“If you cannot be responsible,” the famous soccer player Jeff Cunningham once said, “you cannot be resilient.”
Resilience is what each and every one of us needs in order to overcome adversity, which almost assuredly will come knocking. No sane person wants adversity—but without adversity, there is no growth—only stagnation. And if stagnation goes on for too long, death is the result. How many times have we heard the story of the hard worker who amasses a considerable nest egg for retirement, but on retirement promptly dies? It is a common story—a story of someone who refuses to look at the larger questions in life: “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” “How can I make this planet a little better when I leave it than when I arrived?” “Who do I want to be?”
Most people tend to avoid doing the painful work of introspection in order to become better because it is unpleasant. But introspection is what the Next Level Leadership Club is really all about. I’ve been attending meetings every month with my amazing Crossfit colleagues who are quite accomplished in their chosen fields. But accomplishment by itself is simply not enough to lead a fulfilling life. “Recognize that what got you here will not take you any further,” says Mycal Anders, Crossfit Expert and Leadership Coach.
Every month, some poor soul volunteers for inflicting on themselves the “intentional adversity” of doing “Deep Work.” The “Deep Work” consists of baring your deepest fears, emotional scars, and neuroses to your fellow club members. The member who puts his or her head on the chopping block often suffers inside from poor self-esteem, but you would never know it. We only see the projected image of poise and self-confidence.
So after unleashing his or her deepest darkest secret, each member has the opportunity to grill the poor soul with a question and later offer a suggestion for discarding the unwanted baggage. Mycal is busy recording all of this on an easel, which he will later offer up to the poor soul as the reward for doing deep work.
The elephant in the room is that everyone else has experienced the same fears, emotional scars, and neuroses in varying degrees. There is no one in the room who is not dysfunctional, and who cannot relate to the problems at hand. Many club members have already “been there”—and they offer up great solutions. All club members are extremely supportive, so what was initially seen as one’s most embarrassing experience ultimately becomes a cathartic experience with a positive outcome. Imagine getting what you need from your dysfunctional classmates! This is group therapy without the therapist!
The idea behind the leadership club is to release the limiting beliefs that prevent the fulfillment of one’s true potential. “Don’t play small!” Mycal barks bluntly. “Unlearn the bullshit that got you to this point…Who do you want to be?”
Most of my dentist colleagues could benefit from some Deep Work, from what I can see. Many just go through the motions, doing mediocre work, collecting checks. They have no aspirations to be more, to do more, or to accept challenges that will initiate growth. At the beginning of his career, my father avowed that he was going to be THE best dentist. This wasn’t the talk of an arrogant egomaniac, though at the time it must have sounded that way. My father actually intended to follow through on this vow and he did his own “Deep Work” in order to make his dream a reality.
So how did he do it? First, he found a mentor who was tops in his field—Dr. I. Franklin Miller. He learned everything from his mentor that he could—and ultimately taught classes with him. Second, he disciplined his mind to focus on being the best. That means never accepting work that isn’t the best you know how. “If you think you can do better, why don’t you?” my father once admonished me. And he was right.
How many dentists accept that faulty impression, copping out with excuses to justify mediocrity? I venture to say that the majority do. “One of the hardest things in Dentistry,” my father always said, “is to be your own worst critic.” No one is standing over your shoulder watching what you are doing, but the patient is depending on you to do the right thing. I saw my father redo work that I know 99% of dentists would have gladly accepted. He never let me forget that bacteria are microns, and the reality is that even a seemingly innocuous error is enough to cause complications. In order to achieve a high percentage of success, it is important to stick to a high-quality protocol that “you can hang your hat on”. That is what the ONWARD program has to offer—a solid protocol with a 70+year track record.
I wish I had a $100 for every time I heard someone say, “No one can practice like you!” Really? What a copout! What a cowardly justification for mediocrity! I would be happy to mentor any dentist so that he or she could achieve superior results. But that would still not be enough. What’s needed is the secret ingredient—the ingredient that can only be obtained through “Deep Work”.
What is the secret ingredient? It is the overwhelming desire to do better and it is a MUST in order to rise to the top. Recognize that every new skill has an uncomfortable learning curve. There will be difficulties and errors that occur while negotiating that curve. There will be limiting self-talk and baggage that will make the journey especially arduous. Only through dogged persistence, with the resolution to “do whatever it takes” can you successfully negotiate the curve. It all boils down to this: “Who do you want to be, and what steps are you willing to take in order to get there?”
I had an especially difficult curve to negotiate because I had THE TOUGHEST task master: my father and mentor. I lived under the most unpleasant of circumstances that many would consider downright abusive. But I never gave up—in spite of my fears, emotional scars, and neuroses. I had many defining moments when I just wanted to die. But I never allowed myself the luxury of quitting. I don’t know how I found the courage to keep going, but somehow I did. Eventually I acquired my father’s level of expertise and skill. Imagine being able to accomplish what few dentists in the entire country can do! I’m living proof that if you dare to dream it, you CAN do it!
My father fulfilled his vow and went far beyond his original expectations. I have the proof: more than a hundred thousand pictures of the thousands of cases he completed during his 50-year career. Those cases were all done according to the same protocol and followed for decades WITH X-Rays. I know that no one will ever, ever match the sheer volume and quality of the work he did during his lifetime—and he accomplished miracles without the benefit of “hi-tech.”
Today “hi-tech” in full coverage restorative dentistry is prized for being the most modern and best treatment. Anything that came before “hi-tech” is viewed as archaic. But that is not true. Most hi-tech for full coverage restorative dentistry actually violates basic principles that allowed my father and I to have such a high percentage of success and longevity. How many presenters today touting “hi-tech” can show follow-up X-Rays over decades? I have not seen a single one. That is why they are almost never seen at seminars and in magazine articles. All that is shown is the cosmetic outcome on the day of insertion. Recognize that cosmetic outcomes are rewarding, but if the cases do not last the ultimate outcome will be failure. Is that what you would like to be known for?
The ONWARD program can make any dentist a great practitioner of full coverage restorative dentistry. The program is loaded with case examples followed for decades with X-Rays. But that is not enough. No one can truly become a great practitioner without doing the “Deep Work.” Ask yourself “Who do you want to be?” Then do whatever it takes.
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 and join here: https://theonwardprogram.com/membership/
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.