As the leader of the ONWARD program, it is no secret that I am fully committed to the program’s success. I have a special calling to ensure that the incredible legacy handed to me continues and does not fall by the wayside.
Most people have no idea how much time is required to fulfill a mission of the fully committed. I have spent countless hours organizing projects; planning, executing and documenting meetings; creating and updating courses, quizzes and handouts. God knows how many hours I have spent promoting the ONWARD program by writing numerous articles (even books!), guesting on podcasts, and posting on social media.
Despite all these hours, no leader can accomplish the mission alone. It requires dedicated team members who are as fully committed. We need special skills and connections to further the cause! One of the most difficult tasks for a leader is to find the right team members. Goals will not be achieved solely by listing friends on a slate of Boards and Committees. Team members must fully participate by attending meetings and completing assignments. I want team members to “have my back” just as I have theirs. I take great pains in making sure that team members are not overloaded with assignments or excessive meetings. I want the meetings to be no more than an hour. Volunteering for the ONWARD program should be fun!
Alice Turnbull, in her essay “What Makes a Good Volunteer” lists several qualities to seek out when recruiting1:
- Passion. Volunteers should have enthusiasm for the mission and purpose.
- Reliability. It is not enough to verbally commit half-heartedly. Team members are counting on each other to be there! Rick Warren notes that “Your commitments can develop you or destroy you, but either way they will define you.” True commitment is black and white, not shades of gray—either you do, or you don’t. There is no in-between.
- Teamwork. Teamwork involves respect for each other as well as the leader. Team players know how to work with others, and they do not want to let their teammates down.
- Patience. Projects take time and often take detours that may be unproductive. Volunteers have to be flexible and chart a new course when it is clear that something is not working.
- Team members bring special skills and experience to the team. Innovation and creativity can make the difference between success and failure.
- Attitude: Willingness to help, positivity and compassion. The great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said that a positive attitude will have positive results because attitudes are contagious. In fact, he notes that “it is your attitude, not your aptitude, which determines your altitude.”
- Organization. Benjamin Franklin says that “every minute spent organizing is an hour earned.”
I thought I did due diligence by selecting my team members on the basis of these qualities. But I was sadly disappointed. This week I called a special joint meeting of the Board of Directors and Planning Committee. It was the first meeting of its kind and very important for accreditation by the AGD. To have so many team members fail to show up or to bail out at the last minute was extremely embarrassing to me as the leader. This meeting was not called at the last minute, it was planned months in advance. Countless emails were sent with informational documents during this period of time.
I have always tried to live up to my word. If I make a promise, I will break my neck to keep it. Last spring, I gave an all-day presentation for Concord Seminars. I was so ill I almost passed out, but I did not want to let anyone down. I completed the 8-hour lecture, and no one knew how sick I really was (including me!) I spent the next 10 days in the hospital with congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Now, that is commitment!
Volunteers are generally not paid for their services, so the team dynamic tends to be a little different than a dental office team dynamic. But it should not be different! I have high expectations for volunteers, and how they respond when they are not being paid gives a great deal of insight into their character. Everything they do reflects on their character and reputation.
I was a great admirer of one of my colleagues who was my father’s contemporary: Bob Jablonsky. I noticed that everything he did was first class—every report to the Ninth District Dental Association and every meeting and golf event that he ever planned. It goes without saying that he had to be a great orthodontist. He was someone you could always count on, and whatever he did would be carried out with the utmost grace and competence. He never left a stone unturned as long as I knew him. Bob passed away on Jan 17, 1997. The day of his funeral was single-digit frigid cold, and I was not looking forward to standing in the biting wind at the cemetery. I was layered to the nines with winter clothing. Wouldn’t you know the entire service was held inside where it was warm and toasty ? Even this last detail of his was well planned and executed!
My college classmate Meredith Vieira is famous for her quote, “Do everything to the best of your ability.” Only in this way can you develop a reputation as fine as Bob Jablonsky’s.
Dr. Alex Lickerman MD reveals the secret to building a good reputation2:
“Become a person who deserves one. Take consistent action that embodies the characteristics you want others to associate with you. Don’t just mouth the platitudes of hard work, attention to detail, loyalty, and drive—live them.”
Dr. Lickerman emphasizes that one’s reputation is a fragile thing that requires constant feeding and consistency. “If you live up to your reputation 99 percent of the time but fail to do so 1 percent of the time, you risk disproportionate damage if the person you let down is highly influential in your network.”
The Benefits of a Good Reputation (according to Dr. Alex Lickerman)
- You can’t stop others from maligning you, but a good reputation can come to your rescue when people rise to your defense without your even knowing it. We are, in fact, all caretakers of one another’s reputations. In a society in which simply being accused is enough to render a conviction in the court of public opinion, we would all do well to presume not only innocence but goodness until facts prove otherwise…
- A good reputation provides you a target at which to keep aiming. Sometimes you may not feel like you deserve your reputation, that’s it’s better than you are. Rather than lament your weaknesses, let your good reputation serve as motivation for you to try to improve yourself.
- A good reputation represents a great marketing strategy. When I find a service provider of any kind whose performance outshines their competition, they become like gold to me. I use them repeatedly, recommend them enthusiastically to others, and don’t begrudge paying them what they’re worth.
- A good reputation inspires others. We all need positive role models, even the best and brightest among us.
Here’s what I have to say to my ONWARD Board and Planning Committee members who disappointed me this week:
“Volunteer duties should be given the same priorities as professional responsibilities and family obligations. When you volunteered, you gave your word. You laid your reputation on the line. Your leader and colleagues are counting on you to follow through. Please do not let us down!”
1Turnbull, Alice; “What Makes a Good Volunteer? The 10 qualities to look out for when recruiting;” September 16, 2021; https://www.rosterfy.com/blog/what-makes-a-good-volunteer-the-10-qualities-to-look-out-for-when-recruiting
2Lickerman, Alex MD; “The Value of a Good Reputation: Why we should care about how others perceive us;” Psychology Today; April 22, 2010; https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201004/the-value-good-reputation
Become the best practitioner in full coverage restorative dentistry that you can be! Don’t settle! Join the ONWARD program and learn how to do crown and bridgework with excellence and confidence, how to save “hopeless” teeth, and how to provide new options for patient treatment that you never thought of. Visit the website: https://theonwardprogram.com
Dr. Feinberg is also available to give presentations. His CV and speaker packet is posted on the website. (https://theonwardprogram.com/about-dr-feinberg/) Dr. Feinberg can be reached at info@theONWARDprogram.com.