Are you still DRIVEN? If so, don’t give in to DISTRESS.

I had intended to start today’s post by posing the question:

“What is it that makes someone want to run their own business?”

Then, thinking about the answer (or, at least, my answer – which I’ll share with you in a moment) I decided to approach this from an entirely different and yet topical perspective.

“What is it that makes someone want to stop running their own business?”

Topical because of the amount of my time that is now invested in discussing with UK and Irish practice owners whether they should accept the increasingly eye-watering offers made by dental corporates.

I might not be up to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours talking about this but it feels like it.

Previously I have observed that the only practice sale is a DISTRESS sale – and that my first series of questions are designed to identify the DISTRESS.

Are you considering a sale to:

  • settle a divorce?
  • pay a tax bill?
  • reduce debt?


  • because you have “had enough” of 2, 3 and 4-letter acronyms:
    • GDC
    • CQC
    • GDPR
    • HR
    • UDA
    • UOA
    • NHS


  • because you can’t/won’t keep up with innovation in:
    • digital workflow
    • internal human interest marketing
    • digital advertising
    • the TCO-led patient journey
    • treatment plan presentation
    • detailed financial analysis
    • leadership and management

Once a client has identified one or more of the above conditions/tolerations, my next question is designed to accurately assess whether a corporate sale is timely.

A simple and yet profound question:

“Are you still DRIVEN to run this business?”

I want to spend a moment on the word DRIVEN.

DRIVEN means:

  • getting up early, no matter how tired you are;
  • staying late, even when everyone else has gone to enjoy a summer’s evening;
  • sacrificing family time to Get Things Done;
  • pushing yourself constantly outside of your comfort zone;
  • being open-minded, innovative and a lifelong learner (the DRIVEN show up for all the courses and conferences);
  • having a dream that others sometimes cannot see – and pushing forward anyway;
  • often feeling VERY lonely;
  • occasionally drowning in self-doubt and imposter syndrome – but getting out there on stage anyway;
  • balancing the need to succeed with the importance of integrity – Colin Campbell’s “Prethics”;
  • doing it, doing it, doing it, doing it.

So here’s the thing.

We all have DISTRESS.

I have a sh*t list.

You have a sh*t list.

There’s always a sh*t list and there always will be.

So don’t kid either yourself or me by telling me that the reason you are selling is JUST because you have had enough of the DISTRESS.

What I want to know is whether you are still DRIVEN?

If not – then let’s get it sold – because, frankly, it would be better for all concerned to get you out of the way.

But if you are still DRIVEN, then can I ask that you stop feeling sorry for yourself and we start looking at the strategies and tactics that will shift the current areas of DISTRESS and move you forward to your next level of achievement?

If you are DRIVEN you don’t have to sell.

I only work with DRIVEN people.

Others need not apply.

I work with DRIVEN people to eliminate their sh*t list and move upwards.

If you are DRIVEN, I’d love to work with you.

(I’m rather enjoying persuading some people not to sell and love to see the lightbulb moment when they realise that they are still DRIVEN)

An optional aside:

I returned from Australia last Saturday and, as soon as I disembarked, knew I had “picked something up” either in Melbourne or during my long journey home.

So my last week has been a combination of 03:00 wake ups, wandering around in a jet-lagged daze and dealing with the unpleasant (and not to be repeated here) consequences of a major chest infection. The constant coughing and spluttering has also reactivated an old war wound, resulting in frequent and unexpected nose bleeds.

Basically, I’ve been a walking wreck for the last 7 days – my meeting at Elmsleigh House Dental Clinic ended around 15:30 yesterday because I had simply lost my voice.

I’ve been lights out and in bed at 20:30 the last few nights.

But I’ve kept going through a combination of Beecham’s Powders and being DRIVEN.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.