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Why Chasing Excellence Is More Sustainable than Chasing Perfection

Dr. Brett Gilbert dives into deep conversations that cover a wide spectrum of topics like building new leadership capabilities, overcoming fear and shame, and how to manage burnout and stress with meditation. It's power-packed with insights you will want to explore and practice right away.

What does a healthy daily routine look like? Is the path to self-growth and development linear or something else entirely? In this episode,  Dr. Brett Gilbert, King Endodontics in Chicago, IL discuss:

  • His career journey and how the last four years have changed his life
  • The best advice for new endodontists 
  • Overcoming fear and shame by expanding your toolkit
  • Redefining meditation

Ready to embrace the gift of imperfection and learn how to turn failure into growth? Grab a Perrier and join us on the podcast.

You have to fill your cup first. And when your cup is overflowing, then you have so much more to give.” — Dr. Brett Gilbert 

Best advice for new endodontists

You're going to be on a curve, and you have to realize that unexpected, un-hoped-for things will happen. These are actually beautiful, golden nuggets of learning. 

It's easy to say, " It's my fault. I'm not good enough. I'll never be good enough." This is not the right approach, though. Learning is the right approach. So be kind to yourself. Recognize that you have much to learn. Accept that you will make errors and misjudgments. It's all beautiful learning. 

The biggest thing a new endodontist should focus on

According to Brett, the biggest thing to focus on is self-kindness. You've entered into an extremely difficult field. The procedure is challenging, even for the most experienced clinician. So you're going to get into situations where things are not going to work out the way you'd hoped. "I remember as a young clinician," Brett told us, "knowing in my mind what I wanted to do, and not being able to do it with my hands and how frustrating it was. So my advice is to realize that you're going to be on a curve."

What meditation means to me is stillness; getting yourself comfortable in a still space” — Brett Gilbert

Expand your toolkit

What do you do when bad things happen?

Brett advises rest — meditating, taking it easy. You can journal or do yoga. When Brett did that, he discovered quickly that he wasn't burnt out anymore.  Maybe meditation or yoga isn't in your personal toolbox, but you do have a toolbox. Your personal growth is a collection of tools on a big giant tool belt. You may not pick up one tool for a year, but at the moment that you need that tool it's going to be there for you. 

All of a sudden, you'll remember the babbling brook, the cloud in the sky, or the leaves going across the ground. You'll realize it's time to tell yourself to breathe in joy and breathe out fear. These are tools, and you carry them with you all the time you never forget them. When you need them, they're there. The best part of all this is that your tool belt is getting bigger and bigger all the time. It'll probably keep growing. And you can use it every single day in different ways.

What does burnout feel like?

Burnout feels just awful. You just feel awful. You're not seeing things clearly. You're in a negative thought pattern. You're tired. You're in pain. You're not sleeping well, and you're not happy with the life you're living. 

In the depths of burnout, you actually just feel sick and awful. 

"I have vacillated because I had a really busy year last year,” Brett said. I was really committed to growing my practice and I pushed myself to the brink."

As a result, Brett burned out around the holidays. It scared him because he knew what burnout was all about, having experienced it in the past. What was different this time, though, was that he knew what to do. He knew he had that tool belt. And he knew how to use what was on it. 

“Your patients feel your energy more than they hear your words, or they look at your scrubs, or they see your fancy equipment. If they like what they feel, you’re in great shape” — Brett Gilbert

Redefine meditation

The word meditation turns off a lot of people. That's too bad. Brett meditates at least twice a day, every single day. Often he meditates more than that. 

What is meditation?

To Brett, meditation is just stillness. It's simply getting yourself comfortable in a still space. The practice of meditation allows you to be good — to be exactly who you are — and to do so on a daily basis. It also helps you remember that you're on a journey. Everything's going to happen exactly how it's supposed to happen. Although we feel like we're controlling it, we're really just strapped into the roller coaster. We think we can steer but we can't. It's a difficult thing to let go of, and stillness or meditation can be really helpful. 

When you're meditating, you don't have to do anything spectacular. You could stare at a tree if you like, but the key is that every time you start to meditate you let the thoughts that come pass by you. Meditation isn't shutting down your thoughts. It's just acknowledging that when you realize you've gone off from the thought, you start coming back to your breath. Sit and take breaths.

Don't we all sit and breathe all the time, though?

Sure, you're breathing in and breathing out right now. But are you breathing in joy and breathing out fear? Are you breathing in happiness and breathing out anxiety? Once you are and you realize it, you can start to play with that in a quiet space in nature. Brett says you'll be surprised at the massive reset and the peaceful feeling that you get.

The Gift of Imperfection

Shame is really one of those big gorillas in the room that people don't want to talk about. But we all feel it, and we all suffer from it. Brene Brown has an incredible series that really deeply addresses shame. Her book Gifts of Imperfection discusses the difference between people who are living a wholehearted life and people who aren't.

“You'd be hard-pressed to find more passionate professionals than endos. When we take care of ourselves, we are owning our futures — as doctors, as humans and as family, it’s so beautiful.”

To make sure you never miss an episode of The Endo Files, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, the website, or your favorite podcast player.

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When you're ready to chat, we're here.

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