Commitment, Improvement…& Cutting Yourself a Break

It really shouldn’t come as any surprise- but it still  catches me off guard at courses. I see the reaction from attendees but I also catch myself having the same reaction even after 20 years of clinical practice and over 12 years of teaching. We attend courses to be inspired, increase our knowledge base and help our patients. Our goals of improving and learning seem pretty clear. Yet it still happens.

What is it that I’m referring to? It’s that moment at a course when we feel so overwhelmed by what we don’t know and guilty for a level of care that we have not provided to our patients in the past, even though we are just learning of it. Even though that knowledge was the reason that we signed up for the course to begin with.

I’ve seen the reactions. I have felt the reactions myself. I felt inadequate. I have felt depressed. I have felt guilty. That tightness in my chest creeps up as the overwhelming feeling of inadequacy beats my ego down into a quivering, bloody, pulp. I have seen that overwhelmed look on attendees faces as well.  I’ve seen the looks of  depression and of despair. I have even seen people walk into another room, out into the hallway or outside the building and even cry.

It doesn’t have to be like that and there are some tips and tricks that we can use to help avoid falling into that rabbit hole of self-deprecation. There’s a quote that sticks with me that was shared by Christian Saeger, the former CEO of The Pankey Institute,  when I attended my first  Continuum on Key Biscayne some 15 years ago.

Chris shared with the class: “Cadillac never apologized for last year’s model.”

We attend CE courses to improve ourselves, provide better for our patients, make our practices more successful and in general to improve the depths and width of our knowledge base. It is not only what we expect of ourselves but what our patients expect of us as well. We are better dentists today than we were yesterday and we will be better dentists tomorrow. Revel in that!

At your next course, when you feel that anxiety swelling up in your chest-just recognize it. Say “Hello! Isn’t that interesting.” (Thank you Joan Unterschuetz!) Recognize that feeling as a sign that you have chosen your course wisely and will be learning something new and exciting that will help you be that better dentist.

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  1. OMG that speaks to the heart of one of our many internal conflicts as dentist/business person/leaders. You clearly have you finger on the pulse of our inner thoughts. Well said my friend.

    • Mark-coming from you, that really made my day. You are one of my top heroes in mentorship, facilitation and just being a great guy. Thank you!

  2. This is so true……we see many of our attendees at guided surgery courses just get completely overwhelmed with the volume of stuff to learn. I’m gonna start the course with this next time to reframe their thinking. That overwhelmed feeling is the sign that you’ve picked the right course to be in! If you sit there and already understand everything that is being presented, you have wasted your money.

  3. Mike, so when did you start reading my mind? Seriously, this is almost exactly what happened to me just a few weeks ago at the AMED Meeting in Huntington Beach, CA. Pascal Magne opened the meeting with a lecture on minimally invasive dentistry using a scope, and halfway through it I was leaning over to Wayne Remington and saying that it was time for me to go home, sell the practice, and just quit dentistry entirely, because no matter how hard I try, I will NEVER be that good. It was humbling to see just how far some of our colleagues are pushing the limits of what we can do with magnification, superb lab work, and dedication to perfect adhesive technique. It was like, “I’m a hack.” But then again, that’s what can inspire us to be better than we are now.

    Thank you for this.

  4. Glad-& sorry it hit home! I have been getting some great private messages on this topic from all over.

    Keep on keeping’ on!

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