Matt Bynum, DDS
"Seize the day! Have you ever thought about what that means? Have you ever stopped long enough to evaluate whether you are really doing all that you can to do just that? My wife, Ann, and I recently had a somewhat morbid conversation about death. The conversation was prompted by Tim McGraw's latest country music release entitled "Live Like You Were Dying." The words of this song are very powerful. Having never really been in a situation where the question of life and death becomes imminent, I sat and fought back tears after hearing the song. After a few minutes, I turned to Ann and asked her what she would do if we learned that I had a limited time left to live. Not knowing quite what to say, she turned and asked me what I would do. I answered that I would "travel and enjoy the company of my family for as long as I could." I will never forget what she said next. It was one of those defining moments in life and in love. Ann turned to me with a serious, yet caring look, and said, "Well, I guess I would travel and enjoy the company of our family with you." Then she smiled at me. I nearly broke down right there.
I have thought about that conversation many times and somehow seem to relate it to the dental profession and those who work in it. We are all faced with similar "defining moments" in life and in our practices on a regular basis. Think about it. Every day that you step foot into your practice you have a choice. You can choose to have a great day or you can choose to have a bad day. You choose the mood and the atmosphere immediately after crossing the threshhold. The team and your patients pick up on this. Your day is determined at that very moment. What will transpire after those first few steps is dictated by you and only you.
Life, just like dentistry, is about choices. I'm a pretty simple guy, so I tend to break things down into simple terms. I believe that there are two principles in life by which we live. You can choose to be proactive or you can choose to be reactive. When the tooth breaks, you fix it. When those defining moments present themselves, you change the course of action and direction of your life. Instead, why not create opportunities to correct the reason why that tooth broke? Why not make your own change create your own destiny? Why not create your own defining moments instead of having them create you? You can "watch" your life just as you can "watch" the decay. The finality is the same for both.
How many people do you know who have worked their entire lives, day in and day out, to save for retirement, only to finally reach that point and really be unable to enjoy it? My dear friend, Art Mowery, defines this as "spending the first half of your life acquiring wealth so you can spend it on the second half acquiring health." I want to enjoy my three boys (Matthew, Luke, and John) in the prime of their lives while I am in the prime of mine. I want to spend as much of my life loving my wife, and living to live instead of waiting to die. I will not stand and wait for something to happen; instead I will make it happen! There are three types of people in the world: those who watch things happen, those who make things happen, and those who wake up one day and wonder "what happened?" Which will you choose to be?
Are you happy where your practice currently is? Are you happy with the type of dentistry you are providing? Are you happy with where you are headed? Are you happy with yourself as a person? These are the questions that need to be asked. Introspection is absolutely the hardest thing to do when determining direction and goal-setting. Yet, the underlying determinant that will shape your current state of affairs and future direction is that difficult look into who and what you are.
With the start of a new year, take some time to reflect on what this past year has meant for you, your family, those who serve with you, and those whom you serve. Take some time to project what you want out of the new year and the future. Take some time to challenge yourself to be better than you ever have been. Take some time to remember why you do what you do for a living. Make that change you have been talking about for years, yet haven't started. Become the dentist, the leader, the husband or wife, the friend, and the person who you have always wanted to be. It's all there for the taking! Will you define your moment or will you wait for the moment to define you? Starting right now, I challenge you to "love what you do, love who you do it with, and love who you do it for." I challenge you to Carpe Diem! Happy holidays to you and your family.
Dr. Matt Bynum lectures internationally on aesthetic and reconstructive dentistry, practice management, motivation, and team building. He is a clinical instructor and featured speaker at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and is co-director and co-founder of the "Achieving Extreme Success" lecture series. Dr. Bynum maintains a full-time private practice in Simpsonville, S.C. Reach him at (864) 297-5585 or Matt@DrMattBynum.com.