If I were to select one word most strongly associated with a successful relationship-based, health-centered practice, it would be the word growth.
What kinds of growth? The kinds I am thinking of are growth in knowledge and growth in sophistication of attitudes toward people and dentistry. As I meditate on this, I am enlarging my hope for and commitment to fostering personal growth … interpersonal growth … care team growth … patient growth … and, of course, practice growth. I welcome you to come along with me as I breathe fresh energy into leaving 2020 behind and growing in 2021.
Notice I didn’t mention a single word about teeth or techniques. I didn’t mention a word about technology, or what you must physically own to achieve growth. And that’s because growth isn’t a material thing; it’s a spiritual thing.
Growth can be promoted, or it can be impaired by the way we think, and consequently the things that we do and say day-in and day-out. And what we do repeatedly is driven by what we believe … what we believe about ourselves … what we believe about others … and what we believe about the purpose of dentistry.
What is your purpose in dentistry?
Each of us have a purpose that is driven by our philosophy … our world view … our perspective of things … and therefore what it all means to us. This changes as we grow in knowledge and sophistication of attitudes.
Avrom King said that it all boils down to these three questions:
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- What is it that I am trying to achieve?
All three of them are philosophical questions, and all three lead us to answers which directly influence almost everything else. If we do not understand who we are on a values and beliefs level—what Mac McDonald likes to refer to as “the deep structures of ourselves,” we cannot predictably lead ourselves in any desired direction. And as a result, we cannot predictably lead others in a desired direction either.
Growing with Purpose
Growing with purpose requires Hope and Agency. If we do not hope for something of greater meaning to ourselves and we think we have truly little personal agency, we flounder.
In a world where we believe we have minimal personal value, everything around us starts to look scarce, and everything around us starts to look scary, so we’re tempted to take short cuts. We’re tempted to just grab what we can get for ourselves as quickly as possible. After all, who knows what tomorrow will bring? If we “stay on shore” with feelings of disempowerment and a little too much wine and whining, we ultimately achieve very little with our lives.
If we “stay on shore,” we will attract others who similarly think and behave. Like attracts like. Avrom King liked to call this “King’s Law.”
We tend to create our practice in the exact image of what we believe about ourselves, and consequently, that could be some version of heaven or hell. All of this happens because we choose to grow or to not grow.
Growth requires hope, courage, attitude, energy, and action, i.e., self-determination and self-control. Talk is cheap, so what will you do to master these? Surround yourself with a vision of your preferred self … your preferred career … your preferred dental practice. Acting on that vision leads to a next step and a next. In doing this, you will attract “likes,” and this positive reinforcement will help keep you on the road of your personally purposeful life. How much growth is happening in your practice today?
Can you see the green shoots of enthusiasm and creative change all around you, evidence of constant renewal? Or do you see an ossified structure struggling to maintain the status quo? Are you surrounded by people who are down, frustrated, and thinking that they have no other choice but to keep plodding on as they are?
Who are you?
Why are you here?
What is it that you are trying to achieve?
And that’s why L.D. Pankey, Bob Barkley, and other of our dental heroes constantly talked about it.