The Quest for Meaning Part 2

August 23, 2019 Paul Henny DDS

Viktor Frankl believed the key to the successful creation of a happy and successful life was to aim toward a deeply significant and meaningful life purpose. On this, he commonly referenced Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote, “He who has a Why to live for can tolerate with almost any How.” Suffering is no fun, but suffering for a deeply significant purpose becomes much more tolerable when you know that the end will justify the means.

Loving Others

On love, Frankl said, “Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of their personality. No one can become fully aware of every essence of another person unless they truly love them, because by love we are enabled to see the essential traits and features in the other person; and even more importantly, see that which is potential in them—that which is not yet actualized, but ought to be actualized.” So, this begs yet another challenging question: Do we love our patients enough to suffer with them, as well as help them to become more of what they are capable of becoming through our collaborative work in dentistry?

Finding Courage in the Face of Adversity

The practice of true relationship-based / health-centered dentistry represents a counter-cultural decision with regard to mainstream thinking and behavior, as corporate dentistry is rapidly moving the profession in the exact opposite direction. Consequently, dedicating oneself to a truly patient-centered philosophy requires courage, commitment, and perseverance. Additionally, one is likely to experience tepid local support for it, as most peers will be following a very different philosophy – a philosophy focused on what they want or need to get out of dentistry, and not what life expects of them. Regardless, the striving for a cause greater than oneself, allows us to experience more meaning in a month than most corporate dentists find over their entire career.

Regarding Success

Regarding the achievement of material success, Frankl wrote, “Don’t aim for it, because the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself, or as a by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

Personal Meaning

As you can see, meaning and personal relevance can’t be bought, copied, or transferred. Rather, it’s an inside-out process which must be discovered within ourselves and then refined over time. If this is the kind of challenging, growth-oriented journey which motivates and inspires you, then The Pankey Institute represents the very best place to both begin it, as well as nurture it all along the way.

Related Course

E3: Restorative Integration of Form & Function

DATE: July 25 2025 @ 8:00 am - July 29 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 41

Dentist Tuition: $ 7400

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

Understanding that “form follows function” is critical for knowing how to blend what looks good with what predictably functions well. E3 is the phase of your Essentials journey in which…

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Quid Pro Quo

June 12, 2019 Paul Henny DDS

Like many aspiring students on a track toward dental school, I studied Latin with the hope that someday my understanding of Latin root word forms would translate into a greater value to me as a dentist.

That day never really came as an obvious epiphany, but rather as thousands of subtle moments later while reading, listening, or learning.

Not Your Standard Definition…

And it also came the day when that I started to attend The Pankey Institute and saw the tag line was “quid pro quo,” and it confused me. It confused me because all standard definitions of quid pro quo sound transactional – something is given or taken in return for something else, so it did not line up with the Institute’s preferred definition: “Give before receiving,” which has a much different tone…a much different intention.

Even today, due to my Latin training when I see “quid pro quo,” I have to stop myself and insert the Pankey definition when thinking about my profession. And I would argue that it is deeply important that we all do so, because viewing dentistry primarily as a transactional business is to devalue it down to a highly skilled trade. And this totally neglects the spiritual and more holistic aspects of our work which are the true source of joy, fulfillment, and meaning over long careers – a lesson Dr. Pankey routinely taught.

The Pankey Institute’s definition of quid pro quo is more aligned with words like Scott Peck’s “love” (selflessly giving to another with the sole agenda of helping them to grow and to become healthier and more fully functioning). The Institute’s definition is more aligned with trust and investing…investing in the sense that we believe that if we selflessly facilitate in others’ greater self-knowledge, self-understanding, and personal empowerment, they will reciprocate by gifting us an opportunity to help them achieve their goals.

What is the quid? What is the quo?

In other words, we offer our true and sincere caring as the “quid,” and if done in the right way, at the right time, with the right person we get the “quo” in return, as a reward experienced as a new trusting and deeply helpful relationship which yields respect, admiration, and appreciation in an ongoing fashion.

We get emotional confirmation in return. As dentists serving patients in our professional capacity, we get proper financial compensation in return as a SYMBOL of how much the person values the relationship and what it has brought into their life.

“Because I care.”

In a recent sermon, our minister said: “The summons for us as people of God…those who are called to be full of compassion, mercy, and love, is to live in such a way that people ask ‘Why’? Why do you feed me? Why do you clothe me? Why do you visit me when I am sick? Why do you do these things for me? And our response will be, simply, because I care…because I love you.”

Quid pro quo…THAT is what it means to me.

Related Course

E1: Aesthetic & Functional Treatment Planning

DATE: December 11 2025 @ 8:00 am - December 14 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 39

Dentist Tuition: $ 6800

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (Per Night): $ 345

Transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the Key, and Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of…

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About Author

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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