Six success secrets

Jan. 1, 2004
When you live in the Midwest, January is hell. I believe that Dante must have been thinking of Indianapolis when he described the lowest circles of his Inferno.

Dr. Michael Gradeless

When you live in the Midwest, January is hell. I believe that Dante must have been thinking of Indianapolis when he described the lowest circles of his Inferno. The endless gray skies, penetrating cold, and periodic ice storms force us all back into our homes like a hunted fox going to ground. Don't feel sorry for us; the time we spend at home allows us to reevaluate our lives and discover what we think is most important.

Many dentists never seem to take time for introspection. January is the time for this. Many people make New Year's resolutions. What are your resolutions? Is this the year you go on your own and purchase or start your own dental practice? Is this the year you transform your practice to the practice of your dreams? Is this the year that you achieve some balance in your life and have more time for your family? Many resolutions are made in January; most are forgotten in February. If you are making resolutions for this year, consider these thoughts I have gleaned from some of the most successful and happy dentists I know.

1)Life is short, live your dream — Dr. Keith Shell. Keith was one of the happiest dentists I have known and he taught me this by dying young. Someday, I may be able to write this story, but not yet. If you are not living your dream, this is the year to change.

2)Your message should always be uplifting — Dr. Joe Blaes. Whatever we think about and talk about expands in our life. We can talk about the problems we have experienced with the economic downturn, or we can focus on the stability of our profession and expand the positive. Maintaining a positive attitude is infectious and will attract positive people around you.

3)Develop friends in dentistry and find a mentor — Dr. Jay Beagle. We can be very isolated as private-practice dentists. The give-and-take conversations with respected colleagues over a good dinner are priceless. The right mentor will inspire you to a level of success you may not have ever considered possible.

4)Money does not buy happiness but the absence of money can buy misery — Dr. Jim Pride.

I have been fortunate to have Dr. Pride as a mentor. In my 10 years of study with the Pride Institute, I learned that having the highest income was not necessarily the measure of the most successful practice. While earning the most money is nice, earning enough money is more important. During his recovery from cancer, Dr. Pride shared with me how comforting it has been to know his family will be comfortable whatever the outcome. In return for how much we care for our patients, we should be able to provide a good income for our families.

5) We all experience problems. Spend less time admiring the complexity of your problems and more time on solutions — Dr. Anoop Sondhi. Change is always difficult and one of the ways we justify our inaction is by deciding that our problem is so difficult and the solution is so complex that we might as well not attempt it. The more complex your problem, the sooner you need to actively start on the solution.

6)Dentistry is a great profession when you can go home at the end of the day knowing that what you do makes a difference in someone's life — Dr. Judy Culver. We save lives by detecting oral cancer, we help people who are in pain, we restore self-esteem with cosmetic dentistry, and we create jobs for our staff. The more we do these things, the happier and more successful we will become.

The new year is always a good time to think about whether we are on track to live our dreams. If your professional life is not fulfilling your dreams, the answer can probably be found somewhere in these six thoughts. The first step to success is finding out what you need to work on!

Dr. Michael Gradeless, a 1980 graduate of Indiana University, practices preventive dentistry in Indianapolis with an emphasis on cosmetics and implants. He is an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University where he teaches the Pride Institute university curriculum of dental management. He is also the editor for the Indiana Dental Association. Contact him at (317) 841-3130 or email to [email protected].

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