Sent to subscribers on September 26th 2014
Hello and welcome to a slightly different ezine. A special welcome to the new subscribers, especially those I met at the presentations that Siobhan Kelleher & I did at the offices of Henry Schein in Dublin and Cork. Congratulations to HS on their 20th anniversary in Ireland, marked by a great party at Identex. Welcome also to the people I met at Identex last weekend, this event is growing from year on year and well done to the IDTA and IDA for making it happen.
September has always felt like a month of re-starts and I have my 20 formative years living by an academic calendar to thank. This is the month of returning students; the Rees household is no exception and yesterday morning we rose at ungodly o’clock to get the son to Cork airport for his journey to Cardiff. He’ll be starting his fourth and final year at University in the Welsh capital. In 9 months, hopefully, he will graduate as a Master of Physics.
This got me thinking on the nature of masters and mastery and what it takes to become a true master of anything, rather than a degree title. Common acceptance from K. Anders Ericsson’s work and explained by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, would have us believe that to master any skill, be it guitar, golf or endodontics, takes 10,000 hours of practice. That may seem daunting to the young dentists and final year dental students I met at the Dentinal Tubules partners’ meeting recently, who were delightful and stimulating company, but at least they have a skill that will be in demand (they hope) whilst they are learning mastery. Compare that with a budding guitarist who will have to practice in isolation until they have the confidence to face the public. Neither Eric Clapton nor Rory McIlroy dropped fully formed from the trees.
Mare daunting to the fledgling dentists is the fact that for many cases they may never become masters of particular skills; in the same way that for every Clapton, McIlroy or Carter there are thousands who have put in the hours but don’t have the basic wiring or natural skill. So whilst dedication and hard work will take you so far it will not take you further.
Do you settle for life as a journeyman or do you constantly keep climbing the artist’s mountain improving and enhancing your skills? You would think the latter must be the case, however judging from the numbers of dentists who appear to do the bare minimum of CPD and early on settle for a life in the comfort zone it isn’t the case. In the UK this is often blamed on the emphasis on core topics laid down by the GDC so that other interesting and stimulating courses aren’t considered.
In my case I had the clinical skills in many directions, a successful practice and a good income but I stopped enjoying the practice of clinical dentistry which led to my seeking a new direction nine years ago.
I have never regretted the decision although it has led to some introspective moments, the most recent of these was stimulated by a chance remark by Sheila Scott to whom I owe thanks for her catalytic qualities. This will the last edition of the Ezine in its current format as Dental Business Partners is about to undergo a metamorphosis in time for Dental Showcase. In edition to Sheila I have to thank Chris Baker from Corona, Louise Rowlatt from Pen-Pal design and John Moore Photography for their inspiration and toleration of my procrastination.
So what’s coming up? Clarity about who I am and what I do. I’m fed up of hiding my lamp under a bushel and being apologetic about my skills. My clients benefit from those skills and experience of a career in dentistry and nearly a decade of professional coaching; they seem happy about it, why shouldn’t more experience the same?
So at the moment I’m Working on a Dream; which clunky link brings me slipping and sliding to wish Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen a belated happy birthday, his 65th. Little did I know when I borrowed his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, from the students’ union record library to record it on my Akai 4000D reel-to-reel tape deck that our relationship would still be going strong 41 years later. We have made several similar mistakes over the years (contractual, marital and hair) but have come through all the stronger for it.
Finally, I made a reprise to DJing a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s 60th birthday party – what was intimidating was that it was also her daughter’s 30th celebrations. Would I be able to span the eras? Could I still get the feel of a crowd? Would I suffer the ignominy of clearing a dance floor? The answer, it was a success and we had a great night. I had one more chance and I could make those people dance. I may not have Springsteen’s stamina but I still put on a good show! Using software on a laptop and mp3s is a whole lot easier than humping twin decks, boxes of vinyl and speaker cabinets around too.
To your success and happiness.