Betterment Begins With Attitude

by Lisa Philp

You want the best for yourself and your practice, but the first step toward getting there is developing the right mindset.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to make it to the very top in dentistry? I’m not talking about being a great clinician and having a good practice, but really having it all: strong leadership presence, a high-performing team, gifted technical skills, financial freedom, solid patient relationships, and an exciting career that gives you boundless enthusiasm and energy.

Years of experience in coaching dental teams and their leaders has revealed a common thread among our most successful clients. It’s not that they know a secret everyone else doesn’t. They don’t share a certain gene and they weren’t all born under the same sign. But what they do have in common is an openness to learn along with a strong commitment to developing their personal and professional lives. It sounds simple, but that’s not necessarily the case.

It takes bravery to look within and discover our own strengths and weaknesses. Certainly, we may have weaknesses we don’t realize or don’t want to admit. By the same token, we may have strengths and aptitudes we didn’t even know about. Building on those strengths and getting past our weaknesses requires that we trust in others.

An interesting aspect of trust is that people with the highest self-esteem find it easier to trust others to teach them. When we are confident in our own abilities, the fear of trusting others is diminished. We are also more likely to look honestly at our weaknesses and create solutions. On the other hand, if our self-esteem is fragile, we will worry about what others think of us and we will keep problems and feelings to ourselves, choosing not open up to growing through experts. The ability to trust others and take responsibility for our actions, as well as strive to overcome the obstacles, drives us to excellence.

Continuing education comes in many different forms, from seminars and workshops to hands-on training with a personal success coach. If you have a clear, honest understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, then seminars and books and videos can be of help. If you don’t, you may want to look for one-on-one opportunities like hands-on training and professional practice coaching, where you’ll get personal attention that will help you evaluate yourself.

What can you expect if you make the commitment? Among our clients, those who are actively engaged in striving to be better and keeping up with the latest advances are experiencing consistent growth rates of around 10% to 15% every year. This is also referred to by Stephen Covey as being proactive: choosing our actions, rather than controlling or being controlled by them. Responsible people take responsibility for shaping their future and for initiating behavior that will create the situations they want. Responsible people do not wait to see what will happen; they see that they are a causative influence on their environment rather than a victim.

The power to overcome all obstacles is a human resource that is often equated with the use of energy or the empowerment of self and others. When we demonstrate our power, no one can tell us what can’t be done. We are freed from patterns of self-diminishment and are less likely to accept other people’s perceptions of what we can and cannot do. We all possess our own personal power, duplicated nowhere else on the planet. No two individuals carry the same combination of talents or challenges; therefore, when we compare ourselves to others, this is a sign that we do not believe we can achieve our goals. This attitude affects not only ourselves, but extends to everyone we come into contact with.

A simple way to determine where we have room for development is to apply the three elementary rules of change.

Rule #1
If something is working, then continue doing it and find ways to do more of it.

Rule #2
If something is not working, then do something different.

Rule #3
If you don’t know if it works, find out.

So, look at your dental career and ask what is next for you in terms of personal or professional development and select the right learning environment. With your mission in mind, the toughest opponent you’ll face is the voice inside your head.

About the Author
Lisa Philp is the Chief Visionary Officer of TGNA – Transitions Group North America. Lisa is committed to being an eternal student in the areas of personal growth, leadership, change management, human capital development, adult learning, advanced training techniques and communication skills. She may be contacted at or