A little more than a month is left in 2011. For me, it was a year of tragedy, personal loss, healing, closer ties with family, joy, fear for our country, hope for the future, watching our grandchildren grow, waiting, smiling at sunsets and moonrises, restoring a voice, change, investing, new relationships, strengthening old relationships, listening, asking why, forgiving, being happy, traditions, loving one another, and praying.
Now is the time to start planning for next year. Will it be a tumultuous one? Will it be full of promise for you and your loved ones? Will it be a successful one for your business? Does your success depend on others or is it your choice? Will you be different? You will be a year older. Will you change anything? Is the status quo OK? Will you be happy? Will you care for others? Will you love? Will you have a positive attitude about yourself and others? Will you give yourself to others? Will you love what you do? Life is a journey — please enjoy!
At this time of the year, I tend to be retrospective. I tend to remember old friendships in and out of dentistry. I remember my childhood mentors: the nuns who taught me in grade school and the priests who guided me and taught me how to live my faith and the Ten Commandments. I think about the fun I had with friends growing up and forming lifelong friendships. I recall the fun and adventures I had in scouting — a Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley Forge, summer camp in the Ozark Mountains (well, they were more like hills), and a trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in the rugged New Mexico wilderness.
Ieventually went on to become an Eagle Scout and served on a summer camp staff for a couple of years, where I learned life values such as integrity and honesty. It may sound corny, but I still remember my Boy Scout oath: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” And I can still recite the Scout Law: “A Scout is: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” I could hardly go wrong following these values.
Iremember my mentors in my early years of dentistry. There was my family dentist and neighbor, Dr. John Purcell, who helped and guided me for years. Then there was Dr. Roy Wolff, a St. Louis pedodontist, who took me under his wing during my junior year in dental school. He taught me to stand on my own two feet and to be the best that I could be. After two years in the Navy, I started a practice from scratch in St. Louis County, and Roy was a constant companion. He introduced me to the Chicago Midwinter Meeting and continuing education. One of his mantras was to never stop learning. Roy introduced me to the giants of dentistry, and I learned from all of them and became friends with many of them. I believe that this has kept alive my passion for all these years to be the best.
Many dentists and friends ask me how I do all that I do, and when I am going to retire. The answer to the first question is that I married a strong woman who has kept me humble and has loved me for all these years, my wonderful wife, Sue. My personal assistant, Genna, runs my business life. I could not possibly do all that I do without Sue or Genna. As far as retiring, I told an audience in Springfield that I would quit when my talented dental lab owner and technician, David Block, quits. I don’t think I could find another David.
My wish for you in this coming year is to find a mentor in dentistry who will be a guide and a teacher for you. I learned so much from Dr. Omer Reed, things I could take back and immediately implement in my practice. Avrom King taught me the behavioral side of life and dentistry. Terry Goss taught me to apply a lot of his principles through neuro-linguistic programming. Sue helped me to tie all of this together and to become a giver in life rather than a taker. My hope for all of you is a wonderful life with all of God’s blessings!
Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor — email: [email protected]