Vision, envy, and the Internet

May 1, 2003
In changing times, it is natural to shed the extraneous and seek shelter in core values. Ask yourself in dentistry: Who are we? What do we do? For whom do we do it?

Bill Blatchford, DDS

In changing times, it is natural to shed the extraneous and seek shelter in core values. Ask yourself in dentistry: Who are we? What do we do? For whom do we do it? These introspective questions will help you define even further your own personal vision in dentistry and the individual path for you.

In challenging times, your personal-practice vision is critical to your success and decision-making. Current economics or the niche you have chosen may challenge your vision. Clarity and commitment to stay the course becomes the goal.

Men and women choose to be dentists for a reason. Find that reason. Successful dentists clearly choose their own path and destiny. Vision is not new. From Proverbs, "People without vision will perish." Abraham Lincoln said, "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything." L. D. Pankey said, "First, you must know yourself."

The consistent quality that successful dentists employ is strong vision, which leads to strong leadership and team-building. A common scenario in dentistry is a solid goal to graduate from dental school followed by the next solid goal — to retire. That can mean many years of drifting and shifting. Taking the time to uncover your personal vision rewards you emotionally and financially in dentistry. Sheldon Kopp said, "All of the significant battles are waged within the self."

Vision and your path are very individual. We are all walking bundles of uniqueness. You cannot copy anyone else. You are a product of your parents, your community, your interests, and your strengths. No one else is like you, which brings me to my next point — envy.

There are many dental heroes, each with distinct practices. We all need heroes. I hear dentists say, "I want a practice just like ..." Yet, the envious doctor just sees the end result and wants that now! If you question these doctors with practices of distinction more closely, you will learn what others don't see —-the tremendous amount of soul-searching, tunnels with no cheese, and commitment to their goal that most are not willing to endure to have that practice.

In the majority of cases, doctors with the practices others envy have worked on personal philosophy, presentation, sales skills, internal marketing, external networking and marketing, clinical skills, leadership, staffing ... and so much more. Furthermore, you really can't duplicate someone else's practice. You must create a similar practice that reflects your own personality and culture.

The bottom line is, we all need to be responsible and accountable to ourselves for the results we produce. This brings me to my next point — the Internet. Asking for and receiving advice is a real boon to dentists. I believe dentists who give advice mean well and have no intention to deceive. They genuinely want to help others. The danger lies in recipients believing someone else's experience can be their own. It is the responsibility of the recipient to filter and investigate the message. With a strong personal mission and passion for what you want to accomplish, you can utilize dental forums by incorporating what can work in your town, your goals, your situation, and your dreams.

Without a strong vision, you will drift from one idea to the next, and each project will become a "bad hair day" because nothing will fit together in systems and branding that distinctly identify you. Cruising the dental forums for every answer is like bottom-feeders who grab hold of anything moving and make it their dinner. Before spending funds and implementing new idea, know yourself, your town, your drawing area, and the possibilities. What works in Fargo may not work in a Florida beach town.What works for the dentist across the street from Microsoft might not work in Jerseyville. Be wise in your decisions. Each dentist is a custom design. Be yourself!

Dr. Bill Blatchford's Custom Coaching Program is now available anytime, anywhere. Utilizing 18 years of practice-management experience with over 1,100 offices, Dr. Blatchford's custom program involves minimal travel and maximum personal time with the coach, interaction with other doctors and tons of support. Leadership, systems, case presentation skills, communication and profitability are emphasized. Dr. Blatchford is speaking at Genr8tnext in Miami, Discus Dental in Las Vegas, and Ross Nash's Extravaganza in Williamsburg July 31 to Aug 3. He can be reached at (800) 578-9155 or visit his Web site at

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