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Part 1 Mindset: Self Leadership Tip #15


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Tip 15: Be Yourself

It's just better to be yourself than to try to be some version of what you think the other person wants.
- Matt Damon

My advice to you is to be true to yourself and everything will be fine.
- Ellen Degeneres

This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
- William Shakespeare, from Hamlet

There is a story about L.D. Pankey and his famous patient, the tobacco tycoon, R.J. Reynolds. Reynolds came to Pankey to get his teeth fixed. When he asked for the fee, L.D. told him not to worry about the fee until the case was finished, then R.J. could pay him what he thought the dentistry was worth. On insertion day, R.J. handed Pankey the keys to a brand new Rolls Royce. In other words, Pankey let R.J. Reynolds determine the value of the case after it was done. Besides showing great confidence in his own work, he trusted Reynolds would treat him appropriately. This story was first told to me by a dentist who believed more in a high-pressure model of sales. That dentist said, "I don't have L.D. Pankey type patients in my practice."

That didn't sit well with me. I learned a long time ago that "people are people are people." In other words, all people are fighting the same battles. All people have the same plumbing. Once we take off our masks and let people get to know us by sharing our philosophy with them, things get better. Author Brene' Brown suggests we become vulnerable and truly let people in. The problem is most of us hide our real selves. We try to be someone we're not. Very few of us can say we are the same fearless person we were as a child. We become an adulterated version of ourselves.

I was sitting in traffic recently when I looked up and realized I was on Lillian Lefkowitz Way, the road parallel to the Jewish Community Center in my neighborhood in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. I drifted off in thought to a time long ago in my very first year of practice. Lillian became one of my first patients that year. She was handicapped as diabetes was taking its toll on her. She reminded me of my grandmother. We became fast friends. I looked forward to her visits. She always asked about my family. Lillian went on to refer her family to me including her neighbors, husband and son. I restored her mouth way before I was ready to do that kind of work and way after she was ready to have it done. The dentistry worked out well.

Little did I know at the time that Lillian was to become the matriarch of the Community Center. I guess you might say she was my version of R.J. Reynolds. The only difference was that I was so wet behind the ears that all I did was be myself. I didn't have any agendas or techniques to sell dentistry. She was just a lady I liked, who liked me and we did her dentistry. The key is that so many dentists ask me to help them in persuading patients to accept dentistry, but the simplest thing I can teach them is to be likable and be themselves…because people buy you before they buy your dentistry.

I know dentists who make assumptions about people long before they get to know them. Meet people where they are and accept people for who they are. Most of the time there will be a meeting of the minds once both parties take off their masks and get to know one another. Adam Smith in his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, an early example of behavioral economics cuts to the core of things. Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely. In other words we want people to like us, respect us, and care about us. We want to be appreciated, desired, praised and cherished. In other words people want to be appreciated, loved, acknowledged and recognized.

This tip may be the most important tip in this guide for your own wellbeing and happiness.

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