Five lessons dentists can learn from watching Family Guy

November 1, 2013

There are times when I don’t want to think too deeply. I just want to laugh. When those moments hit, I find Family Guy on my television.

If you’ve never seen it, Family Guy is an adult animated sitcom which revolves around the Griffin family -- Peter, Lois, their children MegChris, and Stewie, and their walking, talking pet dog Brian. The show is set in the fictional city of Quahog, R.I., and much of its humor comes from cutaway gags that poke fun at American culture and world events.

The gags are quick and often juvenile, but I also think there are some lessons from Family Guy that can be applied in your dental practice. You don’t believe me? Read on…

Lesson #1 … Someone always wants to rule the world.

It didn’t take long for Family Guy viewers to understand that Stewie, the youngest of the Griffin children, is bound and determined to rule the world. Whether it’s through his myriad of weapons and inventions he has in his bedroom (time machine or mind control device, anyone?) or just physically thrashing the other toddlers his age, Stewie wants to be king (even if that’s just of the jungle gym at the playground). Family Guy producer Steve Callaghan was asked about Stewie’s quest for world domination and responded by saying, “Well, as I tell my minions, true domination can only result from bearing this single truth in mind: the key to being able to dominate the world is understanding the world around you.”

In the dental practice, there is going to be someone who wants to rule the world, whether it’s through manipulation, whining, or just sheer ego. The key for you is to understand that world around you, the real reasons why someone is trying to overtake your kingdom, and know how to deal with it. You may not be able to do it by yourself (another great reason to have an office manager) … which leads to Lesson #2.

Lesson #2 … Find your best friend.

The old saying that a dog is man’s best friend is certainly seen on Family Guy where Brian sticks with the Griffin household, no matter what. In one episode, Brian sticks with Stewie all the way from Quahog to the North Pole as Stewie tries to prove that there is a Santa Claus. He’s been beaten up, been set on fire, had his tail cut off, and seen his Prius wrecked (all of this by family members I should add), but he remains, as Peter calls him, his best friend in the world. And how important is Brian to the Griffins? He is the only Family Guy character who has appeared in every single episode of the series.

So who is that one person in the practice you can count on through thick and thin? Who is that one person you may have your disagreements with from time to time, but they still will be there for you when it matters most? In many practices, this is the office manager, a person who works as the “middleman” many times for the doctor. She isn’t afraid to confront a hard problem

Lesson #3 … Don’t spend money just to have the latest gadget.

Peter may not be the smartest character on Family Guy, but he often has some of the coolest and expensive toys. He’s had the Petercopter (a light blue helicopter with Peter’s face on the front), the Hindenpeter (a zeppelin), the Peterang (a piloted boomerang), and the Peterdactyl (yes, he had a extinct bird of prey). All have either crashed or died from being electrocuted (in the pterodactyl’s case). Lois even reminds Peter at one point after the Petercopter crashes that he bought it even though the family couldn’t afford it.

Do you buy the latest technology gadget or gizmo just because it’s the newest thing out there? Do you buy technology even though you don’t know the ROI on the product or if your practice can really afford it? Do you buy technology only to see your team members shaking their heads? Before you buy that next great piece of technology, make sure you really know the numbers behind it and have your team on board.

Lesson #4 … Learn how to get along with all of the different personalities of your team.

Family Guy has a ton of characters, but let’s look at the drinking crew that usually hangs out with Peter. There’s Joe Swanson (a paraplegic police office with anger issues), Glenn Quagmire (a sex-crazed airline pilot), and Cleveland Brown (an often peaceful and patient deli owner). Now there’s no way that these four people should mesh, let alone hang out and have all of the adventures that they have through the years.

Now think about all of the personalities you have in your dental practice. Do you celebrate those differences or let them tear your team apart? You have to work with them every day so do what you can to break down any problems that different personalities are causing in your practice.

Lesson #5 … There will always be that one person or thing that bothers you. Deal with it.

Peter has an enemy: Ernie the Giant Chicken. Ernie will often show up in the middle of a scene, interrupt Peter, and then the two will have an epic fight. Peter always wins and returns back to his normal routine, even though he is bruised and battered … and Ernie is also always shown, giving a hint that he will be back. You never know when Ernie is going to pop up … but he will.

Who is that one person or thing that always gets under your skin and maybe even leaves you a little battered and bruised? Are you willing to do what it takes to finally get rid of your giant chicken? If there’s one thing or person holding you back or making you edgy, do what you can today to eliminate that problem.

Images Courtesy of FOX