Positive Psychology (Part 1) 

July 19, 2024 Paul Henny DDS

By Paul A. Henny, DDS 

Martin Seligman PhD spent most of his career at the University of Pennsylvania advancing the concept known today as “Positive Psychology.” He states that Positive Psychology is “the scientific study of what makes life most worth living.” Along the way, Martin identified five core elements highly associated with psychological well-being and happiness. He believes understanding these five elements helps us to create more fulfillment, happiness, and meaning in our life. 

One of our Pankey colleagues, Barry F. Polansky, DDS, spent a lot of time and energy studying Seligman’s work. In his last decade in practice, Polansky turned his attention to writing books to help new dentists find wellness and happiness in dentistry. Polansky’s 2017 book The Complete Dentist: Positive Leadership and Communication Skills for Success is an excellent guide to starting and running an effective and meaningful dental practice. 

In this two-part series, we’ll take a look at Seligman’s positive psychology model in relation to how we feel about our work in dentistry. 

Seligman’s Five Core Elements: 

P – Positive Emotion 

This represents a “glass-is-half-full” perspective toward life, commonly called an “abundance” perspective. This positive world view is critical because it has a heavy influence on how the brain functions. Our brain is a memory-driven cybernetic solution-seeking organ, with a primary purpose of creating and supporting a successful life. When our mind is in a positive orientation towards our environment, we are typically in a very observant and creative mode of living. In this mode, we constantly scan our environment for relevant bits of information and experiences that are potentially useful in the advancement of our desires.  

When our desires are positive and life-affirming, we are co-creating our experience: We see and experience to a large degree what we expect to see and feel. That is why having a clarified positive vision and purpose for our life and practice is essential for well-being. 

E – Engagement 

L.D. Pankey famously said, “Know Yourself.” What interests us most? What worries us most? In what circumstances are we most comfortable? Under what conditions are we most productive? What are our personal strengths? What are our habits? What are our triggers? What do we aspire to do? What about ourselves would we like to change? 

We all direct most our attention toward the things that interest us or we fear. And it is what we pay the most attention to, whether at work or elsewhere, that we develop the most while engagement with things of lesser importance wither away. It’s healthy to go into ever deeper relationship with the things we value. Clarifying what we believe we are good at and what we will enjoy is a key first step to successful practice development. 

Defining our values is essential so we know when to keep “first things first,” as Stephen Covey likes to say. 

Mac McDonald is a Visiting Faculty member at Pankey, his 2017 book Unchanging Points of Light: Finding Your Way in the Dark is an example of the positive power of values clarification. 

My discussion of Seligman’s five core elements will be continued in Part 2. 

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DATE: March 6 2025 @ 8:00 am - March 8 2025 @ 2:00 pm

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CE HOURS: 16

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Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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The Power of BHAGs – Part 1 

July 17, 2024 John Cranham, DDS

By John C. Cranham, DDS  

Having BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) has been important to me for my whole life, whether it was the Ironman triathalon, getting the opportunity to teach with Dr. Peter Dawson, finishing my book, or setting big goals for my practice. The biggest things in my life that were important to me from a professional standpoint started with an idea that got me excited but seemed impossible. 

A BHAG has a way of motivating you when you think there’s a sliver of chance that you might be able to do it. You set it as a goal and proactively discover steps to work towards it; then you get out of bed each day intent on moving forward.  

People are “wired” differently, but I do think extremely successful people do this. Pete Dawson was like this. He died four years ago, and I remember being with him at my lake house two weeks before he passed away. He talked about a BHAG he was working on–a new book, and he showed me the layout he had in mind for it.  

If you don’t have a BHAG (the next big goal that’s exciting to you), it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine. I can think of times in my life when dentistry became mundane. 

One of the most amazing times in my life was right after I was invited to teach with Pete Dawson. I was on the faculty before I was the clinical director. After I was teaching there, there was a six-month period when I was a little depressed. I didn’t understand the feeling. One night at dinner with Pete, I told him I was struggling. We talked about it for a few minutes, and then he said, “It sounds like you need a new goal.” 

That hit me like a ton of bricks. Once I have attained a goal, I need a new aspiration to chase.  

BHAGs are our reasons to get out of bed every morning and be fulfilled by our efforts. Even if we don’t quite complete everything we visualize, we still end up in a completely different place. And in my experience, it’s always a better one. 

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John Cranham, DDS

Dr. John Cranham practices in Chesapeake, Virginia focusing on esthetic dentistry, implant dentistry, occlusal reconstruction, TMJ/Facial Pain and solving complex problems with an interdisciplinary focus. He practices with his daughter Kaitlyn, who finished dental school in 2020. He is an honors graduate of The Medical College of Virginia in 1988. He served the school as a part time clinical instructor from 1991-1998 earning the student given part time faculty of the year twice during his stint at the university. After studying form the greats in occlusion (Pete Dawson & The Pankey Institute) and Cosmetic Dentistry (Nash, Dickerson, Hornbrook, Rosental, Spear, Kois) during the 1990’s, Dr. Cranham created a lecture in 1997 called The Cosmetic Occlusal Connection. This one day lecture kept him very busy presenting his workflows on these seemingly diametrically opposed ideas. In 2001 he created Cranham Dental Seminars which provided, both lecture, and intensive hands on opportunities to learn. In 2004 he began lecturing at the The Dawson Academy with his mentor Pete Dawson, which led to the merging of Cranham Dental Seminars with The Dawson Academy in 2007. He became a 1/3 partner and its acting Clinical Director and that held that position until September of 2020. His responsibilities included the standardization of the content & faculty within The Academy, teaching the Lecture Classes all over the world, overseeing the core curriculum, as well as constantly evolving the curriculum to stay up to pace with the ever evolving world of Dentistry. During his 25 years as an educator, he became one of the most sought after speakers in dentistry. To date he has presented over 1650 full days of continuing education all over the world. Today he has partnered with Lee Culp CDT, and their focus is on integrating sound occlusal, esthetic, and sound restorative principles into efficient digital workflows, and ultimately coaching doctors on how to integrate them into their practices. He does this under the new umbrella Cranham Culp Digital Dental. Dr. Cranham has published numerous articles on restorative dentistry and in 2018 released a book The Complete Dentist he co-authored with Pete Dawson. In 2011 He along with Dr. Drew Cobb created The Dawson Diagnostic Wizard treatment planning software that today it is known as the Smile Wizard. Additionally, He has served as a key opinion leader and on advisory boards with numerous dental companies. In 2020 he published a book entitled “The Cornell Effect-A Families Journey Toward Happiness, Fulfillment and Peace”. It is an up from the ashes story about his adopted son, who overcame incredible odds, and ultimately inspired the entire family to be better. In November of 2021 it climbed to #5 on the Amazon best seller list in its category. Of all the things he has done, he believes getting this story down on paper is having the greatest impact.

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Green Eggs and Ham 

May 9, 2024 Paul Henny DDS

Paul A. Henny, DDS 

Oftentimes, perspective is everything. Our thoughts influence our emotions, and then our emotions influence our behavior. How we view our situation as challenging but surmountable, impossible and insurmountable, or somewhere in-between, influences the outcome itself. 

When challenged with a difficult situation, for example, chronic intra-staff turmoil, how we view the problem makes all the difference in the world. A conclusion of “That’s just the way people are and I can’t change it,” yields a very different outcome than “I’ve got to do something about this right now, because it is holding my practice back.” 

In 1960, Bennet Cerf made a $50 bet with Theo Geisel. Bennet, the founder of Random House Publishing, bet Geisel, already a well-known author, that he couldn’t author a successful book that only had fifty different words. 

Bennet lost the bet because Geisel saw the imposed limitation as a creative opportunity. The outcome was a book that would sell over 200 million copies. He titled it “Green Eggs and Ham.” 

It’s old news that dentistry is rapidly changing—and in some ways not for the better. But if we focus on the negatives, we automatically shut down the creative solution-oriented side of our brain. 

When we are locked into a glass-half-empty mindset, we think the glass will surely be even more empty soon. Einstein, Jobs, Edison, and Tesla avoided such thinking. That’s why they just kept on creating and overcoming seemingly impossible odds along the way.  

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  

Putting on our overall and going to work is precisely how we should approach our challenges. We need to stop ruminating over what we think can’t be accomplished, because chances are quite good that they can be. Failing to do so will cause another day to be lost spinning our wheels instead of moving forward. 

Looking for inspiration and examples of creative opportunities in dentistry? My CoDiscovery book—available on Amazon and in the Pankey Institute’s online store, is full of them. 

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DATE: March 6 2025 @ 8:00 am - March 8 2025 @ 2:00 pm

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CE HOURS: 16

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Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Life-Long Learning Part 4: Challenge What You Know 

March 29, 2024 Gary DeWood, DDS

Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS 

Challenging what you think you know will pique your curiosity and lead to pursuing more information and interactions from which you learn. Challenging what you think you know leads to learning with the benefits of brain development, longer life, emotional wellbeing, and inspiration to share yourself in new ways with others. Simply said, challenging what you know prompts intentional learning to BE more expansive, to grow. 

My hope is that after reading this blog series, you will take time to reflect on the following statements from three of the many people who have influenced me over the years. 

Quotes from Daniel J. Boorstin, historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Americans: 

Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know. 

The single largest obstacle to discovery is NOT ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge. 

Quote from Herbert E. Blumenthal, DDS: 

Don’t believe everything you think. 

Quotes from William J. Davis, DDS, co-author with L. D. Pankey of A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry: 

Learning best takes place when we “live” a philosophy, meaning living in a state of inquiry based on our values, knowledge, and goals. 

When the late Dr. L.D. Pankey decided to devote his life to saving teeth, he was forced to ask himself, “How can I help people keep all of their teeth all of their lives?” In 1925 L.D. didn’t know the answer or even if there was an answer. When he decided to never extract another good tooth, he was taking an enormous professional and economic risk. He was able to uncover and develop many principles that have proven instrumental in our understanding of restorative dentistry and patient communication.  

Philosophy, in its most valuable form, is more concerned with the right questions than the right answers. 

Now that I am back actively within the Pankey community of learning and inspiration, I have four wishes for you: 

  • May you come face-to-face daily with something that you don’t even know you don’t know.  
  • May you not be blinded by what you think you do know when it shows up and fail to see it because you believe everything you think.  
  • May you ask questions and intentionally seek answers. 
  • May intentional leisure learning be not just what you do but how you live. 

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Creating Financial Freedom

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Life-Long Learning Part 3: Leisure Learning Is Intentional Learning 

March 27, 2024 Gary DeWood, DDS

Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS 

We might define leisure learning as “Anything that is taught in an organized formal or informal plan of education to assist an adult in learning something about his or her occupation, occupational opportunities, personal happiness, or social enhancement and into which that adult engages him or herself for the purpose of learning about it.”  

I’d like to rename it “Intentional Learning” for the purpose of our discussion. My best guess is that your intent in coming to The Pankey Institute is to learn something about dentistry that will help you do what you do better. The incentive for that goal, being better, is why you come. You are choosing to use leisure time to learn dental stuff with intention. 

Any information you perceive as other than about being “better at clinical dentistry” you might be less interested in retaining and consequently likely to forget quickly. You will not really learn the stuff for which you have limited curiosity. Interestingly, that stuff that is not about the “dentistry” is the most important part of what The Pankey Institute sends you home with. At least I and countless others have found this to be true. 

Intentional learning is essential if you want to live a longer life. 

In the absence of Intentional Learning, defined as “actively seeking out new information that you WANT to integrate into your experience and understanding of the world,” certain parts of your brain will shrink. Your capacity for learning and your critical thinking/problem-solving skills will diminish. A reduction in neurons and neurotransmitters will affect your memory, your concentration, your mood, and your physical movement. Blood flow to parts of the brain can even be reduced–use it or lose it is a common thread in nature.  

So, Intentional Learning is GOOD for your brain and necessary if you wish to thrive. Synapses continue to form and re-form if you are acquiring new information, experiences, and knowledge with intent. Intentional Learning reduces stress levels. Stress reduction not only helps us perform better in our professional life, but our personal lives as well. 

Intentional learning opens social possibilities. 

Homo Sapiens are social creatures, we crave interaction, in fact we require it. Intentional learning encourages us to take risks, adjust, and adapt as we go. It sparks social engagement which leads to happiness in so many aspects of our lives. It enhances motivation, creativity, and innovation. It provides an opportunity to open our minds, challenge ourselves, and appreciate new opportunities. 

Intentional Learning fuels even more learning
as it stimulates curiosity, renews our purpose,
and moves us toward problem solving actions.
It has the potential to keep us young. 

My mother’s desire for Intentional Leisure Learning, never left her; she was and is a voracious reader, and to this day at the age of 90, she loves nothing more than sharing something she has read recently and is busy integrating into her view of the world and how it works. Her beliefs are open to what she experiences in her life, to what she learns.  

The day will come, sooner than I wish, when “dental” learning will not be as applicable to my daily life as it is today. I will still want to be part of a dental study club, still challenge what I think I know, and offer whatever wisdom I’ve been able to store to the conversation.  

Once found, intentional lifelong learning is something one does not easily lose the desire for. 

I will never forget Dr. Parker Mahan’s words, “I know I too can never live long enough.” Some might hear those words as limiting. I hear them as liberating. The well of knowledge will never be dry. It is and will remain an infinite source of things that I can still learn. 

I am so grateful to be back home at The Pankey Institute after spending my intentional learning (and teaching) time for the past fifteen years in a place that has made a choice to focus on “dental” learning. The behavioral aspects of dentistry and developing understanding of oneself and others have always had equal focus at Pankey. And since that “other stuff” is not something that can ever be checked off as “learned” no matter how many years I have left to be here, my intentional learning can and will always be young and new. It’s why The Pankey Institute is not a place you DO, it’s a place you learn to BE. 

The Institute is a place where learning never stops because, when you learn to BE, you have learned to act. Being is an ongoing and continuous process. It’s something that is lived. It is community. It is home. It is still The One Place.  

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DATE: March 6 2025 @ 8:00 am - March 8 2025 @ 2:00 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 16

Dentist Tuition: $ 2795

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

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Lifelong Learning Part 2: We’re All Lifelong Learners 

March 25, 2024 Gary DeWood, DDS

Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS 

Adults have a wealth of experience to draw on and they like to do so as part of their learning. Adults are not used to taking direction in education; they choose what they want to learn. When my friend (in Part 1 of this series) lost his active interest in seeking out dental education, he had made a choice to learn other things he hoped to know.  

One of my heroes, Doctor Parker Mahan, told me once that one of the harshest lessons of mortality for him was the realization that he could never live long enough to learn everything he wanted to know. 

Adults need to create specific opportunities to self-reflect and internalize what they are learning in order to integrate it with what they already know. Adults have preconceived notions about education, learning style, and subject matter that interfere with their learning. Adults are often afraid to fail so they frequently guard their learning process by telling themselves why what they are hearing is wrong. 

Where children are sponges when it comes to learning, as adults our brains adapt to experiences and interactions that occur “on purpose.” We acknowledge a reason to remember that experience…to have that new knowledge. 

Here’s an example. 

Our eldest child, Patricia, entered a world in which those charged with her immediate care had barely learned to care for themselves–a world to which she adapted very quickly. In no time she had taken control of the lives of two sentient beings who proudly professed their independence and right to make decisions about their own lives but nonetheless jumped through the hoops of her creation as soon as they were offered. 

After the grandmothers had departed and Cheryl and I were now totally responsible for this baby FOR REAL, her training of us began in earnest. Turns out Cheryl and I CAN be taught, proven by our immediate response to Patricia’s guidance in managing her universe. A visit by Uncle Toby and Aunt Patsy presented us with an opportunity to learn from another source. 

Following a hearty meal, a very sleepy baby was laid in her crib for some sleep. Almost immediately upon our return to the living room Patricia realized she was no longer being held, and realized she was no longer where the “party” was happening. Being WITH the party is very high on Patricia’s list. When she “called out” in response to that situation, two very well-trained parents immediately stood to head for the emergency that was happening for the helpless baby. Uncle Toby looked at us as we simultaneously rose and said, “What are you thinking?” 

That might sound like a question, but it was really a statement that meant “stop.” So, when Uncle Toby asked his “question,” Cheryl and I stopped as we were instructed. Uncle Toby then asked, “What are you teaching that baby if you go in there and pick her up every time she cries?” 

As brand-new, first-time parents, this thought was alien to us. Being so well trained, we thought our only mission in life was to keep the baby from crying. With some angst in our stomachs that tightened each time Patricia’s wailing reached a new crescendo, we sat in the living room and pretended to ignore what we were hearing.  

Suffice it to say that when our second child Dale came along, he learned, and reasonably quickly, that we were not necessarily coming every time he rang the bell.  

Every day, we hear and see a lot of information that never makes the transition to “learning” because it does not produce change.
Change can only occur for adults when we enter into an agreement with ourselves that there is something we want to learn in what is being said or shown to us. We ACT on it. 

The truth is EVERY interaction we have with any other person or situation is a potential learning experience if we reflect upon it and internalize its meaning for us and act on it. It’s impossible not to learn. We do it all the time. Lifelong learning is thus a forgone conclusion.  

One of the greatest joys in dental practice is creating learning moments for patients by providing intentional opportunities for them to experience their oral health and interact with us in a way that provokes their curiosity, internal reflection, and acknowledgement of needs. Just as we are lifelong learners, we can trust that they are lifelong learners, too. 

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Creating Financial Freedom

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Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 16

Dentist Tuition: $ 2795

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Lifelong Learning Part 1: Change & Process 

March 22, 2024 Gary DeWood, DDS

Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS 

Learning begins from our first moment of awareness as our eyes open and we have a response to something external to us that is brand new. That experience and all the ones that follow until the moment awareness leaves us to shape our reactions to and our actions in the world. 

Experiential Learning 

The brain is a dynamic and ever-changing organ, constantly adapting to new experiences and knowledge. 

When our youngest daughter Katie was a child, I was cooking dinner one night–my turn–and Katie was sitting at the island where the stove was. I turned around to get something from the cupboard and heard a loud inhale followed by a whimper. Upon turning quickly, I saw her move her hand rapidly behind her back. No more sounds came forth, but I saw a tear and I asked her what was wrong. She said in a wavering voice, “Nothing,” and then looking at the stove burners, “Mom told me those were HOT and never to touch them.”  

I gently took her hand from behind her and saw the blisters rapidly forming on her fingers. She started crying and said to me, “Please don’t tell mom.” I’m certain she never felt the need to verify the information her mother had given her again. THAT is learning. 

All of us have experiences like that every day. Some are memorable and become part of us, embedded in a manner as yet not fully understood inside our brains for almost instant access. Some “learning” seems to fade quickly or never even get recorded. I “touched” a lot of biochemistry information over the years without burning much of anything into my brain. Maybe I should have been touching the stove at the same time. Learning is not simply having an experience of something and then being able to view the recording later.  

The Definition of Learning 

In nearly all of the definitions I have located in my research I see that CHANGE and PROCESS are prominent parts of learning. For example: 

  • A change in disposition or capability that persists over time and is not simply ascribable to processes of natural growth. 
  • Relatively permanent change in a person’s knowledge or behavior due to experience. 
  • A transformative process of taking in information that, when internalized and mixed with what we’ve experienced previously, changes what we know and what we do. 

Choice & Focus 

My personal experiences have shown me that a big part of lifelong learning is what you believe about it and how you embrace it. It’s driven by some measure of choice and focus. 

Cheryl and I have sought out new ideas in dentistry wherever they took us. One of my friends in dental school, a wonderful man whom Cheryl and I still hold close, took a different path. Sometime around the 10th anniversary of our graduation we were visiting, and he told us that he had been able to get all the continuing education he needed without traveling.  

I discovered that his feelings around need and learning as it pertained to dentistry meant satisfying the requirements to stay current with licensure. He is NOT a bad dentist, but like many of the dentists I have come to know in the last 48 years, a hunger for dental learning changed once school was finished.  

A Drive for Learning 

I am reminded of one of the most original and influential thinkers on the creativity process, Robert Fritz, who believed you can create your life in the same way an artist develops a work of art. He said, “If you limit yourself only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want and all that is left is a compromise.” 

As a philosopher and scientist-physician, Dr. L. D. Pankey intentionally observed processes and their results (change) with the goal of becoming better at helping others. The embodiment of compassion, he was highly curious and actively sought ways to alleviate the sufferings and misfortunes of patients and colleagues. He traveled long distances to learn from others’ experiences. He inspired others to know themselves, their patients, and their work on a continuous road of mastery. As a lifelong “leisure” learner, he was interested in a wide range of subjects outside of dentistry as well. Through reflection, he often discovered he could apply this outside learning to his work. 

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Creating Financial Freedom

DATE: March 6 2025 @ 8:00 am - March 8 2025 @ 2:00 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 16

Dentist Tuition: $ 2795

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

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Life Is More About Possibilities than Probabilities

March 18, 2024 Paul Henny DDS

Paul A. Henny, DDS 

Dentistry can be an isolating profession, wherein there are few people around who fully understand the pressure we’re under and the extreme level of responsibility and personal accountability we face on a daily basis. As a result, the isolation and pressure can easily cause us to feel like we’re in a lonely battle against a cold world that simply doesn’t care about what we are trying to accomplish. 

When we get into that mindset, it’s easy to think that competition is outside of us, that ultimately life is a battle of “us” against “them” and zero-sum. But few things in life are truly zero-sum, because very few things in life are that black and white. In truth, life is more about possibilities than probabilities, which means life is largely what we make of it instead of what happens to us. We are only in competition with others and the world at-large when we try to be like others, and we try to play the game by other people’s rules by aping of their behavior and adopting their mindset and values. 

The belief that we are in a constant state of competition is just an illusion because we can never become someone else, nor can we replicate their path to success, much-the-less become a mirror image of how other people think. 

Our true and authentic self has no competition. There is nobody else on this planet who can do exactly what we do, the way we can do it – that is, if we have the courage to try and fail until we master it. Hence, our authentic self has no competition because there’s nobody quite like us, and the sooner we accept who we are with grace, the sooner we can stop fighting our identity by attempting to become something that we cannot become. 

When we are clear about who we are, what we believe in, and what we are willing to fully get behind and make sacrifices to achieve, the more we’ll come to the realization that our feelings of competitiveness are a self-created illusion. Achieving this deeper level of self-understanding allows us to see ourselves from a perspective from which we are no longer envious of what others have accomplished, and we no longer desire what others have created, because we understand that we cannot build a life that’s not our own and we need to proceed forward and do the work necessary to create something for ourselves and others. 

The fastest way up the ladder of success is through the lifting up of our true selves. Sometimes that process can take a while, because in the beginning we don’t fully understand who we are, and we therefore can’t be clear about what we’d like to accomplish with our life. 

We can only rise up when we care enough about ourselves to invest in our future self – today. We can rise up by developing ourselves into the best person we can be today instead of spending our energy chasing after other people’s ideas of what “good,” “optimal,” and “admirable” mean. 

The simple fact is that we’ll never become our best self until we stop trying to be something that we can’t be.  

To quote a line from one of the songs of my childhood, “If you’ve found your place at last, then you need not use the looking glass.“ 

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The Power of Development Hygienists and Dentists: Are you ready for your hygiene appointments to be more effective both clinically and relationally? Can you imagine having a totally fresh perspective…

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Zeroing in on Well Being at Work (Part 2): Gallup’s Universal Elements of Well Being

January 28, 2022 Bill Gregg DDS

Reading Gallup’s 2021 book Well Being at Work: How to Build Resilient and Thriving Teams by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, has challenged me to think about:

How do we develop a dental practice in which all team members thrive?

The things that immediately come to my mind for improving front office and clinical team morale are respect, appreciation, having a voice, genuinely fair compensation, and workplace flexibility to manage true personal urgencies such as illness and maternity leave–without feeling you are letting down the team. To reduce stress and enable all team members to do their best work and experience connection with patients, dentists can improve block scheduling to focus on doing more procedures in a single appointment while seeing fewer patients in a day.

Perhaps, more things will come to your mind.

5 Elements of Net Thriving Teams

Through millions of interviews worldwide, Gallup has found there are five universal elements of well being. Gallup says they are the five things that count most and that we need to focus on to develop “net thriving teams.”

Career well being: You like what you do every day.

Every day, you and your team members have opportunity to do the type of work that you individually do best and have unpressured time to do your personal best. As dentists, we often talk about doing more of the dental procedures we love doing most. What does each of your employees do best and want the opportunity to do more?

Social well being: You have meaningful friendships in your life.

For dentists, a meaningful friend is apt to be a like-minded colleague or mentor. Your best friends might be a “mental Board of Directors” — the voices of influencers you trust running through your head. But do all your team members have a meaningful friendship at work? Collaborating around a central philosophy of care helps build meaningful relationships.

Financial well being: You manage your money well.

As dentists, we talk at The Pankey Institute about defining for ourselves what is enough money to lead a balanced work life and personal life. It is also appropriate to talk about what is enough to maintain a practice in which every team member can financially thrive. As small, private employers, what changes and team buy-in might be required to wisely stay on track?

Physical well being: You have energy to get things done.

Eat properly, get healthy sleep, and exercise daily. Foster a spirit of health within the practice. Live it. Celebrate it. This will become part of the team culture that enhances the well being of everyone.

Community well being: You like where you live.

Humans innately strive to be part of something bigger than themselves and to support the social environment in which they work. Our practices are communities that often feel like large families. We can create and foster a practice vision that includes “being a thriving, supportive, well being community.” We can “write that on the wall” in our team meetings and in how we interact with each other and the patients we serve.

Closing Thought

A culture of well being puts overall well being upper most.

I encourage you to think and journal a bit about the actions you can take to support the five universal elements of well being…the five universal elements of a thriving life.

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Bill Gregg DDS

I attended South Hills High School in Covina, Denison University in Granville, Ohio and the University of Redlands in Redlands, California prior to dental school at UCLA. My post-graduate education has included an intensive residency at UCLA Hospital, completion of a graduate program at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education ; acceptance for Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD); and in 2006 I earned the prestegious Pankey Scholar. Continuing education has always been essential in the preparation to be the best professional I am capable of becoming and to my ongoing commitment to excellence in dental care and personal leadership. I am a member of several dental associations and study groups and am involved in over 100 hours of continuing education each year. The journey to become one of the best dentists in the world often starts at the Pankey Institute. I am thrilled that I am at a point in my professional life that I can give back. I am honored that I can be a mentor to others beginning on their path. As such, I have discovered a new passion; teaching. I am currently on faculty at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education devoting 2-3 weeks each year to teaching post-graduate dental programs. In other presentations my focus is on Leadership and includes lifestyle, balance and motivation as much as dentistry.

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Zeroing in on Well-being at Work (Part 1)

December 5, 2021 Bill Gregg DDS

Why is well-being at work so important now?

In the latest Gallup organization interviews, one in four Americans reported feeling a lot of sadness the previous day. During the pandemic, a mental health crisis has impacted employee and patient sense of wellbeing. A large 28% of U.S. employees reported feeling burnout on the job very often or always. One-third of Americans have shown signs of clinical anxiety or depression, and the current state of suffering globally has risen significantly to seven in ten people worldwide.

The authors of Gallup’s 2021 book Well Being at Work: How to Build Resilient and Thriving Teams, Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, say “The right place to start reversing this trend is in the workplace. People want a good job with a good manager where they can use their strengths every day,” and this book empowers leaders and managers to create thriving cultures that involve (emphasize) employee participation and focus on the wellbeing of everyone involved.

Of course, when I read this book, I found it immensely applicable to dental practice. I was energized to communicate with you the basic Gallup findings and add my personal push for dental practice owners, leaders, and managers (in most cases, private dentists) to focus on building resilient, thriving teams. And Mary Osborne and I offered to start a Pankey Virtual Study Club centered on just this, titled “Ignite Your Team.”

Currently in our world, when the overlapping demands of work and life are greater than ever, maximizing employee wellbeing takes on urgency.

Flexibility within a framework is the future of work

Clifton and Harter state that “Organizations have the power and responsibility to improve their employees’ wellbeing. When leaders and managers cultivate the whole person at work — not just the employee — they promote the success of every individual in the organization.”

To maximize your team’s wellbeing, Gallup’s leadership experts encourage us to regularly gather feedback from employee about their opinions, needs, and experiences, then make decisions based on not only this feedback but also our experience, foresight, and understanding of the business (dental practice) and its goals. In a dental practice, this means placing high value on a culture that is positive, supportive, and focused on the overall wellbeing of yourself first and team members next, so together you can focus on the wellbeing of your patients.

I am reminded of two “Rich-isms” or teachings that Richard A. Green promotes within the Pankey community.

  1. Always recognize that the team that co-develops a framework of structure and systems, embodies and operationalizes these systems. “If they help form it, they own it and support it.”
  2. Make your office look more like an educational organization by creating a developmental, coaching, counseling, and consulting culture. Listen to the team. Involve team members, while considering your values and life-long vision supporting your mission and purpose.

What adds up to a thriving life?

In this new book, we learn that Gallup’s 100 million interviews worldwide have resulted in five universal elements that “add up to a thriving life.”

  1. Career wellbeing: You like what you do every day.
  2. Social wellbeing: You have meaningful friendships in your life.
  3. Financial wellbeing: You manage your money well.
  4. Physical wellbeing: You have energy to get things done.
  5. Community wellbeing: You like where you live.

To develop a “Net Thriving Team,” start with reflecting on and journaling about these five stages of wellbeing. I’ll be back with “Zeroing in on Wellbeing at Work (Part 2)” next month.

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About Author

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Bill Gregg DDS

I attended South Hills High School in Covina, Denison University in Granville, Ohio and the University of Redlands in Redlands, California prior to dental school at UCLA. My post-graduate education has included an intensive residency at UCLA Hospital, completion of a graduate program at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education ; acceptance for Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD); and in 2006 I earned the prestegious Pankey Scholar. Continuing education has always been essential in the preparation to be the best professional I am capable of becoming and to my ongoing commitment to excellence in dental care and personal leadership. I am a member of several dental associations and study groups and am involved in over 100 hours of continuing education each year. The journey to become one of the best dentists in the world often starts at the Pankey Institute. I am thrilled that I am at a point in my professional life that I can give back. I am honored that I can be a mentor to others beginning on their path. As such, I have discovered a new passion; teaching. I am currently on faculty at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education devoting 2-3 weeks each year to teaching post-graduate dental programs. In other presentations my focus is on Leadership and includes lifestyle, balance and motivation as much as dentistry.

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