A quest for personal growth

Nov. 1, 2000
As I write this, I am stuck on the runway at JFK airport in New York due to inclement weather. I spoke all day to a great group of dentists at the Suffolk County Dental Society, and I am now trying to get back to St. Louis tonight. Hopefully, I will make it! Weather-related delays are the hardest and most frustrating part of traveling for me!

Joe Blaes, DDS

Editor

e-mail: [email protected]

As I write this, I am stuck on the runway at JFK airport in New York due to inclement weather. I spoke all day to a great group of dentists at the Suffolk County Dental Society, and I am now trying to get back to St. Louis tonight. Hopefully, I will make it! Weather-related delays are the hardest and most frustrating part of traveling for me!

I am often asked, "Who motivates the motivator?" If you are the leader of your practice, how do you keep yourself in a proper frame of mind day in and day out? It`s not easy, is it? Sometimes I find it very easy to feel sorry for myself because my day has not gone as I thought it should. So I crawl further back into my cave. Then people really have a hard time communicating with me, because I have isolated myself within myself. How do I get out of the cave and back into the sunlight?

One way is to get to know yourself better. Recently, Sue, my wife, introduced me to Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram). Enneagram is a study of the nine basic types of people, explaining why we behave the way we do. It also points to specific directions for individual growth. The Enneagram teaches that, early in life, we learned to feel safe and to cope with our family situation and personal circumstances by developing a strategy based on our natural talents and abilities.

I am simplifying a complex subject, but I have found that I am a Number 3: "The Achiever." This probably does not surprise you, because I am often asked how I do all the things I do. I guess I do them because of the type of person I am. At my best as a "Three," I am optimistic, confident, industrious, efficient, self-propelled, energetic, and practical. At my worst as a "Three," I am deceptive, narcissistic, pretentious, vain, superficial, vindictive, and overly competitive. I am motivated by the need to be productive, achieve success, and avoid failure.

These are the "Three" traits that I like:

- Being optimistic, friendly, and upbeat

- Being able to recover quickly from setbacks and charging ahead to the next challenge

- Staying informed about what`s going on

- Motivating people

- Being competent and getting things done efficiently

Now, here are the things about being a "Three" that are hard:

- Having to put up with inefficiency and incompetence

- The fear of not being - or of not being seen as - successful

- Comparing myself to others who do things better

- Always being "on" (it`s exhausting)

For a great resource, read "The Enneagram Made Easy" by Renee Baren & Elizabeth Wagele.

So what does all of this mean to you? Go back to my original question: Who motivates the motivator? Basically, you have to do it yourself. I have discovered that as a "Three" the most profitable work I can do is take time to relax and grow. Because of my schedule, I find this difficult to do but I am trying.

I am also learning to measure my worth by my own standards and remember that I am loved for who I am - not for what I do. I try to read as much nondental stuff as I can. I listen to a lot of motivational audiotapes. Mostly, I try to listen to Sue more, because she knows me so well!

Another thing I do is never miss the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dental Practice Administra-tion. This group manages to put on a great meeting year after year. This is a time for me to relax and - because of the many great nondental speakers - to grow. Come join me this year at the Westin La Cantera in San Antonio for the AADPA meeting.

See my Pearls column and the AADPA ad for more details.

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