Two paths — two destinations

Sept. 1, 2011
You can spend your life reacting and solving problems or you can spend your life creating.

Michael Schuster, DDS

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You can spend your life reacting and solving problems or you can spend your life creating.

We all react. Dental school taught us to solve problems. People come in wanting something fixed, and we've been conditioned to fix it.

The majority of dentists I talk to are tired and burned out. They have people, time, and financial problems. They can’t become excited, engaged, or wealthy when they are reactive. The more time they spend reacting, the more the rest of their lives move into a reactive orientation.

We all create. A part of us always urges creation. When we first started to practice, we were in a creative orientation. When we start any meaningful project or develop any new skill, we are in a creative orientation. Life is very different when we spend the majority of our life and time in a creative orientation.

Creating is bringing something into existence that didn’t exist for you before. Dentists who create are more alive, have more energy, and sustain growth and change. Creators do not burn out. There is no such thing as a completely reactive person or a completely creative person. On the other hand, there are dentists who are predominately reactive and others who are predominately creative.

The two different life orientations lead to two totally different experiences of practicing dentistry and two totally different destinations. A dentist in a creative orientation is constantly learning, growing, evolving, changing, and living an engaged, rewarding, and exciting life and practice.

A dentist in a reactive orientation is stuck, frustrated, upset, angry, and looking for something to do other than dentistry. People who react are motivated to move away from something; therefore, their motivation is always negative and short term. Once you have moved away from it, the motivation is gone.

People with a creative orientation are motivated to create something that is important to them. Therefore, their motivation is always positive and life and energy sustaining.

I talk to dentists who have spent a fortune in time and money with management companies and consultants. They have improved a little but not much because they are trapped in a reactive orientation.

How many times have patients told you that they cannot afford to have dental work done, but at their next appointment they bring you pictures from their Hawaii trip?

All people would really rather create than react. If they see dentistry as reactive and a trip to Hawaii as creative, then I rest my case. Until people see what they need as a want they will delay it.

In his recent book, “Change or Die,” Alan Deutschman outlines the three keys to change:

  1. You form an emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope. This is new hope.
  2. The new relationship helps you learn, practice, and master new habits and skills you'll need to grow and change. This is new skills.
  3. The new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation and your life. This is new thinking.

Most people, regardless of their position in life, live in a reactive orientation and are too busy to stop and think. Gradually they have reacted so long that they don't believe there can be any other way. They get so busy reacting that they have no time to create.

95% react! 5% create!

When you are in a creative orientation …

  • with regard to your spouse and family, you build lasting, loving, and meaningful relationships.
  • with regard to your practice, the result is growth.
  • with regard to your life, the results are vitality, engagement, involvement, fun, and personal expression.

There is no question that the creative process has had more impact, more influence, and more success than any other process in the history of mankind.

Everything we use, every instrument and piece of technology we own, every manner in which we have learned to conduct ourselves and our practices is the result of the creative process.

Learn it, use it, own it, and your life and practice will change for the better.

Choose wisely.

A practicing dentist, Dr. Michael Schuster founded the Schuster Center in 1978. Guiding thousands of graduates to achieve wealth and freedom, the Schuster Center is the first business school created exclusively for dentists. Dr. Schuster is a cadre and former director at the Pankey Institute, adjunct faculty at the Dawson Center, OBI, and LSU Cosmetic Continuum. Dr. Schuster can be reached at (800) 288-9393,, or [email protected].

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