…and I thought self control was always a good thing.

Sometimes you have to admit that everything you thought was wrong was (possibly) right. Could it be that all those good habits, all that resisting temptation and weeks of denial were for nothing?

Is it possible that beating myself up after the third chocolate digestive and saying “no” to things that would have been fun but would have distracted me from my goals may well have done me more good than harm?

I now find out that there is a “Dark Side” to self control. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Kokoris and Stavrova point out the downsides of resisting temptation.

It is true that people with strong self control have better health, relationships, finances and careers and fewer problems with overeating, overspending, procrastination and unethical behaviour.

However there is a downside:

Self control:

  • Can restrict emotional experiences.

  • May lead to long term regret.

  • Can lead to increased workload.

  • Can be used for ill.

  • Isn’t for everyone.

  • Can lead to long term bias.

Before being full on about “self control” perhaps we should practice some “self compassion”, learn to know and like ourselves, perhaps cut ourselves a little slack and be more realistic.

Read the full paper HERE

I’ll have another marshmallow now please.

You don’t have to do this…”Things They Didn’t Teach You at Dental School”

An excerpt from the forthcoming book, “101 Things They Didn’t Teach You at Dental School”

“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.” Polonius. Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3.

Is Dentistry really what you want to do? You don’t have to.

Many dentists made the decision about what to study at university in their mid-teens. A time of life that is short on maturity, experience and insight. Parents, teachers and career advisers see dentistry as a well-remunerated, socially acceptable profession with a good secure future. 

Unfortunately a number of dentists are ill suited to a profession that makes extensive physical, mental and emotional demands. How many of us have the nerve to say that it’s not what we want?

After 5 years as an undergraduate and carrying a large student debt it is a very brave new graduate who would dare tell their parents and family that they have chosen the wrong subject to study. Humanities and pure sciences graduates would be fortunate to continue with their subjects. It is only the vocational degree where the graduate is able, or expected, to follow the career pathway without a second thought.

Socially, to turn away is akin to leaving your fiancée at the altar, yet an individual is to be admired for admitting that they don’t feel the commitment needed to make a happy marriage. 

Turn things on their head, if you know in your heart of hearts that you are unfulfilled and unhappy being a dentist isn’t it better to say so sooner than later? How many more miserable years do you want to tolerate? How much stress and heartache can you endure once you have admitted to yourself that you’re in the wrong place? 

There are far too many dentists who have plodded on through their BDS and Foundation Training then on to associate posts and partnerships without considering the future or an alternative.

They think this is the way that it has to be, it will get better, easier, less of trial to get out of bed in the morning – next year. Living from holiday to holiday they get little fulfilment from the work they do or the people for whom they are supposed to care. 

Often these are the ones who succumb to the stressors. The use of alcohol and other drugs, gambling or other addictions along with failed relationships are commonplace.

I have attended funerals of apparently happy and successful dentists who have taken their own lives because they could only see that one way out.

These problems are not unique to dentists and many people as Thoreau put it “live lives of quiet desperation”. 

What else is possible? 

Answer – anything that you want to be. There are ex-dentists who are successful architects, writers, lawyers, and musicians. I know a former orthodontist who now builds dry stone walls (and will teach you how to build them too). The discipline of your training means that you are suited to re-train.

Stuck in a government-devised rut, which rewards quantity not quality?

If you want to change then say so, and do something about it. This isn’t a rehearsal; there is no second chance at life, no re-run. If you want to be better, nobody else can do it for you.

 

Do dental patients know what they want?

Do (Dental) patients know what they want?

A recent article in the British Medical Journal discussed the instruction from Health Education England that patients and public should be consulted on ‘What they need from 21st century medical graduates’.

I’m reminded of Henry Ford: ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me – “A faster horse!”’.

Steve Jobs, added: ‘People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

‘That’s why I never rely on market research.

‘Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.’

Prevention

If we’d asked people 50 years ago they wouldn’t have mentioned prevention and treatment of dementia in a reply.

Indeed, it is likely they would not have considered prevention at all.

Would they have suggested smoke-free workplaces, public houses and restaurants?

If the same question is asked of dental patients, ‘painless’, ‘free’ and ‘always available’ might be high on the list.

Two decades ago, a desire for straight white teeth without much ‘drilling’ would probably have been included as desirable.

But not considered possible by most dental patients.

The revolution in general (dental) practice driven by a desire to deliver an alternative to disease-driven repair care with minimally invasive, patient centred, cosmetic care was not anticipated.

Similarly, putting dentistry at the heart of general medical care would scarcely be an expectation or demand from most of the population – were they even to be asked.

Yet we know that the future must embrace the concept of ‘putting the mouth back in the body’.

Dentistry’s task is to take Job’s words and not only read but also write things not yet on the page.

Who knows where that might take the next generation of dentists?

First published in Dentistry.co.uk

The more things change…

From the editorial in the current BDJ

Each generation believes that it discovers everything for the first time and suffers each difficulty anew. Is it that a certain personality type was (and is still) attracted to dentistry? If so, does this partly explain today’s burnout statistics as much as it did then? ‘In 1913, Dormer was declared bankrupt, which he stated was caused by continuing ill-health … he had left his previous job as an assistant due to a nervous breakdown but had been unable to work up a business sufficiently large to meet his living expenses, been in financial difficulties for some years and had taken loans from money lenders.’

As usual a great read, and I’ve never been to Bexhill-on-Sea either.

 

Sleep isn’t for Wimps.

I had a nickname in my first year at university – “The Midnight Rambler” – I didn’t sleep very well and used to wander around the halls of residence looking for people with their lights on to share a coffee and have a chat. (I suppose the coffee was a clue…)

I finally got around to reading “Why we sleep” by Malcolm Walker and wish it had been compulsory reading 40 years ago, I might have had a more productive life rather than a more manic one. I grew through a period where it was considered macho to go without sleep, I remember the plastic surgery firm at Withington Hospital boasting at 11pm how they had been in theatre all day and were just about to go back there. I always said that I needed less sleep than others – in hindsight I was wrong.

Walker talks about productivity and the effect that sleep (or its lack) has on it. He quotes this article and makes the point that KPIs in most companies are measuring things that are easy to measure – revenue, goals accomplished, profit, new customers etc. Most of these are affected by employee traits creativity, intelligence, motivation, effort, efficiency, effectiveness, sociability, emotional stability and honesty. All of these are systematically dismantled by insufficient sleep.

Would you let a surgeon who had only had 4 hours sleep operate on you? I wouldn’t. 

Would you let a woman who only slept for four hours a night run a country? I wouldn’t do that either.

It’s a great book that will frighten you and convince you to make an early night and sufficient sleep a part of your routine.

Buy it HERE.

 

Why wouldn’t you?

I have a hoard of unpublished blogposts, some half written, some one line ideas, they are the result of experiences, ideas, conversations, things read, seen or thought.

This one came about after talking to a client about his team routinely recording their patients’ blood pressure and pulse.

Increasingly dentists ought to be seen as Oral Physicians as well as Surgeons and should look at their patients overall health. Often dentists are in a better place to do routine checks than our medical colleagues and should do them before many procedures. This is good practice and those who embrace the role are to be encouraged. They, and their teams, do need to be competent at doing straightforward measurements. It’s something I started (but did not persevere) back in the early 1990s.

These are comments on three patients from the client

  • Nice outcome. Did patient’s BP and it was 210/99, sent her to her GMP as a matter of urgency.
  • Normally he would be hospitalised but treated under own doctor’s care, turns out to have high platelet count.
  • Had to send her away last time as we had potential cardiac issue on our hands. Saw her this time and she was still effusively grateful for us having found this. Saved her from heart attack or stroke.

The client continued:

“I cannot understand why “X” (client’s associate) is reluctant…”

“We should have been doing them years ago….”

Just say no….

It’s easy isn’t it?

To say “No”.

Really?

I would love to say that having been close to and through burnout on a few occasion as both an employed dentist, a practice owner and (even) as a coach – yeah, yeah I know, I should know better – saying “no” is still one of the hardest things to do.

You want, and think you need, the business, the popularity, the money.

You don’t want to turn someone away, to use a negative word, to let them down.

What if this is the last person who asks you?

What if this leads to a hugely successful opening or opportunity?

What will they think of you when you turn them down?

We all know that we are all trying to achieve too much, demands on the only thing that everyone has (time) are growing, last week I visited Practice Owner and mother of three sorry, Mother of three and Practice Owner, Lauren Harrhy and marvelled at her composure and balance as she seeks to carry on her good work and become a BDA rep. 

Tony Barton from Red Kite World who was one of my teachers during my Coach Training sent me a link this morning. It features Greg McKeown and his book “Essentialism – The disciplined pursuit of less”.

I own this book but haven’t read it – yet.

Why? Because I haven’t found the time.

Why? Because I keep saying yes to other things.

Take a look at Greg speaking

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