Changing Directions

Nov 17, 2010 No Comments by

Have you ever wondered why some dentists seem to do much better financially? Do you hear colleagues talking about the comprehensive cases they have completed and find yourself saying, “I’m not into that kind of dentistry”? Do you feel as though this is boasting and could be taking advantage of the patient financially? After all, it must have cost the patient a small fortune for that much treatment.

Your patients come from the same general marketplace as the comprehensive dentist, and it’s a 3-5 mile radius of your office. The difference in doing and not doing comprehensive dentistry is training, believing in yourself, and seeing your world differently.

I have watched thousands of dentists over the past 40 years make changes in their lives and practices and become the person and dentist they had dreamed of becoming. The changes came about by learning to believe in themselves and by doing away with self-defeating behaviors.

When was the last time you questioned who you are and what you stand for as a person and a dentist? Chances are it was quite a while ago. A dental practice evolves into the way we see the world around us, which is whatever other dentists are doing or the fees they are charging. We open a practice, hang out a “shingle,” and hope someone calls so we can pay our school loans, our mortgages, and have money left over for ourselves.

Listen to your inner coach and start seeing your world differently.


We get busy and fall into a sense of false security because this “busyness” is interpreted as the way it should be. We get caught up in the affairs of the moment, but then realize we’re not as productive as desired—just busy. We do just enough to get by, believing this is the way it will always be. After all, “my patients can’t afford more and the economy is bad.”

This thinking or belief is called “self-defeating” behavior. Now is the time to revisit who you are and what you stand for and ask of yourself what do you believe. Beliefs have direct impact on our character and our behavior.  This evaluation of yourself is the beginning of dissatisfaction.  Changes don’t come about until you realize you’re dissatisfied with the your present situation.

The way you see yourself and your practice is the way it will be. The view might be negative: I can’t accomplish it in my area, my patients can’t afford that kind of dentistry, and the economy is bad. The negative little voice in your mind is known as your inner critic.

Your patients need your help with their dentistry and are relying on you and trusting you. If you get them to see the VALUE in having procedures done, they will get the money. Besides, the economy isn’t so bad—90% of the people are working and the economy has not affected them.

The positive voice in our mind is known as our coach. This is the voice of confidence and encouragement. It is the voice of hope and the way to success. Your inner coach checks for solutions, not problems, and it provides you with inspiration and vitality.

The positive voice teaches you to replace fear and doubt with faith and hope. When you have faith and hope, you have no fear and doubt. They can’t dwell together—you have one or the other. The inner coach teaches us to be positive and to have faith and hope.

The mind can waste a lot of energy on self-defeating beliefs. Remember that a belief is not a fact. You should not think that what you believe about yourself today is necessarily true. What you believe today may be questionable today and wrong tomorrow—dissatisfied.

I no longer practice dentistry, but when I did, I practiced with a positive attitude and tried to provide the best dentistry possible. Now I dedicate my time to helping dentists realize and recognize their inner coaches. I help them become better dentists and more productive and self-satisfied.

Watching dentists change brings the same sense of accomplishment I received when I had completed a difficult reconstruction case. Listen to your inner coach and start seeing your world differently. If you practice these principle, I guarantee you a new joy and happiness you never thought possible.

Editor's Commentary, Fall 2010

About the author

Dr. Dick Barnes is the leader in practice development for today’s cosmetic practice. A graduate of Marquette Dental School, he began his general dentistry practice in Rialto, California. As his practice, skills and reputation grew, he became known as one of the world leaders in cosmetic dentistry. In addition, Dr. Barnes taught at Loma Linda University and the University of Southern California, at their respective dental schools.
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