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Dr. Jason Luchtefeld

Innovator Series

Dr. Jason Luchtefeld of Inspero LLC discusses:
-Exploring your capacity for resilience
-Using resilience to lower stress and improve performance
-How to be resilient in the face of challenges, especially now

Video transcription:

Liz Lundry, RDH - "Hi, everyone. I'm Liz Lundry, the clinical education manager for StellaLife. Welcome to the StellaLife Innovator series. Today's innovator is Dr. Jason Luchtefeld, a dentist who is passionate about learning, creativity, future thinking and helping to guide others. This is why he's a part of Inspiro, a collaborative group of innovative thinkers and doers who help dentists, dental teams and dental organizations realize their preferred futures. This group of innovators breathes hope into people and organizations seeking growth, hence the name Inspiro, which means breathing hope in Latin. And they do this by helping others discover their path to success and significance through a process rooted in decades of research and experience. So today Dr. Luchtefeld is going to guide us on a mini course on resilience, which is something we all need right now. So let's get inspired by Dr. Jason Luchtefeld."

Dr. Luchtefeld - "Hi. My name is Jason Luchtefeld. I'm a dentist in southeast Illinois. I've been here about ten years. I've been practicing for 20 years, so I did graduate from Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in 2000, did a residency at a VA hospital out in Denver and then practiced out in the Colorado Rockies for about four years. From there, I moved to Florida and had a small practice there for about five years before moving back to Illinois, a little closer to home. And so through that time, I've been through a lot, a lot of different types of practice, from opening from scratch to buying an old office and rebuilding it to joining a very well established practice and trying to fit in. There've also been other hurdles, whether that was personal relationships, business challenges, dealing with insurance companies, corporate dentistry, there's all kinds of different areas that as a general dentist, especially one that owns a private practice, we find ourselves having to deal with. At times that can result in some fatigue, decision making fatigue, just personal fatigue. And so today we're going to talk a bit about resilience. So why me? Why would I want to talk about resilience? Well, a couple of years ago, I guess it's been five or six years ago or more now, I was working with the AES, formerly American Equilibration Society, and was working on their strategic plan, as the chairperson of the strategic plan, where Bob Frazer was the facilitator. In that process, I learned a lot about strategic planning and about what Bob was teaching and doing in his business. A couple of years after that, I met up with two guys, Dr. Ryan Coulon and Dr. Don Taylor, and they were going to be merging or buying Bob's business and asked if I wanted to join in the fun. I said, "well, yeah, I would there's aspects of the business I really gravitate towards and would love to be involved with". So they're two great guys. Bob has a wealth of information and knowledge he's been able to share over the years. And so I got into there and learned about emotional intelligence. And this was kind of my first step, then into the world of self awareness and self management and social awareness and social management and being able to look inside and figure out what I needed to do to make myself better, how I needed or how I could affect the relationships of my life and in business. That gradually led me down a path of reading, exploring, and finally finding some things through Positive Psychology, through multiple books that now has led to creating this resilience toolkit that I'm here to talk to you today about. So the resilience toolkit came about mainly because of this pandemic we're dealing with. Shortly after we had shelter in place orders here in Illinois, the Positive Psychology website put out a crisis toolkit, and that's really the foundation of what I use to build the resilience toolkit. Many of the exercises are there, I took them and tweaked them a bit for either dentistry or to have some different instructions that were a little more relatable, more for the average person versus someone more clinical. What you see is kind of my interpretation, plus my additions to the fold to make it a little more interactive. That is available on our website as a PDF download it's like an ebook or some people call it a slide doc. It's PDF you can download, print it off, and then there's exercises you can follow along. Let's talk about resilience. We talk about wanting to have something be robust. We don't talk about resilience as much, well, we are now because of what we're going through, but typically it was how to create something robust that can resist deformation or resist change. A really good example is a bourbon barrel, yum by the way. You have fixed sides and they can resist a significant amount of pressure, and that can be a really good thing. There are systems in our offices, for example, that we want to be robust. We need them to be robust. Sterilization is a great example. Resilient would be something, first thing I think of is a Willow tree, how it just blows and sways in the wind. A better example in terms of dealing with stresses might be considering a marsh versus a sea wall. So a sea wall can be great in some instances, however, because it's robust and not resilient, you reach a certain point when that breaks, it's catastrophic, whereas a marsh is going to have a much more fluid and ability to adapt and change to the circumstances. So when we are resilient, we think of that as being able to survive with continuity of identity and an ability to recover from or adjust to change. So it's an important concept because right now changes are happening. You may be able to come out of this and say, you know what practice is going to be the same as it ever was. I had a couple of months break and pretty relaxed about it. We'll get to later on and just talk about why that might be, but you also might be really stressed right now, and that wouldn't be surprising. There's a lot of uncertainty right now, we don't have control over what's happening, and so the unknown about what is going to happen to us, what's going to happen to others, whether that's loved ones, our teams, our patients, and what's going to happen to our business, a lot of things up in the air right now. So the exercises in this resilience toolkit are meant to help you cope, to explore and then expand your own capacity for resilience. The first exercise explores control. The objective is to increase your awareness surrounding your own personal control. Next we explore tension. Tension is important. However, it's like Goldilocks, too much tension, not a good thing. Too little tension, and you're not stimulated. You're bored. So we need to learn to welcome some of the tension that comes from this lack of control and this unknowing, this uncertainty. A really important concept here is the idea of an equation. I know you didn't know math was going to be involved, but trust me, this is a good one. The equation is stress plus rest equals growth. You may have heard that before, but worded differently, it's the same whether we're talking about biology and the fundamentals of how bone responds to stress, can talk about why it's important for men and women both to exercise with something weighted as we get older to maintain bone strength, we talk about dental implants or teeth where stressing the system to a certain degree is a good thing. But too much stress is bad, too little stress is bad. And a key part of the equation is rest. You have to be able to take the time to rest. So if we're talking about our emotions or our mental ability, our mental agility, we need to stress those things too. But then we need to rest them. So constant stress, constant flooding of cortisol and all the fear and doom and uncertainty without rest is what creates burnout. So take the time to rest when you need it. Hopefully, after this exercise, you'll be a little bit more self-awareness to be able to know when you're due for some rest. Okay, the next exercise is called The Window of Tolerance. I kind of like this one. It's fun to explore, it's fun to imagine some different scenarios for this, and here you're going to explore how you respond to different triggers or different challenges or different insults. You'll find that sometimes things will set you off. You are hyper-aroused from something. Sometimes, you're going to find that you freeze or you completely ignore and you are hypo-aroused from something. In the middle is your window of tolerance. So we want to find a way, and this is what the exercise is meant to do, to establish what your window of tolerance is and then look at ways that we can increase the size of your window. Next, there's somewhat of a bonus exercise, and I put this in here because some of this stuff can be overwhelming. When we're looking at control, for example, and you're forced to really self analyze and look deep into what you have control over and what you don't, sometimes that can be overwhelming. When you're looking at your window of tolerance and you find that you might have a little window and growing that window looks daunting, well, this is where this third exercise comes into play. It's called RAIN, that is Recognize, Allow, Investigate and then Nurture. So this is from Tara Brach's self compassion teachings and it really is about our personal resilience capacity and our ability to have some self compassion. So first, recognize. Recognize that there's an issue or a problem or you're disappointed. Allow it to happen. It's okay. The sun is going to rise again. So don't stress yourself out if you have an issue where you overreact, the important thing is to ultimately recognize it and learn from it. So allow that to happen sometimes and then investigate. So what were the circumstances surrounding your lack of an ability to respond the way you wanted? Were there certain triggers? Was there something you ate? Was it people you were around? Was it the weather that day? It could be a number of things. But investigate that and then nurture it and nurture yourself. So this is the permission. Let it sink in  and don't stress yourself out that you might have had a rough go at once. Finally, we get to the point where we're actually going to build your resilience plan. We do this through four personal resources that you're going to explore. First is support, and these are the people around you that are there for you, that you can count on, and you may not always realize that they're there for you, but they are. Sometimes it's the person that's there for you all the time. Maybe it's a spouse, significant other, a parent, a child. But that support going forward is going to be critical. Second is strategies. These are coping mechanisms that you use. Maybe it's meditation or journaling, something that you've done in the past to help you cope with a stressful situation, a challenge that you've needed to deal with. Third is a fun one sagacity. Yeah, I had to look it up the first time I saw it and you can to, maybe you won't need to after this. This is your internal wisdom. Some people might call it a gut feeling, some people might say it's the innate things that you just learn over time that you don't realize you learned, but they provide you with an internal strength, a meaning, a purpose. But this is what I do. I tackle these issues. And so this internal wisdom is going to be critical to tap into going forward. And finally, we have solutions. And these are behaviors that you may display that are needed in times of challenge. Behaviors like inability to do research, for example. And so going forward, we'll want to also rely on that. You're going to start by thinking about a past situation and the exercises in the toolkit. For each of these categories, support strategies, sagacity, and solutions, you're going to write down things that you've used in the past. Now, some of those things you're going to want to use in the future. So you're going to have that as something you can fall back on whenever you need it. On almost the last page, you're going to have an area where you do take those you take the ones that you want to be able to utilize for future challenges and write those down. But here you could also add in things that might be lacking. So maybe you are, let's see solutions, personal research, maybe you're not that good at doing research on the issue that you have, and that's something you want to work on. Well, now you can develop a plan to improve your ability to do research. Or maybe you've heard about how important a journal can be, journaling on a daily basis, but you haven't really done it. Well, this would be the spot you could put down journaling as a future tool to help you through difficult situations. So once completed, you are going to have a toolkit to act as a resource for any time you are feeling challenged, stressed, unsure, you need something to fall back on, open this up, go to the appropriate section, it's going to help you with what you're dealing with. Rest assured, there is a pathway through it. The ideal way to go through this is with others. So being able to form a small group of four to ten people, take sections, so do the control section together, and then talk about it. And being able to share with others helps. Being able to learn what other people do can also be a huge help. And then, what that might end up doing as well, is growing that support circle for you. So good luck. Feel free to reach out with any questions. Keep breathing hope."

Liz Lundry, RDH - "Wow, that was great. Thank you so much, Dr. Luchtefeld and thank you everybody for joining us today. Please come back next Friday at 12:00 Pacific, 03:00 Eastern, for our next amazing innovator here on the StellaLife Facebook page. Have a wonderful and safe week."