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TAO the Book Installment 9 Culture is the Key

August 8, 2010

Filed under: TAO - The Book — Barry @ 10:17 PM

The nice thing about dentistry is that you have the opportunity to choose your own culture based on your own set of values.  I am fond of the expression by Boston Philharmonic maestro, Ben Zander: “It’s all invented anyway.” In his book The Art of Possibility, he describes the meaning of that expression:

“The frames our minds create define — and confine — what we perceive to be possible. Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view. Enlarge the box, or create another frame around the data, and problems vanish, while new opportunities appear. 

This practice we refer to by the catch-phrase, it’s all invented, is the most fundamental of all the practices we present in this book. When you bring to mind it’s all invented, you remember that it’s all a story you tell — not just some of it, but all of it. And remember, too, that every story you tell is founded on a network of hidden assumptions. If you learn to notice and distinguish these stories, you will be able to break through the barriers of any “box” that contains unwanted conditions and create other conditions or narratives that support the life you envision for yourself and those around you. We do not mean that you can just make anything up and have it magically appear. We mean that you can shift the framework to one whose underlying assumptions allow for the conditions you desire. Let your thoughts and actions spring from the new framework and see what happens.”
What type of practice do you want? I see so many dentists these days struggling with defining their practices.  They have family practices, cosmetic practices, insurance driven practices, preventive practices, holistic practices, and my favorite, the spa practice.  I wonder how many dentists actually thought about defining their practices based on their values? I chose to have a comprehensive care practice based not only on my values but also on my personal concept of health.


  1. I think it is good also to make every attempt to structure your practice based upon your own lifestyle values as well. If you are a busy, driven dentist not requiring much sleep or time away from the office, then a high-volume practice would suite you. However, contrary to what some practice consultants may have us believe, this style of practice is not for everyone!

    Comment by Edward Logan — October 7, 2010 @ 12:41 PM

  2. I think practice consultants and coaches go awry in advising “practice styles” before doing an in depth assessment of the values, beliefs and lifestyles of the individual dentist. Our practices do not exist in a vacuum, they are part of our lives, and they serve a purpose.
    Thanks for the comment.

    Comment by Barry — October 8, 2010 @ 6:46 PM

  3. As an old-timer, my practice has evolved a lot over the years. From what I have observed, dentists create their practices based on two ways of seeing the world. (or frames of reference, to use the article’s terminology). First is the dentist who is externally focused or “object referred” as Deepak Chopra might say. This dentist is fear-based and the practice changes based on the current hot topic in dentistry, whether cosmetics, insurance, technology or whatever. This dentist does what he does because he is afraid to do anything else. The second type is the practice that is consciously created as a reflection of the philosophy/values of the dentist. The dentist is self-referred and intentionally creates the practice he wants. It’s not driven by the insurance company or the need to have Cerec machine or the desire to do cosmetics because it’s the hot thing at the moment. I’ve been fortunate to evolve from the first type to the second type as my own personal evolution took place. It is certainly a different world in terms of practice satisfaction and personal happiness.

    Comment by Dave Nibouar — November 28, 2010 @ 10:04 PM

  4. Dave, the old-timer in you has given you the wisdom to really get in touch with your values. I know we are about the same age and I struggle to make younger dentists see this. Maybe I didn’t see it until I grew up. With the economy changing and the profession changing, the ” survival” issues play a strong role. Knowing oneself is the key to understanding how to survive dentistry in the long-term.
    Thanks for your insight.

    Comment by Barry — November 29, 2010 @ 9:53 PM

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