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Part 1 Mindset: Self Leadership Tip #5

Clarify Your
Beliefs and Values

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Tip 5: Clarify Your Beliefs and Values

Values are like fingerprints. Nobody's are the same, but you leave ‘em all over everything you do.
-Elvis Presley

I am not a big believer of having total control; yet, as I said in the last chapter I have a passion for control. When it comes to beliefs, I think we can exercise some degree of control. When it comes to values, I agree with Elvis. They're like our fingerprints, and we have to discover them and then clarify them.

Let's talk about beliefs first. We tend to believe what we see and what we experience. When we attend seminars and lectures or read books we become aware of the way things should be or could be. This awareness or knowledge takes a backseat to what we actually experience or actively participate in. If our practices do not match with our awareness of how things could be, our beliefs about people, dentistry and dental practice changes. There is a tendency for dentists to get quite cynical and to stop trying to create the practice of their dreams.

Our beliefs need to be based on a foundation of optimism and positivity. How we feel about self-beliefs, our self-capabilities and ourselves is basic to how we feel about whether we have what it takes to get the job done. Our beliefs about our patients are very important if we want to present our best dentistry. It hurts our cause when we believe that patients will not accept our very best. Our beliefs about doing predictable dentistry guide us through the work to produce our very best. Too many dentists lack the belief they are good enough, that their patients have enough money to even want their best work, and that predictable dentistry is just not possible in their hands.

The idea is to slowly change our beliefs. In the famous words of Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Of course, those words mean nothing if they are only in our minds. It is when we begin to participate in the activity of making our beliefs real through experience that our new beliefs become our fuel.

Values are different. Values are beliefs that hold a strong emotional attachment because they act as guiding principles or standards of behavior determining what is important in life. In the end, our lives will come down to what matters most. What matters most is how we feel on a day-to-day basis. When we live according to our values, we feel good about our lives and ourselves. So, what are the principles or values that determine who you are?

In my early years of practice, there was no alignment between my daily life and my true nature. I did dentistry that upset me. It held no meaning for me or for my patients. I worked without any real purpose. I realized that this was making me sick, physically and emotionally. I have written about that in my previous books.

Through much introspection I clarified my values and guiding principles. It took some time. Through the years I honed three values as the most important for my practice. These three values define my practice and help me to identify the patients whom I will most likely enjoy working with. In time, I found these values to be the ones that helped me to attract a great patient base.

The values are abbreviated by the name of my blog TAO of Dentistry (TAOofDentistry.com). TAO stands for trust, appreciation and ownership. Before I could expect to find these in other people I had to exhibit them in my own life. Of course, my practice is values-based. This is the engine that drives every policy and system in the practice and what drives the culture of the practice. All businesses understand the need to identify their ideal client. Dentistry is no different. No practice can cater to everyone. I recommend applying the adage from author Jim Collins, "First who then what." He advises to make sure you understand your ideal client and then figure out what you will do to serve him best Values are the key to attracting the people you want to serve and also to the people who want you (i.e., who share your values)
finding you.

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