Friday, April 8, 2011

The Shoulds

One comment. I thought Wednesday's blog was the best blog in a long time. It was thought-provoking, I put in some good photos, I thought it was well-written and funny. I thought the comment lines would be lit up. The comment section is a barometer to me if you are engaging. I have been told by two of my friends that it was great but, just one. Huh.

I will see if I can get you to write about this one. I read an article in DentalTown magazine a month or so ago. (I had to get it out of the trash; I don't normally read it, but I had a friend tell me to.) "A Prominent Dental Disorder: The Shoulds," is written by Doug Carlsen, DDS.

I found it very thought-provoking, and it kind of goes along with Wednesday's blog (that apparently no one liked). He talked about how dentists are cut out of the same mold. We all grow up with "trauma of expectations." And then this morphs into problems associated with issues that involve guilt and stresses to succeed. I know most of you can relate to this. I certainly can (I love you, Mom and Dad). The shoulds begin at an early age. I should get all As on my report card. I should love and do well at sports. I should keep my room clean. I should...

Carlsen talks about how, as we mature, the list becomes bigger and more expensive. I should have a big house. I should live in an affluent community. I should always wear named brand clothes. My wife and kids should represent me well in the way that they behave and appear. My kids should be getting good grades in their private school.

Oh my gosh, this is hitting home to some of us. It is hitting right in the center of the bullseye to me. And, of course, we are giving the shoulds to our children.

How about as a young professional? I should have a successful practice. I should work in an upscale part of town. I should own my own practice within 6 years. I should go to all the hot guru speakers.

Just writing this, my blood pressure is building. I am thinking I am still there. I am still (even after I know that I shouldn't have the shoulds so far along in my career) saying, "I should be keeping up with my journals. I should have already established myself. I should have a staff that loves me. I should have the latest equipment. I should be doing implants or Invisalign."

How about the older dentists? Do you think they are immune? "I should have saved more for retirement. I should find a perfect replacement dentist for this practice before I retire. I should be cutting back my hours. I should have a hobby outside of dentistry. I should be traveling more."

He talks about how the shoulds always lead to blaming others for our perceived shortcomings. Maybe we blame the government, the economy, a spouse, our staff or our parents. And some of us begin to hate our life and job and spouse. Then to deal, we get counseling or maybe go to drugs or alcohol. I like the latter. (this is where I have to tell you, again, that the AGD doesn't condone the use of drugs and alcohol to deal with problems).

Carlsen quotes some experts and then says he believes a balanced family life is very important. He pointed to the Pankey Cross of Life. The cross has four points in it all pointing to the things we should try to balance: work, family, worship and play.

The problem is the our perception of reality. What is important to older folks? As young people, we would think it would be travel, nest egg, I can finally buy a bigger house or other stuff we never could afford. But an overwhelming answer from the older folks is, "I want to spend more time with my grandchildren and family."

(my kids)

WOW!!! Isn't that a huge slap in the face with reality? That is turning my life upside down. I hope it is turning yours upside down too.

Okay, now what? Well, let's take this a day at a time. We are going to try to build our practices or our associateships and enjoy them more. I am going to try to enjoy people more. My patients, my family, my friends. I am going to listen to my older patients more and see what they are like. I am going to talk more to the ones that seem happy.

Had a patient in his mid 80s this week. He is a multi-millionaire. He has NO family. He said, "I have a son and I don't even know where he lives." You don't want to be like that do you?

One day at a time. This weekend and next week, I want you to think about the shoulds. They are not reality. Reality is boring and it doesn't sell stuff. That is where I want to be - boring.

But hey, it's FRIDAY!!!! Now let's go and have a glass of wine or a nice cold beer (this is where I am supposed to tell you that the AGD... well, you know). It is supposed to be 90 degrees in Orlando this weekend. I think I go swimming.

Have a great weekend.


Anonymous said...

I regularly tell people that I really don't like being "should" upon. I try hard not to "should" on them.

gatordmd said...

Are you "should-ing" me?

I will use a quote that my 10th grade Science teacher use to say to me all the time...
"You are such a card, now get out!!"


Hannah said...

I completely agree that we shouldn't use the "shoulds" to shift blame onto other people for areas where we have failed or lacked initiative. "I really should have an organized office" just means that I've decided not to do it now, so I have no one to blame but myself!

Nathan said...

I enjoyed Wednesday's blog. A positive outlook is contagious, so thank you. And for Friday's blog, I think a balanced case of the "shoulds" is a good thing. As long as it doesn't over shadow the things that matter most, like family.

gatordmd said...

Great points Nathan. I totally agree with you.


KidDentist said...

Great read...I found my pressure was creeping up too. You really put things into perspective, and I hope to put the petty "shoulds" aside and concentrate on the "shoulds" that matter most. Thanks for the great insight. Have a great week, Doc!

Doug Carlsen said...


Great comments on my article! I received more positive comments on that one article than any financial piece I've written.

And you get it! Great blog!

So many of us dentists try to please everyone with what we are told is appropriate behavior.

In a study of early retirees that I published in Dental Economics several years ago, I found that truly wealthy dentists were those that had small, family oriented practices. They catered to "comfortable," not high-tech---shocked the hell out of me. Instead of doing all the things that make consultants and equipment salesmen rich, they focused on the patients and service.

In other words, being kind to people with your unique abilities and self is what the "secret" is, not having iPads in all ops a and cone beam!

Keep up the candid thoughts!

Doug Carlsen


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