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The Tao of Dentistry

Dental Schools (of Thought)

October 1, 2017

Filed under: Article,Happiness,Self-development — Barry @ 9:14 PM

Democracy was born in the middle of the 5th century bce in a little town known as Athens, Greece. I am sure you have heard of it.

Athens at that time was surrounded by the Persian Empire which spanned from Egypt in the west to Turkey in the north, through Mesopotamia to the Indus River in the east.

Sorry for the geography lesson but I am just trying to emphasize how difficult it must have been to try to develop a new political system during that time.

Democracy which literally means rule by the people, required the people to take on new responsibilities, and even though slavery still existed to some degree, it meant that most people were given their right to exercise their new freedom of choice.

In order for people to make the most out of their lives they needed an education system that taught young people the answers to their most pressing questions about “how to live a good life.” So parents sought to find teachers who could give their children a good education. In Athens there were many philosophers and many “schools of thought.”

Many of the teachers were disciples of Socrates, the first philosopher that spoke about the importance of looking inward for the key to happiness. His most famous students were Plato (The Academy) and Aristotle (Lyceum). Take note of the two guys standing front and center in the painting above (School of Athens by Rafael).

There was another disciple, Zeno of Citium. He was the headmaster of his school of thought…the Stoics. Other stoics you may be familiar with are Epictetus, Seneca and the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Zeno’s school taught a philosophy that was divided into three main subject areas: logos, physics and ethos. I know—it’s all Greek to you. Let me explain in modern terms.

Logos—This educational heading included general knowledge. It was believed that in order to become successful in Athens, students would have to understand how to put an argument together in a logical way, and then learn how to express it. This would benefit all those who chose to become lawyers, teachers, politicians and doctors (not many dentists back then).

Today, the subjects included under logos might be communication skills, problem solving, systems thinking, project management and teamwork. Specifically, for dentistry logos might include examination, diagnosis, treatment planning and presentation skills. I am sure most would agree that logos is quite important for success…the Stoics did.

Physics—This heading would be what Napoleon Hill would have called the specific skills for success. This is the area most Greek philosophers focused on before Socrates showed up speaking about the “Unexamined life.” It’s the stuff of science and the external world. In today’s world it’s biology, physics, chemistry, medicine…and all of the basic sciences. These are the subjects that actually make you who you are. Without them you cannot be a doctor or dentist. Yes—very important, and the reason why everyone goes to any school. In dentistry—it’s all technical dentistry.

And finally:

Ethos—This is the area of study that was most useful. It includes the personal skills. These are the skills that the Stoics considered important because they taught young people how to live the good life, or how to achieve eudaemonia. This course of study attempted to answer all of the questions surrounding the big question which is, “How do I live the good life?” In Ancient Greece it was the philosophers who were charged to teach this. Today it is the psychologists and neuroscientists. Some of the skills needed for personal well-being fall under emotional intelligence, resilience and decision-making. How important is ethos today? The Surgeon General once said that the number one healthcare problem in this country is the well-being of physicians…it’s important enough to teach, when the burnout rate of our physicians is approaching fifty percent.

In order to practice complete dentistry we must become complete dentists. Not in the sense that we do comprehensive dentistry but more so in the sense that we make sure everything is considered from the health and well-being of our patients to the health and well-being of ourselves and our careers. This should be the responsibility of the dental education system. Until that responsibility is taken more seriously we will only be offering dentists an incomplete education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Return of Centric Relation

September 12, 2017

Filed under: Technical dentistry — Tags: , — Barry @ 10:11 PM

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…you know that line from Star Wars. Well, in dentistry we had our own version and we called it Jaw Wars.

Many of you who practiced years ago are familiar with the occlusion wars between neuromuscular occlusion, centric relation and some of the lesser known philosophies. I remember getting caught up in endless debates about which occlusal method was better. Then the wars seemed to die down.

Other trends seemed to dominate dentistry. Boy—those were the good old days.

A few weeks ago on one of the more popular Facebook groups I saw a post that discussed the impossibility of being able to find and record a true centric relation position. The comments flowed—just like the old days.

The biggest difference that I noted was that many of the dentists weren’t arguing about which philosophy of occlusion was better but rather the difficulty of finding the position was leading many of the dentists to throw the baby out with the bathwater and abandon any occlusal philosophy.

I wondered why? The principles of occlusion hadn’t changed. But dentistry has changed. The way dentists practice today has drastically been altered. 

For whatever the reasons, it’s not a good idea to abandon a philosophical approach to dentistry because there are forces that are difficult to control...like the economy, third parties or corporate policies.

I remember debating with a “cosmetic dentist” about his article The Truth About CR. It was a heated debate that was carried on in the dental trade magazines. Today, I look back and wonder if it was about centric relation at all…or was it really about a philosophy of practice.

I liken it the question people ask about “what is the worst breakfast you can eat?” The answer is “no breakfast” is the worst breakfast. In dentistry – what is the worst occlusal philosophy? That’s right…no philosophy is the worst philosophy.

Occlusion is the foundation of complete dentistry. Too many dentists have focused on tooth dentistry and the current trends as they have relinquished control and their freedom of choice to the third parties.

A coherent philosophy of practice – and of life is still within the control of each and every one of us. If we all exercised that right, then maybe we can do something to bring dentistry back to the good old days.

 

Dentistry That Lasts

August 6, 2017

 

I started practicing dentistry in 1973…that’s 44 years ago. A lot has happened in those years. We went from the predominance of amalgam to chiefly metal free restorations. From bridgework to implants. I saw the advent of new materials, new equipment and all kinds of new technology.

Some of it, like veneers and implants, and digital radiographs changed dentistry. Other advances are now obsolete like air abrasion for cavity preparation. And some had questionable benefits, like computerized local anesthesia.

No matter how long you have been in dentistry I am sure you have seen many trends and fads come and go. That is why the best dentistry is principle centered dentistry.

I recently read a post on Facebook by an older very prominent dentist who confessed that as he got older he was becoming frustrated when he saw some of his work failing. He blamed it on patient’s non-compliance I sympathized with him. I too have gotten older and see the same phenomenon.

Years ago I bought into the idea of doing “predictable” dentistry – or dentistry that lasts. I came to realize through some pretty good mentors that the only way to get there was to do comprehensive relationship based dentistry. I was so taken by that concept that I wrote my first book, The Art of the Examination which spelled out the entire system. It’s that philosophy that attempts to create dentistry that lasts – not any trend or fad such as digital radiographs or lasers.

Younger dentists these days are enamored with the latest technology. The newer practices promote the latest fads and technologies rather than focus on great diagnosis, treatment planning and creating strong high quality relationships.

I came of age in dentistry when perennialism ruled. In other words we were taught everlasting principles that could create success through many generations. Preventative dentistry for example is a perennial philosophy. For those who have been around, I think you understand what I mean by some of the changes we see.

Less and less people see the dentist regularly. More and more full mouth implant cases are being done these days. Sure–a lot has happened culturally, politically and economically, but I still believe that comprehensive relationship based dentistry holds the answers to this cultural mismatch.

Comprehensive relationship based dentistry that is based on human universals which are features of a culture, society, behaviors, and psyche that stay consistent through time and place. These include leadership, trust, empathy and storytelling among many others.

We tend to throw the term comprehensive relationship based dentistry around as if it has lost its meaning. If we want to do our jobs properly with a sense of duty then we must do this type of dentistry.

Comprehensive means complete. If we do complete dentistry it starts with a complete exam in order to uncover every single etiologic factor of disease. Everyone knows that…it’s the practicing that makes it difficult. I am sure the dentist I mentioned above practices comprehensively.

It’s the second part—the relationship-based part where things get sticky. This is the part, I believe, that dentists truly have let go. Fully understanding and taking the time to create and maintain strong relationships is less common today than ever before. The cultural mismatch.

If the dentist is experiencing frustration because his or her work is failing because of non-compliance, then this can’t get fixed with more technical advances. These are relationship issues. These are leadership and communication issues. That is why it is impossible to do comprehensive dentistry with the human factor.

Dentistry is changing. The profession needs to step up from within. I see major gaps in thinking between the older generation of dentists and the younger dentists just starting out. There has been a paradigm shift. Blog posts and social media groups are questioning the future of dentistry.

Please weigh in with your feelings – what have you experienced and what do you see happening as we go into the future?

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Dentistry

July 19, 2017

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Uncategorized — Barry @ 10:20 AM

 

I keep getting asked the same question over and over again these days.

And I don’t like it.

You see, I am very sensitive about the way I look. I think I am in great shape, and I feel better than ever…the results of eating well, going to the gym and doing hot Yoga six days per week. I will be 70 years old at my next birthday…but…

My patients keep asking me when I am going to retire. They need to stop that! But really I have some mixed emotions about it.

On the one hand, I wonder why, all of a sudden patients are saying things like, “Hey Doc, you have to let me know when you’re going to retire,” or “Doc, I hope you give me plenty of notice before you retire so I can find another dentist.”

I wonder if they are just doing the math, because I don’t look or act any older. It’s happening so often that it is beginning to bother me. But I should be flattered.

After forty two years of practice what they are really saying (at least how I interpret it) is, “Thanks for taking care of me for all of these years.” In essence they are expressing the idea that they need me and that they appreciate me.

And that’s nice.

So often I hear how dentistry is a thankless profession. Sure there are those who thank us for specific things, and there are those patients who are naturally very grateful, but mostly we do our work without getting the recognition. And I am not speaking about that big beautiful cosmetic case. I am talking about everyday routine dentistry.

It’s nice to know that working hard for so many years to develop a relationship based practice, that the reward is the greatest reward of all…being needed, having practiced with a purpose for so many years. When I look around dentistry today, with the growth of insurance based practices and corporate dentistry I see these rewards diminishing in favor of transactional dental relationships – or strictly functional relationships.

Practicing dentistry with meaning and purpose is one of its greatest rewards. More than money – meaning and purpose will keep the dentist and staffs practicing longer and staying healthier and living longer. Research has shown that meaningful work can add years to your life.

So I come to work everyday and get greeted by my patient-friends who remind me daily how much being their dentist has meant to them, then I go on social media and get reminded how modern dentistry is today. I marvel at our technical advances yet see how much less human we have become. I see dentists flexing their muscles, showing off their beautiful cases but I wonder if they truly understand the longterm value and meaning of the relationships – or is it just about the teeth?

I see cases with no sense of diagnosis and treatment planning. I see cases presented by “financial people” who never get to understand the patients real needs and desires. I see some nice dentistry. I see some lousy dentistry but mostly I see evidence of people not being understood at a level this profession should be doing.

We could do better. Dentistry used to do a lot better. That is why I stayed “old school.” Maybe my patients are also saying something else…not only that they need me but that we truly miss the way dentists used to be…before these modern times.

 

 

 

 

What Good is Philosophy?

July 11, 2017

Filed under: Happiness,Positive Psychology,Self-development — Tags: — Barry @ 10:11 PM

 

 

Throughout my career in dentistry I have been known as a “philosopher.”  While many of my colleagues focused on technical dentistry in order to find fulfillment and success in dentistry, I read the works of Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius and Anthony Robbins looking for answers to life’s biggest questions. Just about everything I ever wrote offered a philosophical point of view.

And most people didn’t like it. One friend, many years ago, told me that philosophy just doesn’t sell. Yet I always believed in what the great motivational speaker, Jim Rohn once said, “your personal philosophy is the greatest determining factor in how your life works out.” It seemed the more I spoke about philosophy, the more I annoyed people. Just ask my kids.

But I am hooked, so I continue to look for the answers to some of my biggest questions about life and work. I just happened to be a dentist so my work is dentistry.

Three of the biggest influences in my life have been Dr. L.D. Pankey’s philosophy which is based on Aristotle and the Greeks, Abraham Maslow and the humanistic psychology movement and most recently the work of Martin Seligman and positive psychology. The problem that I saw with all of these was not in the analytics or thought processes, but mostly in the application. In other words…how do you bring this stuff to real life?

Pankey’s philosophy was great. Once I learned to know myself, my patient and my work…I was still lost. The biggest void came in the “apply your knowledge” arm of his Cross. Maslow really turned my head around because now I understood why I couldn’t take the next steps without fulfilling basic needs. And until I had enough of the lower needs I couldn’t move up the hierarchy. Marty Seligman’s PERMA model was the one that really opened my eyes because now I finally knew that philosophy was based in real science. My last book, Short Guide to a Long Career explains his PERMA model in detail- and how to apply it in dental practice.

Seligman recently added a “V” to his model. It stands for VITALITY.

And the “V” ends up being a key to the whole puzzle of application.

When one reads his Well-Being Theory, there is an implication that we follow it as it reads—P-E-R-M-A-V. Maybe that’s just because I am a dentist and see life very linearly…dentists like step-by-step instructions.

Allow me to digress. Those of you who have read The Art of the Examination know that I am a type 2 diabetic. I have been for thirty years, and for all of those years I have controlled my blood sugar with diet and exercise.

But no longer. I recently went on insulin. No biggie…really. When you go on insulin it forces you to become even more aware of the cellular and micro-changes of diet and exercise. I now pay much more attention to basic biochemistry—yes I now realize just how philosophically important the Krebs Cycle is to all of our lives. Metabolism – is the key to our lives and our vitality.

Metabolism is the key to our energy – and how we create and spend our energy is how we live our lives. Most of us concentrate on managing time and money to create successful lives…but I implore you that the payoffs are much greater when we focus on managing our energy.

Throughout my entire career, looking back, it was high amounts of positive energy that was responsible for most of my successes.

So what is the lesson here? That the V…the Vitality module of Marty Seligman’s Well-Being Theory is the starting point for a successful life. The V includes diet, exercise, mindfulness meditation and sleep hygiene. Once the V is covered, you will have the energy to exercise more willpower to make better choices and focus on being more optimistic, more resilient, applying more effort and more grit, better focus and concentration in developing better skills, using your strengths, building better and more fulfilling connections, working with meaning and purpose…and of course…accomplishing much more.

 

 

Do You Have to be Happy to be Successful?

April 17, 2017

Filed under: Happiness,Pankey,Positive Psychology — Barry @ 1:41 PM

 

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only expressing personal opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

 

 

This is my first blog post in a long while. I bet many of my readers thought I just quit blogging. That is not in my nature…let me explain.

I just completed an eight month certification in positive psychology. It was intense. Most people truly don’t understand what positive psychology is all about.

On the night I received my certification we had dinner with friends of ours. I told them that I had completed my certification and the my friend started talking about positive psychology as if she were an expert. Then she asked how I could be a positive psychologist because I wasn’t so positive…or even happy for that matter.

For those of you who have read my book, A Short Guide to a Long Career (free download), you know that positive psychology is much more than being about finding bliss (although that is part of it). It’s about living the life worth living. It’s about living the good life.

Anyway, I went on to explain to my friend that positive psychology was more about living the good life. More about fulfillment than pleasure than the smiley face. The good life is more than just having fun. It is about building good days, one after the other so that we can accomplish what author Annie Dillard says: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Our well-being is mostly composed of our work, how we spend our time and who we spend our time with. In other words, what we do for a living, and who we do it with matters. When we ask ourselves the very important question, “what really matters?” our answers usually reflect work, family friends and service.

So, no…positive psychology is not just happiology.

I first became interested in positive psychology when I went to the Pankey Institute many years ago. L.D. Pankey was onto something when he created his “philosophy.” My gut tells me he would have been very interested in studying positive psychology which wasn’t defined until 1998 by Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania.

He put science to philosophy and created the psychology of optimal human functioning…or how to flourish. Yes…today most of Pankey’s philosophy is backed by empirical evidence…and there are so many new ways to apply the knowledge.

Practical application is the key to any philosophy – and that is where most philosophy falls apart.

I meet so many people who do not put a lot of stock into the “softer,” human side of  work. Today there is an overemphasis on technology. They think the soft stuff–the fuzzy stuff is just pop psychology.

After finishing my certification I can tell you that dentistry needs to take this very seriously…for the well-being of every professional as well as the well-being of the profession itself.

Not only have I completed this program but I also completed another book which should be available in the Fall. The book is titled The Complete Dentist–Positive Leadership Skills for Success.

Yes–I have been busy, but I will be bringing you more and more articles and information on this very important topic. It just may be the key to your own career and well-being.

 

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Reach for a Better Thought

October 26, 2016

Filed under: Happiness,Leadership,Positive Psychology — Barry @ 12:41 PM

nigel-holmes-graphicThe first piece of advice that comes from Dale Carnegie’s seminal book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, is don’t condemn, don’t complain and don’t criticize. In other words be happy and stay positive.

Carnegie published the book in 1936, and it has gone on to sell over 30 million copies. The book went on to be named #19 on Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential books in 2011. The book may be responsible for launching the entire self-help industry. And his first piece of advice was about mental attitude.

I come into contact with so many people in so many professions and industries that have read the books and taken the courses – yet, I still hear so much criticism, complaints and condemnation. Especially these days. You can bet that if you have a stressful work-life there is plenty of complaining going on.

I assume if it were that easy then we would have happier people working in happier workplaces. I also guess that happiness must be in high demand if so many people have been spending their hard earned money on the search for joy.

Maybe they’re just going about it in the wrong way.

My recent blog posts have centered around my latest book, A Short Guide to a Long Career, which you can download free from this blog. This post is about improving your point of view which may just be a better starting point for happiness than trying to remember never to complain, condemn or criticize. I am a big fan of simple ideas that I can create habits of thought around…let me explain.

Tip #3 in  my Short Guide suggests that we improve our point of view. You know, as the famous guru once said, When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” 

The problem is that is hard to change the way we look at things. I love the idea of reducing complex ideas into simple rules of thumb. This is known as a heuristic which is defined as “Pertaining to the use of the general knowledge gained by experience, sometimes expressed as “using a rule-of-thumb.”

And heuristics can make our lives easy…if we can pull up the right rule at the right time. That’s why studying what truly creates positive emotions and happiness is more effective. Once we know what creates happiness and success then we can use our rules of thumb to create habits that will guide us on how to live a happy life.

And it all starts with mindset.

If you are unfamiliar with that word, or use it like just another common piece of your vocabulary, then I suggest you read Carolyn Dweck’s very remarkable book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

It’s a good starting point for those of us who fall into the “oh so human” trait of negativity through judgement which leads to —complaining, criticizing and condemnation.

In time we develop a more positive worldview or perception of how really is rather than some of the negative explanations we create that lead us down a gloomy path.

Dweck’s research led her to describe two basic mindsets: the fixed mindset which is also called the judging mindset, and the growth mindset. I won’t spoil this movie, but I will tell you that the growth mindset is preferred.

Short Guide to a Long Career centers around the growing field of positive psychology. After studying this field for the past ten years, I have enrolled in The Flourishing Center’s program for becoming certified in positive psychology. I am realizing the truth in what Michelangelo said after his career was over: “I’m still learning.”

I guess that is what is meant by having a learning mindset. But it’s not just about dentistry (or any vocation)…we really have two tasks—to learn an occupation that we love and to be a good person.

So if you don’t download my book – and you find yourself complaining, criticizing and condemning —here’s a little heuristic to get you through your days whenever you realize that your thoughts are making you feel bad:

Reach for a better thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Questions? What’s Your Role? SGLC 2

September 12, 2016

Filed under: Happiness,Leadership,SGLC — Tags: , — Barry @ 10:37 PM

Short Guide to a long career

I hope you are enjoying my new book, A Short Guide to a Long Career, if you haven’t downloaded your free copy, go ahead and do it now.

My last blog post revealed what the book is about: creating a career that provides the dentist with a vehicle to help him or her to thrive and flourish through their years in dentistry, using Dr. Martin Seligman’s Well-Being Theory—PERMA, which stands for:

  1. P-Positive Emotions
  2. E-Engagement
  3. R-Positive Relationships
  4. M-Meaning and Purpose
  5. A- Accomplishment

This past July I had the opportunity to go to the first-ever festival for positive education. I believe I was the only dentist in attendance. I got to meet some of the superstars of this burgeoning new field, including Dr. Martin Seligman himself.

I came away excited about the future of positive education. I truly believe, as Seligman states, we are looking at a “sea change” in education that will help young people to become the very best versions of themselves. I was excited because this is the heart of what I have been writing about for years.

There is no reason that we can’t bring positive psychology principles to dentistry…and medicine.

So excited that I enrolled to get my Certification in Positive Psychology.

But I digress. This blog post is about the most recent tips that were e-mailed to those who have downloaded A Short Guide to a Long Career. I want to discuss Tips 1 and 2 through the lens of PERMA.

The first Tip: Ask Yourself the Big Questions: – Dentists are obsessed with “how” to do things. I’m no different than most – I constantly seek out advice on “how” to do this new procedure or that new technique. The problem is that most of us don’t take the time to answer the bigger questions. Like why we even entered our career (yes, this isn’t restricted to dentistry).

I remember the first amalgam filling I ever did (over forty years ago). I remember how proud I was. So proud that I called my father to tell him. He asked me how long it took – I said two hours. He said, “How are you going to make a living doing that?”

That’s a true story. The problem is that it created a lens through which I looked at my entire career. Until I burned out.

Then I asked the deeper questions—like what is it besides money, that I need to get from dentistry?  I started asking the deeper questions after I was in dentistry for ten years. The answers are still coming.

There are plenty of people in dentistry who seem to have the answers – but it’s the ones who have the best questions that interest me more.

The biggest question for me is, “how can I reconcile the paradox between duty and desire?” To be a wonderful competent dentist and still create a great life. It’s a paradox we all must answer.

Tip 2- Establish Your Role:- Another speaker I heard at the positive psychology meeting was Dr. James Pawelski, the Director of Education at the Positive Psychology Center at University of Pennsylvania. He presented his famous thought experiment that you can see on You Tube if you like – it’s well worth the time.

The thought experiment asks us to consider if we were going to be super-heroes, what color cape would you choose to wear?

The choices are red and green. He tells us that if you choose the red cape then your role starts out as you having the power to fight against the bad things in our world. That’s pretty powerful in itself.

If you choose the green cape you have the power to grow good things in our world.

You must choose as part of the thought experiment. I sat there smiling to myself because as a dentist I thought how this fundamental question means so much to the role we play with our patients.

Either color works, and Pawelski has some advice (hint-reversible cape?).

As I said, it is worth going to YouTube to watch his presentation, but he also claims that the red cape/green cape paradox answers the fundamental principles of positive psychology.

The real question for me is: can I flourish and become the best version of myself (and can my patients?)- if I only wear the red cape and put out fires all day.

Think about it — Tips 1 and 2 are meant to get you thinking about that long career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can Being Positive Help Grow Your Practice? SGLC 1

August 26, 2016

Short Guide to a long careerHello again! It has been a long time since my last blog post – and a lot has happened in the world. I promise not to give you any of my political opinions – that would be a short guide to a very short career.

In the meantime I want to let you know that the TAO of Dentistry is alive and well. I have been working on a new book project, and it has taken up significant time. I also published my third book, an e-book, that is available for free when you join the Academy of Dental Leadership. The e-book, A Short Guide to a Long Career is also the title of this blog post.

For those who have already downloaded the book, I will be discussing the 31 tips that get e-mailed to you every two weeks or so. There is so much packed into that little book that when I re-read it I thought I had so much more to say – and besides I would love to hear from the dental community on how to create a thriving sustainable dental career.

I have decided to add commentary to Short Guide to a Long Career, through a series of blog posts beginning with this one. The titles of the post will be numbered to follow the e-mails that subscribers receive.

As I mentioned, for the past months I have been writing another book on leadership and communication. I have also furthered my education in Positive Psychology. Those two things have added to my own perspective about creating a long sustainable career in dentistry.

Essentially the relatively new field of positive psychology comes down to helping people “live a life worth living.” It is about thriving and flourishing rather than just surviving and languishing. Positive psychologists work in all domains from the military to medicine to education. While studying positive psychology, I couldn’t help but think about the philosophy of Dr. L.D. Pankey.

For so many years I referred to what I learned at the Institute as a “philosophy.” That word isn’t very exciting. Dentists would fall asleep whenever I invoked words like “philosophy,” “virtues,” or “Aristotle.” But throughout history from Lao-Tzu and Aristotle to Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, it’s truly only been about living a life worth living.

The positive psychologists have backed all of the “philosophy and psychological principles” up with real science. In other words – this stuff works–it’s real.

My book is about how to make your career in dentistry worth doing – long term.

Dentistry has changed. There is still plenty of opportunity in dentistry. Try to remember why you went into dentistry. No better yet…imagine the day you were born. Imagine what your parents wanted for you more than anything else. Now think about the day you leave dentistry…is there anything you will regret. This book is about helping you find what it is you want from your work in this field – yes it’s more than money. But achievement is there as well. It’s about Martin Seligman’s Well-Being Theory and PERMA—

Download the book…let’s discuss PERMA and well being through the comments below. Let’s also discuss the Commitment Equation.

Dr. Madoff I Presume

February 8, 2016

Filed under: Ethics,Leadership,Philosophy — Tags: — Barry @ 2:30 PM

th-5

 

I don’t watch much TV these days, but last week I found myself watching two made-for-TV specials, one about Bernie Madoff and the other about O.J. Simpson.

Most would agree that these two were possibly the greatest monsters of our time. Most of us got to witness the behaviors of these two men. Madoff was particularly interesting to me because we came from the same town, and we went to the same high school.

My brother-in-law was in his graduating class. And Peter Madoff, Bernie’s brother was the president of my college fraternity.

Yes…they walked among us.

No real surprises there, but something struck me about the screenplay. Three times during the show Bernie Madoff repeated the line: “Trust is the basis for all long-term relationships.” Most of us who watched it heard the line because it was repeated again and again.

But most of us probably let it go by like a sudden chill in the room, or a fleeting pain.

Not me. This blog is about Trust, Appreciation and Ownership, and I have been writing about the importance of trust for dentists, in every human interaction…it is not only the basis of all long-term relationships, but the entire substructure of any well-functioning organization from a family to a country to a planet.

A few days later I got a phone call from a dentist who questioned what would happen if Bernie became a dentist, or a doctor rather than going to Wall Street. It could have happened considering his socioeconomic background.

Now, granted people like O.J. and Bernie are special cases…people who totally lack even a trace of empathy, and we all know that the opposite, people like like Mother Theresa, are just as rare.

So they don’t shock me.

What shocks me is the public’s reaction…to the SEC. The SEC is a government agency that is set in place to protect the public.

Who can we trust if we can’t trust those who are there to protect us? My friend, the dentist, was saying that we see this in our profession all the time…frtom every angle…the dentists, government, corporations, insurance companies and even the public itself.

In 1979, during the more idyllic days of dentistry, I traveled to Los Angeles to hear a presentation of alternative ways to deliver dental care. This one discussed the new retail dental office concept that was being set up in L.A. The first one was in a Sears store in El Monte California, a small industrial town just east of Los Angeles.

Two very polished salesmen spent two days trying to convince dentists that this was the future of dentistry. They were brothers, very well trained and very convincing. I left L.A. with a bad taste in my mouth…not because of the business model, but because of the way they objectified patients.

That was in 1979. I lost track of that concept, but not the language that I continued to hear over the last 35 years, from non-dentists and dentists alike who have objectified the patient experience and used trust as their method to persuade.

Very effective…and unethical. A paradox that would make anyone shiver.

Trust…the force that can be used for good or evil. We can choose to be Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader…yet mostly we sleepwalk through these choices.

I have witnessed dentists and doctors using the force for good and evil…it all comes down to —who are you?

For years, we in dentistry have seen outsiders take what used to be a “noble” ethical profession and turn it into business as usual. Who protected the profession?

Certainly not the dentists. Most went along with the status quo. I wonder why? Because we sure express our displeasure to each other.

Certainly not the insurance companies or corporations. They only talk about the human side of dentistry but continue to look at numbers and take away our autonomy- in one way or another.

And most important…not the patients. Many actually are crying out for more of the same.

At the end of the Madoff movie there was a voice-over as Bernie, thinking he was innocent, was blaming the system…the SEC, the public who he cheated because they wanted to make money because of their own greed.

He has a point…yes, my dental friends…we see this playing out everyday.

 

 

 

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