Self-Discovery During Social Distancing

March 25, 2020 Richard Green DDS MBA

It may not be this week. It may be next before you have a practice continuation plan in place and have communicated fully with your team and patients. When you do find you have some time, I encourage you to sit back and think about everything you have experienced over the last month and what new learning you have discovered. Then reach out to colleagues and talk over your learning. Continue sharing with each other throughout this time of social distancing. 

I am mindful of a quote from Carl R. Rogers: “The true wonder of learning is discovering for yourself.”  

Starting out in my career, I felt well trained technically, yet I must have subtly believed I was a “hardware” salesperson. Or, maybe it had to do with my tendency to be introverted. Whatever the reason, I found it easier to talk “hardware and technique” than to listen well and then help patients clarify their health objectives and the benefits they were seeking in their dental health care experience.  

I went to a workshop led by Carl R. Rogers titled Client-Centered TherapyThis workshop was significantly different than any of my previous educational experiences. It was a participatory experience. It took some time for me to assimilate his educational concepts into my life and practice, and I noticed right off that I had retained more from a workshop experience and could apply my understanding of what I had learned. When I returned to my office, I attempted to create a participatory learning experience for my patients. I learned from these early attempts more about learning and witnessed behavioral changes in myself and my patients.  

I sought out many other workshops at this time in my life. One was Parent Effectiveness Training, facilitated by a local devotee of Dr. Thomas Gordon. Then, I became reacquainted with Dr. Karl Olson, the retired President of North Park University where I had done my undergraduate schooling prior to going to Northwestern University Dental School.  

Olson had joined forces with Bruce Larson and Heidi Frost of Faith-At-Work and created The Leadership Training Institute, which focused on discovering your leadership potential through three separate weeks of “experiential learning.” The first week was focused on Know Yourself, the second-week focus was Know Yourself in a Small Group, and the third-week experience was focused on Designing Small Group Experiences for Others. Each of these three weeks was separated by six months of intentional application and reflection, which created a powerful learning period of discovering myself.  

From my point of view, there is nothing more rewarding than a learning experience in which one can become aware of one’s own learning in “the moment” or upon reflection. So, now that you have been thrust into participating in Knowing Yourself, your practice, your team, and your patients on a new level where there is a concern for everyone’s safety and wellbeing on an elevated scale take time to reflect on what you learned in “special moments” of the past month.  

Are any of your discoveries blog-worthy to stay in communication with your patients? They will appreciate your personal “touch.” 

Making a comment in response to this blog is one way you can encourage a “continuing conversation” of Pankey participants new awarenesses.” 

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Richard Green DDS MBA

Rich Green, D.D.S., M.B.A. is the founder and Director Emeritus of The Pankey Institute Business Systems Development program. He retired from The Pankey Institute in 2004. He has created Evergreen Consulting Group, Inc. www.evergreenconsultinggroup.com, to continue his work encouraging and assisting dentists in making the personal choices that will shape their practices according to their personal vision of success to achieve their preferred future in dentistry. Rich Green received his dental degree from Northwestern University in 1966. He was a early colleague and student of Bob Barkley in Illinois. He had frequent contact with Bob Barkley because of his interest in the behavioral aspects of dentistry. Rich Green has been associated with The Pankey Institute since its inception, first as a student, then as a Visiting Faculty member beginning in 1974, and finally joining the Institute full time in 1994. While maintaining his practice in Hinsdale, IL, Rich Green became involved in the management aspects of dentistry and, in 1981, joined Selection Research Corporation (an affiliate of The Gallup Organization) as an associate. This relationship and his interest in management led to his graduation in 1992 with a Masters in Business Administration from the Keller Graduate School in Chicago.

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Acceptance

November 6, 2019 Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

Some time ago, I was listening to a person speak about love and replacing the word “love” with “forgiveness.” His argument was that if you truly expressed forgiveness, then you are a loving person. As I thought about it, I decided “acceptance” was a better word for me. I felt that if I could accept a person for who they are, then it would be easier for me to forgive, and thus love. This started me thinking about the present and past relationships in my life and how I could apply acceptance.

After intentional self-work in this area, I have found that life is more understandable and pleasant when I practice the art of acceptance.

Consider Relationships

We all have had concerns about relationships. We all wonder why others act a certain way towards us. We benefit emotionally, physiologically, and strategically by understanding where they are coming from and how their past experiences have molded them. Stephen Covey would use the phrase “seek to understand, before trying to be understood.” In other words, accept the person for where they are, before you feel you should be influencing them to be what you perceive is correct. In a bad situation, understanding the other person would be a big step towards forgiveness.

Consider Situations

Acceptance of situations has emotional, physiological and strategic benefits as well. It comes down to understanding what is happening instead of trying to control everything. I find this so true in my practice life when my patients have some sort of moderate to severe dental issue. Until they accept what is wrong and “take ownership” of the situation, there is very little that I can do to help them. Often, the worst thing you could do is to try to fix a bad situation without the patient having ownership of the problem, because if things go astray, it becomes your fault.

For Both Ourselves and Our Patients

The art of waiting for when the patient is ready to accept treatment—and the art of understanding, accepting, and positively influencing the patient during the waiting—have both become easier for me over time. Sometimes we need to have difficult conversations with patients to help them accept the truth. But oftentimes we simply need to better understand what they are thinking and why. And, the gentle way to get at this is to inquire why they are reluctant to move forward without a tone of judgment—instead, with genuine care.

One of the great discoveries of working with the public and patients so closely is that most of what we apply to them we can also apply to ourselves. Therefore, we can benefit from accepting who we are, our personal situation, and how those around us are trying to help us. These can be important keys to moving forward in our own lives. Remember, we all travel the same journey.

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Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

Originally from Michigan, Dr. Myers moved to Maine in 1987 after completing a hospital residency program at Harvard and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. His undergraduate degree in biology and his dental degree were both earned at The University of Michigan. Upon first arriving in Maine, he worked for a short time as an associate dentist and opened his private practice in 1990. During the mid-90’s he associated himself with the Pankey Institute and became one of the first dentists to achieve the status of Pankey Scholar.

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Know Yourself

April 10, 2019 Mary Osborne RDH

The Least Understood Part of Dr. Pankey’s Cross

I’ve always thought that the least understood and least appreciated aspect of Dr. Pankey’s cross of life is the directive to “Know Yourself.” It seems more interesting and exciting to get into learning about your work and your patients. And applying that knowledge makes all the sense in the world. Many high achieving people are happy to dedicate themselves to a lifetime of learning about their work.

What about learning about ourselves? My experience is that it’s easier to believe we have “done that.” We take a psychological instrument and label ourselves as “Driver” or “Amiable.” Check! We survey our values and identify the top three. Check! We write a vision or mission statement. Check! How much more is there to learn?

I have come to understand that, over time, the self-discovery process of knowing yourself can be the most challenging and most rewarding aspect of your work. Knowing yourself is what makes you not only a better dentist, but a more effective leader, a more engaged family and community member, and a more fulfilled person. So, when I was asked to speak about that at the Pankey Institute’s Annual meeting I was both delighted and a bit intimidated. It is such a big topic!

“But, What about Self-Absorption?”

The idea of knowing yourself can have a connotation of self-absorption, a self-serving focus inward. This thought has arisen in our evening discussions at the Institute. We tend to think it is more appropriate to focus outward on our patients, our team, and our work. We want to facilitate their growth and their learning about how to become healthier. It can be difficult to see the value of that inner self-discovery focus. But Parker J. Palmer, whose writing has informed my work over many years wrote:

“. . . When I do not know myself, I cannot know who my students are. I will see them through a glass darkly, in the shadows of my unexamined life, and when I cannot see them clearly, I cannot teach them well.”

That lens through which we see others is an essential part of who we are. What I have learned so far is that my lens includes filters of impatience, and judgment, and assumptions about what I think I know. I have my blind spots. But my lens also includes compassion, and love, and understanding.

After 40 Years, Even New Discoveries

After 40 years in service of others, I am still learning about myself. As I learn to know myself, I am better able to take a step back and look at my filters, not just through them. I’m learning to question and understand where they fit and where they do not. I find it very interesting how on my best days I can see both the filter and the lens. With intention, I practice questioning my assumptions and suspending my judgment. Sometimes I can even laugh at the stories I make up about people and situations! And often I can also see the gifts I bring; the perspective, the compassion. Those are the times when I can bring all of myself to my work.

I serve better and I am better for knowing myself.

 

Mary will be presenting on Know Yourself at the Pankey 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting this year on Key Biscayne, Fl September 13,14.

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Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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Thoughts on Becoming Perfect: Part 2

June 29, 2018 Kelley Brummett DMD

Dental failure and being ‘perfect’ in patient care is a key stressor for dentists. In her first blog on this topic, Dr. Brummett talked about deciding to work toward perfection rather than feeling frustrated about not achieving it. Read on for the rest of her story:

Stop Trying to Be the Right Kind of Perfect

The next morning after my revelation about perfection, I woke up, had coffee, and realized the patient who had been the focus of my upset (over a mistake I made) had texted me. She wrote, “Good morning Dr. Brummett! I just wanted to let you know that I am doing well and have not had any pain.”

What? My patient was doing well, texting me to tell me how well, and she was thanking me?

A quest to provide myself with a new perspective and a reminder acronym began. This perspective would hopefully take shape so that I could share it with my team, my children, and anyone suffering from the punching match of perfection.

Perfection can be the root of depression and upset, which is why becoming perfect will be my focus and acceptance of the process my goal. Perfect will stand for seven perfect words:

P is for position, as it’s good to remain humble about one’s status.

E is for effort, not the result.

R is for resilience, as I will fall, get back up, and grow from the failures.           

F is for facing the fear, embracing the challenge, and striving in the face of fear.

E is for empathy, treating myself and others with compassion.

C is for courage, as though I might not have a cape, I can still use my whole heart.

T is for trust, because with perseverance I can trust that everything will work out.

Later that day, my patient contacted me again and wanted me to know one last thing. She said, “I forgot to thank you for your gentle touch.”

This acknowledgment really drove home the point to me. I will attempt to stop looking through my rearview mirror and look forward through the front window of my life. I will allow myself, and encourage others, to become.

I am thankful for Dr. Pankey’s courage to share his failures and for our patients that believe in us and show us gratitude and appreciation. Now, isn’t that perfect? 

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Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

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Thoughts on Becoming Perfect: Part 1

June 27, 2018 Kelley Brummett DMD

Failure is a hard thing to accept in dentistry. This is especially true because what constitutes ‘failure’ can mean different things to different patients and different dentists.

Keep reading for an anecdote that puts failure in the dental practice into perspective:

Changing Your Perspective on Dental Failure

On my way home from work one day, I turned the radio off, looked through the rearview mirror, and thought, what a day! I had just left my dental office dealing with a “dental failure.” I felt disappointed that this sort of difficult situation had occurred.

Then, this question came to the forefront of my mind: Why do I think I can or should be perfect? With that question, a wonderful reminder appeared out of the blue.

Bill Davis had conversations with LD Pankey about his philosophy and wrote an amazing book that I refer to often. The story I remembered was about Dr. Pankey sharing his own failures. He had worked five cases out on the Monson articulator and said that he basically obliterated the patients’ occlusion.

He shared how all five of the cases failed. He then stated that four of the five patients stuck it out with him because they felt he was conscientious enough to see them through. That’s when it hit me! I realized I had been thinking about this perfection thing all wrong. And, in the voice of Richard Green in my head, I could change my perspective. 

What if I didn’t focus on being perfect, but on becoming perfect?

In my own personal religious growth, I am learning how to develop my physical, mental, and spiritual health. I can learn the principles and values inherent to my faith and develop my character, but I can never truly be perfect. What if I approach my dental life in the same way? On becoming.

To be continued…

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About Author

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Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

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