of us, wearing a mask—especially during an interview—might be the norm. But for Leah, there was no planning—she wanted to just go “free for all.” Her mentality is something rare in dentistry.
So many of us dentists out there just have everything planned out. We go into undergrad knowing that we’ll major in sciences and, next, dive into dental school.
And, when we’re in dental school, we know exactly what we’re doing once we graduate. We plan on opening a practice in some certain location and get our business running. But, when we get to that point, we always wonder: Okay, what’s next? Worse, unlike those previous stages in our dental career, there’s no blueprint—there’s no mentor with tips.
And that’s why I’m so excited to have interviewed Leah Roling. She’s one of the top performance coaches out there and—honestly—she might be the biggest, best-kept secret in dentistry. But not anymore.
For Leah, there’s no doubt that we all have the ability to create habits we can cultivate in order to get to that next level—but it all begins in our mindsets. So many times, we think we need to make this dollar amount, meet this level of production, or pursue this level of growth. But sometimes we forget about why we’re doing the things we’re doing. We forget that we have relationships outside of our business that we want to provide for.
We’re conditioned to do; we’re not conditioned to be.
We dentists often lack patience, unfortunately. If we’re not in a frenzy, if we’re not checking off boxes, then we’re left in our thoughts and our feelings. And, for many of us, that’s uncomfortable. Why? Well, in dental school, we don’t have “thought” or “feeling” school. We’ve really not been taught how to think, and we’ve not been taught how to feel, and so we just put all of our energy—exhaustingly—into the hopes that this practice we own will make us happy. But the truth is, this practice won’t ever make us happy—it’s our thoughts about our practice that’ll make us happy.
Mothers always know best.
At first, Leah was a weight-loss coach. Then she was a marathon-coach, athlete coach, Ironman coach—the list goes on. And, all that time, she didn’t want to leave corporate. She was scared as a mom of three boys—the breadwinner of the family, the one with the insurance, the one that had the retirement, etc. One day, Leah’s mom asked her something: “When are you gonna stop with that story? That you’re ‘good’ at what you do, and it ‘enables you to do what love,’ but you don’t feel ‘great’’? Why don’t you just do what you love?”
Two months later, Leah’s mom was diagnosed with stage four cancer. For two years, Leah’s mom fought hard. Leah stayed in corporate so that she could take care of what she loved— which was her mom, at that time. When Leah’s mother passed, she quit corporate and began borrowing that same belief her mom had relayed onto her: “Do what you love.”
In order to show up within what Leah calls the “A-Line” model, we need to think and feel differently than we did before. Otherwise, we feel like we’re on Groundhog’s Day. We’ll have 40,000 to 50,000 thoughts a day, and 95% of them are from our unconscious programming. That might sound wild enough by itself, but get this: that means that if we don’t hijack those thoughts and become really intentional about what it is that we’re thinking about, our very familiar paths will become our very predictable future.
Worse, we think it’s something outside of us that’s getting in the way of the results we want. We decide it’s all about taking more action. Then we rely on willpower which is not sustainable. Willpower by definition, is doing something you don’t FEEL like doing. We must feel and think bigger and better than who we are at this moment in time.
Frustration has many culprits.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that it’s our practice that frustrates us—that the people the patients, the team members, etc. are to blame— and that’s not the truth. Leah believes that what frustrates us is our thoughts about them. And, in that sense, your mind becomes a pathway to peace. Your mind is your super power should you choose.