The “INCREDIBLE” Bryant Family Vacation

This Can’t Wait…

The year was 2005. I was 8 years into my dream career as a successful doctor. I had a beautiful wife and 2 young kids – a 5 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. Our dental practice was running full steam ahead.

Due to my relentless drive for continuing education, my Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry, negotiating the final buy-out of my first practice, and starting a second practice from scratch, I was truly at full capacity.

I was running 2 dental practices single-handedly since my mentor Dr White had retired. While it’s extremely difficult to balance work and family, I THOUGHT I was doing a good job at it.

A man of good stories and exceptional wisdom

I was so excited for Dr. White to be able to retire. As my mentor, we developed a tight bond. He had an incredible wife and 3 amazing daughters, and he welcomed our talks about football, golf and hunting.

I yearned to learn from his success in business, in his relational skills with everyone he met, and how he cherished his precious wife and daughters. He had it all and I wanted to be like him. I vividly remember how excited he was when he described his plans for traveling and enjoying his retirement.

Many of his business and life lessons stick in my mind, yet one of the most resounding messages to me was when he said:

“When I look around church every Sunday, I realize there is a BIG difference between the 65 year olds and the 75 year olds, AND I want to get out and do some things while I still can!”

A Legacy Left Behind

Unfortunately, one year after Dr. White’s retirement he became ill and was diagnosed with Leukemia. After a valiant fight and 2 rounds of Chemotherapy, he passed away. I was crushed along with our whole practice, team, and patients he had cared for so passionately.

I could write a book about this man, but I want to focus on how his death changed my view of business and family.

The “Double Whammy”

You see, if you are a self-employed doctor then you understand the “Double Whammy”. If you want to take a week off for vacation, you are the producer and the production stops.

The business shuts down, so it does not have income for that week resulting in an unprofitable month. Many of the business expenses keep coming in even when it’s closed.

The other part is you usually have to pay for the vacation. Taking a wife and kids on an airplane anywhere, paying for a week in a hotel, and any other vacation expenses quickly add up.

The first WHAM is the hit on the practice’s checkbook for the producer to be gone.

The second WHAM is the hit on the personal checkbook in order to pay for the expenses of the vacation.

The DOUBLE WHAMMY can take several months to work itself out and can lead to resentment and anxiety about doing it again.

The “Double Whammy” effect…

My wife loves Disney. My kids love Disney. Everything about it. The parks, the cruises, the whole Magical Experience. We were overdue for a trip and my wife was begging for us to plan another family trip to see Mickey and Minnie.

I didn’t want to give in, not that I didn’t want to spend time with my family at Disney, just that the Double Whammy was so painful and stressful. At the time, I was running both practices, so everything was on my shoulders.

What if my patients had an emergency and I wasn’t there?

Would my patients leave the practice if they needed us and we were closed?

How would we pay all the expenses without a week of revenue?

Would my team resent me for going on vacation?

Did they have Paid Time Off or would they have to take the week off without pay?

Would I have to personally cover payroll?

Would I get paid this month?

I felt the sting of having everything on my shoulders, so here’s what I decided to do…

This crossroads of Dr. White’s death and the realization of the vulnerability of the business due to its dependence on me led me to make a HUGE DECISION.

I realized I needed to create a business that was NOT dependent on me. I would have to CLONE myself and hire other dentists to help the business continue to grow. I didn’t call it LEVERAGE then – I called it survival, but success breeds more success and we were on a roll.

I made the decision to hire some help and told my wife to book the trip. You can always make more money but you can NEVER get back the time you missed when your kids were young.

I made the commitment that I wanted to lead the type of family that valued creating memories and pursuing a Legacy of Experiences.

It’s worth it.

We have since that time enjoyed many wonderful experiences and the business continued to grow. It wasn’t always easy but I had lots of help along the way. An incredible team and very skilled, caring doctors allowed us to build on Dr. White’s Legacy and create something very special.

Creating a business that is not 100% dependent on the Owner is a worthwhile pursuit, and builds a REAL BUSINESS. That would become even more important later on when I developed health issues, but that’s another story….

I never missed the lost income, but as I’m about to send my oldest off to college, I’ll never forget the memories of Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, the Haunted Mansion and Tom Sawyer Island.

Takeaways from this blog I hope for you are:

1- Create a REAL BUSINESS – if it’s 100% dependent on you, it’s not real
2- Create a life of experiences – spend intentional time with your family
3- Life is difficult in a vacuum – find a mentor and like-minded colleagues to help you reach your goals

Until next time…

Read More