Knowing yourself is part of the growing process. Our culture promotes a lack of responsibility, so when someone (you) comes along willing to assume responsibility for your practice, heads turn!

While it’s tempting to blame outside forces, when you assume responsibility for your practice, your lack (or abundance) of new patients, your income, your family, your relationships, and other dimensions of your life, you immediately feel more powerful. When we don’t take responsibility, we assume the posture of a victim, both literally and figuratively.

Don’t Assign Blame

Wanting to assign blame is a victim mentality. Who can we fire? Who is at fault? When you know yourself, you no longer blame team members, patients, insurance companies, HMOs, the doctor down the street, the weather, office location, or anything else. No need to get angry with HMOs–it is their nature to act in certain ways. No need to get angry at patient behaviors–it is their nature to act in certain ways. You’re only a victim when you lose your head, your focus, your center and abdicate your responsibility.

Knowing yourself means knowing your limitations, too. Knowing what responsibilities are yours and which ones belong to others may be one of the most liberating discoveries of our lives. It’s impossible to truly know yourself until you know your boundaries. Clue: realize that you can only control (take responsibility for) that which is less powerful than you are. Thus, HMOs, insurance companies, the weather, skeptical patient spouses, and countless other influences are outside your control and you shouldn’t take responsibility for the outcomes. Simply acknowledging and taking responsibility for all the decisions you’ve ever made, would be a productive first step.

What Patients Want

Patients want an encounter with a dentist who is real, genuine, and authentic–someone who has his or her own act together enough to provide leadership, encouragement, and hope. Not only do they want to see a doctor who is healthier than they are, they want an encounter with someone who is open, optimistic, and fearless. It is often this unseen mental preparation and the resulting continual self-improvement that struggling dentists rarely grasp. To them, it is so subtle they think it’s not important. To them it is so "non-clinical" they think it doesn’t matter. To them, it is so personal they hope no one will notice. Fortunately, the most frustrating, challenging, and uncooperative patients don’t.