Hope and Faith vs. Fear and Doubt
Dr. Dick Barnes understood that making a lasting change requires the courage to act despite fear. According to Dr. Barnes, all dentists need to consciously, and on a daily basis, make a choice of hope and faith over fear and doubt. To him, this wasn’t a simple “bumper sticker” affirmation, but rather the most fundamental determinant of one’s future.
“According to Dr. Barnes, all dentists need to consciously, and on a daily basis, make a choice of hope and faith over fear and doubt.”
Often, when speaking on this topic, Dr. Barnes could be heard saying, “The way you see yourself and your practice is the way it will be.” He believed this statement with a fervor that only comes from someone with deep personal experience in this area.
Dr. Barnes once wrote, “Dentists who fear change will be forever trapped in a career that will be defined by struggle and disappointment. I struggled with these fears when I started practicing, but I quickly found that replacing fear with faith broke down all the barriers that were preventing me from reaching higher levels of production. I had faith in the patient’s ability to understand and see the value of what I was presenting. I didn’t let the fear of ‘no’ hold me back from presenting the kind of comprehensive dentistry that I knew the patient needed.
As a direct result of this change in thought, patients began to have faith in what I could do for them. As simple as it sounds, that is one of the key reasons that my small blue-collar practice was able to outperform dental practices in the wealthier areas.”
Dr. Barnes believed it wasn’t enough to just hope that someday you will be the dentist you envision. You have to stare down your fears and self-doubt and act—no matter how uncomfortable or awkward you feel.
To Dr. Barnes, there was nothing more tragic than the stationary optimist. To him, optimism was just a soothing balm that made the pain of stepping out of your comfort zone bearable long enough to see the benefit so that you would take the next step. Fear and doubt were strong forces that kept too many dentists from realizing their full potential. He felt that too many of his colleagues were stuck waiting for that perfect case, or for the economy to improve, or for some other “reason” before they took their skills to the next level.
“Fear and doubt are strong forces that keep too many dentists from realizing their full potential.”
Before speaking to a group of dentists, Dr. Barnes would often say, “The goal is to get every dentist to do that next big case—now! It doesn’t matter where they practice or what is happening with the economy. Because once they see how great a dentist they can be, they won’t wait for anything.”
Anyone who was around Dr. Barnes for very long felt the strength of his optimism and his willingness to act in advancing his goals, regardless of the uncertainty or fear he had to confront. Not surprisingly, Dr. Barnes said that the three most powerful words in dentistry are “Let’s do this.”
A lasting legacy is not just about remembering—it’s about living and doing. It’s about learning from the past, acting in the present, and building for the future. Dr. Barnes wouldn’t want anyone to merely remember the ideas he espoused—he would want us to use those ideas and make them our own. The legacy that Dr. Barnes started at a small dental practice in Rialto, CA, will continue onward because it is being carried forward every time a dentist chooses hope and faith over fear and doubt, dares to see the world differently, and realizes that we are never finished in this worthy pursuit.