Laws for lifetime growth

Oct. 1, 2002
"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Yukon."
"Yukon who?"
"Yukon grow for a lifetime."

Paul Homoly, DDS

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Yukon."
"Yukon who?"
"Yukon grow for a lifetime."

The most successful dentists are those who continuously grow. Everyone knows someone who has a great attitude, a contagious enthusiasm, a keen alertness, a natural openness, and agile adaptability. These people have a set of basic attitudes and habits that keep them fresh and innovative. Are you one of those people? If not, here are the "Laws for Lifetime Growth," adapted from the work of Dan Sullivan, founder of the Strategic Coach Program.

No. 1 — Make your future bigger than your past. A bigger future is essential for lifetime growth. Your past is rich with experiences that can become raw material for creating an even bigger future.With this attitude, you'll have a desire for even better, more enjoyable experiences; you'll separate yourself from situations and relationships that can trap you in the past. Your future does not have to be an extension of your past. Use the past as a foundation for what lies ahead. See your future as being bigger than your past, and it will be.

No. 2 — Make your contribution greater than your reward. Increasing your contribution to others is a key for lifetime growth. As your practice becomes more successful, rewards will come your way — income, praise, awards, recognition. These rewards can be growth-stoppers. They can tempt you to focus on the rewards, rather than on making greater contributions. Don't overfocus on the rewards. Instead, focus on making greater contributions such as elevating your standard of care, mentoring, service, leadership, giving, etc. Greater rewards will automatically follow from this.

No. 3 — Make your learning greater than your experience. Look at life as a school and experiences as lessons, and what you learn will always be greater than your experiences. The smartest people are those who can transform the smallest event into breakthroughs in thinking and action. Dentistry is rich with experiences that can serve as lessons for all of life.

No. 4 — Make your gratitude greater than your success. Your successes come from the assistance of many people. Focus on appreciating and thanking them, and you will continue to grow and succeed. Those who stop growing often cut themselves off from people who have helped them. They see themselves as the sole creator of their achievements. As they become more self-centered and isolated, they lose their creativity and ability to succeed. When you continually acknowledge others' contributions, you'll create room in your heart and mind for more growth.

No. 5 — Make your enjoyment greater than your effort. Approach life with a sense of play. To keep growing requires increasing enjoyment from your work. Many high-achieving dentists will brag about how hard they work and how much they've sacrificed for success. This behavior can be a psychological weapon over those who don't put in an equal effort. But this arrogant attitude also makes them boring to themselves and others, preventing them from being more creative and useful. Creativity in all fields is linked to playfulness — the desire to do things just for the fun of it! This increased enjoyment of our work is essential for lifetime growth.

No. 6 — Make your confidence greater than your comfort. Increased confidence is crucial to lifetime growth. Many of us start out as dreamers and risk-takers, but when we become successful, we start seeking greater security and comfort as the main goal. This attitude puts us to sleep motivationally, and we lose confidence. Treat any increase of comfort in your life as only a temporary bridge for setting higher goals. Strive for greater achievement and your confidence always will be greater than your comfort.

"The Laws for Lifetime Growth" are worth reviewing at staff meetings and posting in a conspicuous area. One of the first tests of leadership is to develop the team around you. These laws are a big step in that direction.

Dr. Paul Homoly coaches dental teams to implement reconstructive dentistry through his continuing-education workshops, private consulting, and seminars. This column is an excerpt from his new book, Isn't It Wonderful When Patients Say Yes? — Case Acceptance for Complete Dentistry. Dr. Homoly can be reached at (704) 342-4900 or via email at [email protected]. Visit his Web site at www.paulhomoly.com.

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