The importance of confidence

July 1, 2006
Since 1985, Levin Group has had the opportunity to observe and consult to some of the finest practices in dentistry.

Since 1985, Levin Group has had the opportunity to observe and consult to some of the finest practices in dentistry. While many factors contribute to their success, confidence may have been the most important in the long run.

What is confidence?

Confidence is defined by Webster’s as trust or faith, the feeling of assurance. While this may be the functional definition, confidence is far more than just a word. Author Rosabeth Moss Kanter has a very different definition of the word in her book titled “Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End.” A former editor of the Harvard Business Review and an advisor to prominent corporations and community organizations, Kanter says that confidence is “the sweet spot between arrogance and despair - consisting of positive expectations for favorable outcomes.”

I believe that confidence is an attitude, a behavior, or a self-belief that helps define an individual. In dentistry, doctors who have high levels of confidence are willing to take risks, based on their belief that they can achieve their vision and goals.

Where does confidence come from?

Many people will develop confidence after having achieved success on a regular basis. It is fair to say that the majority of dentists are confident in their restorations, crowns, and certain other services. However, are they as confident in their ability to take their practices to the next level?

We have worked with a number of very confident dentists. In one particular case, the doctor, who was from an extremely poor economic background, was determined that his children were not going to live the way he grew up. He was determined to put enough money away to pay for his children’s entire education, as well as their first homes. He was willing to do whatever had to be done to make this happen. At one point, he told us, “If I have to go bankrupt to get this right, then I will do it.”

While I certainly do not suggest bankruptcy as a confidence-builder, it seems that dentists with confidence are willing to take risks to move the practice forward. Many dentists want a perfect world where they will know in advance that any decision will be the right one and how it will work out. This thinking often results in no decisions being made.

Developing confidence is not a step-by-step process. It is learning to believe in yourself and then developing a team of advisors who have the experience and insight to help you accomplish your goals.

Confidence from advisors

Having confidence does not mean you have to make every decision on your own. Highly successful people surround themselves with advisors. The decision-making process for a practice should include a host of different experts including accountants, attorneys, bankers, practice-management consultants, and leadership-development experts. The earlier experts are brought on board to assist a practice, the sooner specific goals will be achieved. Seeking the advice of trusted advisors will increase your confidence and allow you to make decisions faster and be less afraid of risks or unknowns that may exist.

Doctors with confidence also recognize that they will make mistakes. They think more about their batting average than whether or not they have a perfect track record in decision-making. As long as the number of positive decisions outweighs the negative decisions and allows them to achieve their goals, these doctors are more than satisfied.

As a confident client once told us, “I have made mistakes before, I’m making them now, and I know I will make them again. But my successes have far outweighed the number of mistakes and I’m enjoying every day - both in the practice and in my personal life.”


There is no formula for gaining confidence. It comes with experience, the appropriate support, and the right advisors. Although a lucky few seem to be born with unlimited confidence, the rest of us have to acquire it over the course of our lives. But, you can do it!

Confident dentists do not shy away from making decisions that need to be made. These doctors analyze and re-evaluate until they get it right.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is founder and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm that is dedicated to improving the lives of dentists through a diverse portfolio of lifetime services and solutions. Since the company’s inception in 1985, Dr. Levin has worked to bring the business world to dentistry.Levin Group may be reached at (888) 973-0000, or at

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