Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The wedding was great.
They are super people and I think they were still shocked that we showed up.
Very appreciative.
Everyone kept saying, "Oh, you are the dentist."

I have been thinking a lot about the word COUNTERFEIT.

I think there is a lot of it in our profession.
As in every profession but you see I am a dentist so all I can talk about is dentistry.

I told you that I am going to give a lecture in South Carolina this weekend. My target audience is young dentists. I give a lecture called "What you need to know about the first five years of practice".
I tried to remember what it was like to be a young dentist in a dog eat dog world and then put it in a presentation.

One of the topics that I hit on is Failure.

Oh my gosh did I fail alot. I was failing the relationship part of career, with staff and patients (yes, I am still failing at that) and failing at my dentistry.
No one ever tells you that you are going to fail. No one ever tells you that unless you want to be miserable be prepared for failure.
And if anyone ever tells you things are great, they are lying.
This career is about failure. Not, are you going to fail but what you are going to do when you fail.

One thing I show my audience is regular dental periodical (you know magazine. Periodical sounds so much more stuck up) that I get in the mail. There is an article on how great this person does root canals. They talk about how this product helps me the best he can be. Come to find out in the last paragraph of the article the dude is getting paid by the makers of this product. Then you flip the page and there is a full page advertisement for this product. It could be legit, but it stinks to me. This is counterfeit.

I get so much crap in the mail. I look at my mail with a trash can under my desk for fast throw aways. But one thing caught my eye and it was a letter from a dentist that says, (and I quote) "I produce $4,500,000 a year and don't even break a sweat.
So to someone that doesn't have a bullshit meter to filter this stuff through, this could make them feel a little insecure (I am sorry about the cussing but I couldn't think of anything else that fit).
Imagine the guy who produces $350,000 and is working his/her butt off trying to do that. How do you think this letter is suppose to make them feel. I WANT WHAT THAT GUY HAS.
(No, they don't. I would be that guys patient if you paid me) Counterfeit.

I got so down on myself I almost quit dentistry about 4 years out of school. I came home and asked my wife if she would mind moving back to Gainesville. I told her I was thinking of quitting dentistry and going back to school to be an endodontist (because they have the life).

We try so hard to be just like the others. The problem is the others are lying to you.
I was sitting at a young dentist conference once and I had my back to this guy that talked very loud (or maybe I was just ease dropping) and I overheard him say that he put in 26 units yesterday and they went in like nothing.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
Now at the time I was vulnerable. First of all I hadn't done 26 units the whole year and I remembered the week before when I was putting in 2 units and it didn't go very good. So this means I must really suck, right? I didn't have a filter. I felt like crap.

Now this guy is not trying to make others feel bad, he is just trying to make himself feel good.
And I am not saying I don't have an embellish gene either. I mean when I do something good I want to shout it from the mountain top. All the pictures I have in my lecture are all the BEST work I have ever done. The best fillings, the best crowns, the best veneers. I don't show all the 60 in between appointments or for sure I never show them my failures.
(When I show them good stuff, I try to quantify it by saying they don't all come out this way. Or these veneers look good but it was the third try...stuff like that. I don't want them coming to my lecture and leaving feeling worse about their dentistry).
So we all tend to be a little counterfeit when we talk about ourselves.
We have to have this aura of success for people to like us or think we are okay.

Like my neighbor, he spends so much money on his house. He has plasmas everywhere (I have a 32 inch tube television that I bought in college. I want a 70' inch plasma but I wont spend that kind of money on one). He has a plasma TV outside in his porch. He is constantly doing stuff to his house. There is construction going on at his house all the time. His house is gorgeous but he still tries to improve it. I start to get jealous. Wow, he must have a lot of money. It must be nice.
Come to find out his business has really hit the crapper and his wife had to go back to work to help pay for the cable bill (they have 13 year old that will come over and tell us their life story).
I like the guy. I even like him without the theater room with a 100' TV with electronic lazyboy chairs (yes he has that).

Knowing this I try hard to act real around people. I like to tell people that I fail. I like to make it okay for people to fail around me. (No, that is not why I do it more often).
But do you understand. I tell people I don't have a big TV because I can't afford it.
People that know me and my wife and my kids that we are nuts just like you. We scream at each other when someone is a crappy mood. We spank out of anger. We cuss. We are impatient.
We make bad decisions. We fail.
But for us (and I try to make everyone know) failure is okay.
It is a part of growing. Your character is molded by your failure. But you have to get better because of it. You do it a little better the next time. That is life.

I want to change that. I once wrote an article in Dental Economics called "Failure is an option".
It was a big hit. People emailed me from all over the country saying how refreshed to read someone who finally felt the way they did. I hope I am doing this with this blog.
Maybe too real sometimes.

Am I rambling on?
You get what I am trying to say. Try not to be counterfeit in anything you do.

I will talk to you on Friday. It may be a short one. I have a flight out early in the day.
Wish me luck.


Anonymous said...

Bullseye John!

Chaos and failure is the 'stuff'' from which the authentic life is built. I know only too well about being a COUNTERFEIT. It is just one of many false, yet seemingly workable, behavioral masks we put on when we don't know what else to do. It will work until it doesn't. Then what?... like verses from that old pop tune, 'nowhere to run, nowhere to hide'.

When the outside world sends us messages that force us to look away from our true selves, we must resist. It's difficult because, as I like to put it, "the world will teach you what the world wants you to know". But deep down, you know better. We all do. Yet the temptation, the pull towards EGO power is a strong attractant.

John, why do we try so hard to be like the others? You've said it many times, "I want to be liked!" You would be amazed at what people, not just your patients, really thought of you. They look to you for your STRENGTH, your LEADERSHIP, your CARING, and your PROFESSIONALISM.

I've discovered that being liked is OK. But I'd rather be that person who is thought of as a LEADER. That idea is found in a kaleidoscope of beliefs, thoughts, and action. Sort of like art; don't necessarily know what it is, but when I see it, I know it is art.

More, later John, and to anyone else who reads this. You got it going, man.

Kyle, the Coach

Anonymous said...

Dear John,

Do you still want to be an endodontist and have the life? If you do change ever John, make sure you are the one endodontist to place 2 COTTON PELLETS in the chamber!

On a serious note here though, you are correct in the bs meter thing. As we grow older with grace, you can hone(?) in on it pretty easy!

Keep going strong,



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