Th 154584

Just luck?

July 1, 2004
What you think is real is your reality. What do you believe?

By Jerry Burns, DDS

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During a local continuing-education program on veneers and a high-end cosmetic practice, a colleague said that the lead lecturer was just "a lucky man" and that he could never see himself in a high-end practice like the lecturer described, but he wished he could. I immediately thought, "Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are probably right."

Why some can ... and some can't

This encounter prompted my thinking about why some succeed in dentistry and life or both, and others do not. Is it because successful people are in "perfect" locations and have "perfect" verbal and clinical skills? Is it really because they are outgoing, honest, and "beautiful" with "perfect" staffs and patients? For a handful of people, yes, this might be true — although I can't think of any. Successful people believe in their goals and successes long before they accomplish them. They visualize themselves in successful situations. They don't waste time or energy thinking anything else. Their minds simply do not know otherwise.

I have developed friendships with many successful dentists. Through these relationships, I have learned their secret: their realities are different than those of their contemporaries. They possess standards of success much higher than the general population, and they believe they can meet those standards. They know that what you believe is real becomes your reality. They think, act, and speak in accordance with their aspirations and goals. They weren't born any better than anyone else, however, their thought patterns — which become their realities — are several steps higher up on the possibility ladder. They don't have limiting beliefs.

The limiting belief

My colleague had a limiting belief system. His potential to grow was limited by his belief that he could not reach that level of success. The human mind filters out possibilities that do not substantiate the belief system of the individual. For example, this particular dentist knows the stories of the few hundred — if not thousands — of dentists who are not succeeding for every one of the "lucky" ones who are. He has heard many accounts of Joe Dentist who has the dental boutique "pop-up-in-a-day" practice that fails. He can't fathom investing the thousands of dollars required to obtain the education needed for a high-end, successful practice. His mind only sees his beliefs, and therefore he is completely blind to other possibilities.

The Wright brothers

Only 100 years ago, humans could not fly. This was the reality of the world. Then, two brothers with different realities came along. When they made their pronouncement, most people scoffed, "Impossible!" The concept of humans flying was outside their realities. It was not, however, outside the realm of possibilities for the Wright brothers. They set their standards above the norm and believed they could fly. Because of this will, they found the way and changed the world forever.

Changing your limiting beliefs

So, you decided to change your limiting belief system. Congratulations, you just completed the most difficult step — the first one. Where do you start? The next step is to decide what you want and what your new standards will be. Assume all things are possible. What will you choose for yourself? What kind of dental practice do you want? What is your definition of success? Where do you see yourself? Reach out and set new goals. This is not limited to your profession or business — process these thoughts for every aspect of your life, then raise your standards with the belief that you will meet them.

Believing

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have. Whatever you believe is real is your reality. Our beliefs are similar to unquestioned commands. They tell us how things are, or the way things should be or could be, what is possible and what is not possible, and most important — what we can or cannot do. If you don't believe, you sabotage yourself before you begin. You must be certain that you can and will meet your new standards prior to embarking on the journey.

But how can you believe when you really believe you can't? My colleague believed he couldn't do it. How do you change your beliefs? There is only one way to change thoughts and beliefs — daily practice. Remind yourself over and over what your new beliefs are. Don't allow yourself to entertain contradictory beliefs. This can be done through reminder notes on your mirror, calendar, or daily planner — even in your car. Repeat your beliefs in your mind and to others — even aloud when no one is around. When the "I can't" sneaks back to the forefront, push it away with a louder "I can."

Finding the way

Once you set your raised standards and believe in your potential to meet them, you must research and discover strategies to get you there. The best way to do this in almost any situation is to find role models.

Don't try to reinvent the wheel; this frequently results in frustration and wasted time and energy. Find examples of people who are doing what you want to do. Spend time with them. If this is not possible, read what they write; listen to what they say; learn from them. Then follow their examples. Role models will help you when that familiar little voice inside your head tells you that you have raised your standards beyond your reach. Your new mentors will reinforce your new beliefs (because they are living proof that it can be done) and help you achieve your new goals more quickly. If your goal is to have a $1 million practice and work only three days a week, surround yourself with dentists who already do this. If you want a highly successful practice in a blue-collar, insurance-driven town, find the successful dentists there. If you want to educate and change the lives of thousands of dentists, find those who do. Use these gurus' successes and failures to guide you to your own dreams. Ask, "What if?" Seek positive influences, ignore the negative ones, and most of all, believe that succeeding is real so it becomes your reality.

And be careful about what you ask for — you just might get it.

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