How your beliefs return to create your personal and professional lives
by Matt Bynum, DDS, and Art Mowery, DMD
For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: beliefs, thought factory, empowering beliefs, professional success, successes in dentistry.
Your mind is a thought factory. And the most powerful thoughts — the ones that determine how you look at the world — are your beliefs. We have identified what we believe are the 10 most important empowering beliefs that return like boomerangs to create our successes in dentistry and in life. In this article, we will present the first of these beliefs — My success is a choice — and the actions that exemplify and reinforce the belief.
Two students are sitting on opposite sides of a small table. A teacher approaches and places one card between them. The card has a word printed on it. The teacher asks student A, on the left side of the table, "What word is printed on the card in front of you?"
Student A answers, "The word is TRUE."
The teacher asks student B, on the right side of the table, "What word is printed on the card in front of you?"
Student B answers, "The word is FALSE."
The students are thoroughly confused. They ask the teacher, "How can this be? We"re both looking at the same card."
The teacher replies, "It is true. You are looking at the same card, but you are looking at it from two different perspectives. The same is true of life. How you look at the world determines what you see."
The author, John Milton, agreed with the teacher's words when he wrote, "The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven." William Shakespeare concurred when he penned, "There is nothing either good or bad except that thinking makes it so."
Belief No. 1 — My success is a choice
One of our favorite quotes is by the American poet Robert Frost: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
When two roads diverge in their woods, most dentists choose the road most traveled. As a result, they do what everybody else does, become instantly average and receive average emotional and financial rewards from their profession.
How boring is that? We're asking you to choose to come with us on the road less traveled. To do that, you may need to say good-bye to a few friends. You will need to step outside your comfort zone and take a few calculated risks. You will need to stand up and dust yourself off if you trip over a rock in the road. But when you reach the mountaintop and look down on the valley where you used to be, you will feel a sense of accomplishment that will make the whole journey worthwhile.
Your sense of accomplishment will be magnified tenfold when you share your joy with your fellow travelers. As an added bonus, if enough of us choose the road less traveled, it will become the road most traveled. Then, our entire profession will benefit.
Two types of choices
There's no doubt that we all start from different places in life. We have different natural talents, and we were raised in different environments. In addition, we desire to go different places in life. It stands to reason that if we start from different places and want to go in different directions, we"re all on different paths.
We define success as the progressive movement down a unique path toward a personalized set of desires. It's important to realize that you don't have to achieve your desires to feel successful, just be moving toward them. The direction and speed you move (or whether you're moving at all) is determined by the thought and behavior choices you make.
Some of your choices move you closer to your desires. We call these Type A choices. Some of your choices move you away from your desires. We call these Type B choices. It was tempting to call the first set of choices the "right" choices and the second set the "wrong" choices, but that wouldn"t be accurate.
Was it "wrong" for Art to choose to work for the corporate dental office after he graduated from dental school? After all, he spent six months of his life practicing dentistry in almost the exact opposite way he's doing now. We believe it was one of the best choices Art ever made because it taught him this valuable lesson early: "This is not how I want to practice dentistry."
Type B choices are an important part of the twisty path to your desires as long as you learn a lesson from the choice and quickly make a new Type A choice. The following three people agree:
I am not discouraged because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward. — Thomas Edison
There are no failures in life. There are only results. — Anthony Robbins
Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out. — John Wooden
Fear — the choice stomper
We believe that fear, and the inaction it creates, is the choice stomper. You can be the most talented and well-meaning dentist in the world, but if you're afraid to make the choices that move you down the path to your desires, you just sit on the bench of life and watch everybody else pass by. After a while, you close your eyes or look away because that makes you feel more comfortable. Some bench-sitters even try to discourage the people walking by. They want company on their bench.
There was a study done by the ADA a few years ago that found almost 70 percent of practicing dentists would not choose dentistry as a profession if they had to do it all over again.
Isn't that an amazing statistic? And very, very sad. Why would people spend huge chunks of their lives doing something they don't enjoy? Why don't they choose to make things better or get out of the profession?
The answer to both of these questions is fear. They fear making a "wrong" choice that will make life worse, or they fear the people around them will react negatively.
As a result, they sit on the bench of life with a whole bunch of other fearful dentists and complain about how bad their practices and lives are.
So what's the antidote for this fear? It's the knowledge that fear is the signal for a growth opportunity. Then it's making a series of Type A and B choices that will enable you to zigzag your way to success.
My motto was always to keep swinging.
Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly
or having trouble off the field,
the only thing to do was keep swinging.
— Baseball legend, Hank Aaron
An easy choice?
It's easy to say, "My success is a choice." But if you continually give excuses for your lack of success, that means you don"t really believe it. Check it out now by answering this question, "If you aren't as successful as you would like to be, what are the reasons why this is so?"
If your answers lie outside yourself (the insurance companies, the people in my community, my office staff, or my debt), that means you believe your lack of success is due to external factors. That may make you feel better for the moment ("Hey, it's not my fault"), but it severely limits your choices in the future.
If your answers lie within yourself, you have empowered yourself to make your practice and life what you choose.
Actions that exemplify empowering Belief No. 1
Below is a list of choices we believe are important to make. We have grouped them into two categories — professional and personal. If needed, add your own choices in both categories. We're just asking you to make your choices now; we're not asking you to develop a detailed plan to achieve them.
Don't overanalyze your choices by thinking about all the reasons why they won't be successful. Just calmly and coolly choose the ways you want to run your practice and live your life.
If you find this exercise difficult to do or if the word "choose" seems strange, congratulations! You really need to do the exercise.
- How many days do you choose to work per year? (Matt chooses to work 120 days. Art chooses to work one day less than Matt.)
- How many hours do you choose to work per day?
- What types of dentistry do you choose not to do anymore?
- What types of dentistry do you choose to do more of?
- How many hours of continuing education do you choose to take each year?
- How many people do you choose to have working with you?
- What kind of people do you choose to have walking in your door for care?
- How do you choose to deal with the insurance companies?
- How do you choose for your office to look?
- On a scale of one to 10, how much do you choose to enjoy your time in the office?
- How much do you choose to net each year?
- On average, how much time do you choose to spend each week with your partner?
- How much time do you choose to spend each week with your family?
- How much time do you choose to spend each week playing sports or exercising?
- How much time do you choose to spend each week on hobbies and/or reading?
- What type of home do you choose to live in?
- What kind of toys do you choose to own?
- How many weeks of vacation do you choose to take each year?
- How much money do you choose to save each year?
- How much do you choose to donate to charities each year?
- On a scale of one to 10, how much do you choose to enjoy life this year?
Florence Shinn said, "The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds, and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy." Truer words were never spoken. In this article, we presented the first of our 10 empowering beliefs — My success is a choice. In a later issue, you will learn Belief No. 3 — I am the best dentist in the area. Meanwhile, begin to throw your boomerangs well by making your personal and professional success a choice.
Matt Bynum and Art Mowery, practicing dentists in Simpsonville, S.C., and Gainesville, Fla., respectively, are featured speakers and clinical instructors at the Las Vegas Institute. They are the authors of the new book, "THE BOOMERANG EFFECT for Dental Professionals: How Your Beliefs Return To Create Your Personal and Professional Lives." Several times each year the two present their "Achieving Extreme Success Program" at various locations in North America. To obtin books or other product information, go to www.bynummoweryway.com. Contact Dr. Bynum at [email protected], or contact Dr. Mowery at [email protected].