Blurring the Line Between Work and Play

May 25, 2018 Brad Weiss

When we love what we do, we do it better. This is a popular lesson in literature and in life. Tom Sawyer had an aha moment after convincing his friends to whitewash the fence his aunt had tasked him with by making it seem like play rather than work.

This quote from Mark Twain says it all: “If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

Obligations v. Choice: Loving Dentistry

While there was a time that I felt obliged to do dentistry (to pay off debt, to take care of family, etc.), I am now blessed to choose the vast majority of what I do and how I do it. I still have plenty of debt to pay off and am a long way from financial freedom, yet I find myself most days with a smile on my face.

This is because of the conscious choices I’ve made over the last 18 years after I first learned of Dr. Pankey’s Cross of Life. Many of those choices have helped blur the line between work and play for me.

When Work Becomes Play

When any of my mentors would talk about their work as any semblance of play, my initial response was one of significant skepticism. I had even seen my childhood dentist, Dr. Mark Stetzel, truly loving his work, his team, and his patients.

But early in my career, I had a difficult time envisioning that for myself. With the ‘Golden Age of Dentistry’ supposedly in the rearview mirror, I wasn’t sure my work could ever actually feel like play.

Today, I am so grateful to have a team around me that has chosen me and vice versa. They believe what I believe. We are pulling on the rope together because we get to do more of what we enjoy doing each day. We have learned about our own and each other’s strengths and we play to those strengths more and more.

So much of what we do on a daily basis has become play for us because we have realized we’re not obliged to do dentistry in a way that doesn’t align with our own values. We get to help people who want to be healthier make choices to do just that.

The choice to incorporate Dr. Rich Green and Don Clifton’s work on maximizing strengths in a dental office was such an important one for me. It created an aha moment much like Tom Sawyer’s. When people get to do what they are good at on a daily basis, they don’t feel obliged to go to work. Rather, most days can seem more like play!

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DATE: October 10 2024 @ 8:00 am - October 12 2024 @ 2:00 pm

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About Author

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Brad Weiss

Following dental school, Brad practiced in Kenilworth and Winnetka and gained experience with Lasers and Computer Aided Design and Machined Dentistry. Brad continued his education and the L.D. Pankey Institute in Florida and is honored to be a part of the Visiting Faculty since 2008. Brad has also been co-facilitating a study group for dentists interested in developing relationship-based practices in Vancouver, B.C. since 2010. Brad practices in Evanston, IL.

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Work Life Philosophy: Play Part 2

January 17, 2018 Bill Davis

This blog is a continuation of an excerpt from Dr. Bill Davis’ upcoming Pankey Insider article. Here, Dr. Davis explores the concept of ‘play’ as a key facet of Pankey Philosophy:

Artistry, Dentistry, and Play

Anthropologist Ashley Montagu, in his book, Growing Young, lists what he calls “neotenous traits,” characteristics of a youthful attitude toward life. These include curiosity, love, friendship, taking pleasure in problem-solving, exploration, invention, imagination. All of these are facets of play.

Another dimension of play is that of creation. There is an element of artistry in dentistry itself, but many dentists also find pleasure and satisfaction in other forms of artistic creation, such as gardening, making stained glass windows, cabinet-making, restoring antique automobiles, sculpting.

Creativity can be therapeutic, as well as fun. A man in Michigan took up playing the bones when he was past 65 to try to reverse an arthritic condition in his hands. Today, he plays at folk festivals, concerts and other gatherings, and his hands are even more supple than ever. His spirit is supple as well.

Is there enough play in your life? Do you enjoy leisure activities with your family and friends? Or do you find yourself talking shop even while playing golf? When was the last time you asked a waitress or mail person if she or he had heard any good jokes? What activities do you do for the sheer pleasure of doing them?

Have you seen any good sunsets lately? Is there something creative that you’ve always wanted to do but “never had time?” Do you have an urge to ask your children to teach you skate-boarding or hacky sack? The longer you wait, the more you will miss.

What keeps you spirited and engaged in your dental career? Please share your insight with the Pankey community in the comments! 

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Transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the Key, and Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of…

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Bill Davis

William J. Davis DDS, MS is practicing dentist and a Professor at the University of Toledo in the College Of Medicine. He has been directing a hospital based General Practice Residency for past 40 years. Formal education at Marquette, Sloan Kettering Michigan, the Pankey Institute and Northwestern. In 1987 he co-authored a book with Dr. L.D. Pankey, “A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry”. Bill has been married to his wife, Pamela, for 50 years. They have three adult sons and four grandchildren. When not practicing dentistry he teaches flying.

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Work Life Philosophy: Play

January 15, 2018 Bill Davis

In this blog excerpted from an upcoming Pankey Insider article, Dr. Bill Davis explores the contributions of Richard C. Cabot to Pankey Philosophy. Here, he focuses specifically on the concept of ‘play’ and how it can improve your work life:

The Philosophy of ‘Play’

Play is not merely recreation—it is “re-creation,” the child-like spirit that helps people renew themselves through all of their activities, including work. In his book, What Men Live By, Cabot compares the way a child walks to school—alive, aware, wandering, wondering—and the way many adults trudge to work—solemn, self-absorbed, head down, unaware of their surroundings.  

Notice how you walk down the street. What “background music” might accompany you? If it’s a dirge, experiment with smiling, breathing deeply, noticing your surroundings—even if you don’t feel like it. You might be amazed at how positively people respond to you.  

“Play,” Dr. Cabot says, “keeps the soul alive.” Play can be revitalizing, particularly in situations of overwork and stress. Dr. Carl O. Simonton, the noted oncologist, uses juggling to relax.

Some dentists enjoy the use of humor. One dentist, for example, invites his patients to send him relevant cartoons, which he laminates and posts on his bulletin board. He says seeing them reminds both him and his patients to “lighten up.”

Play is a means of expression. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” But play is more than “dull boy” insurance. It is an end in itself, a way of expressing yourself in the world.  

A friend tells of an old man who spent his days on a park bench talking with and entertaining people who passed by. No matter how poorly he was feeling, he shared with others “the jewels of daily life,” the gifts of humor and playfulness. Youngsters in particular were attracted to him, as they loved his stories and good humor.  

To be continued …

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About Author

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Bill Davis

William J. Davis DDS, MS is practicing dentist and a Professor at the University of Toledo in the College Of Medicine. He has been directing a hospital based General Practice Residency for past 40 years. Formal education at Marquette, Sloan Kettering Michigan, the Pankey Institute and Northwestern. In 1987 he co-authored a book with Dr. L.D. Pankey, “A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry”. Bill has been married to his wife, Pamela, for 50 years. They have three adult sons and four grandchildren. When not practicing dentistry he teaches flying.

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Practicing Dentistry Your Way

December 4, 2017 Lee Ann Brady DMD

One of the gifts of dentistry is that we get to drive our vision and create the practice that engages and fulfills us. There are really very few professions with such limitless possibilities.

If you dream about working three days a week, you can create that. If you want to work from 7-3 or 3-10 you can. Do you love doing endo procedures? Then you can do them. If you dislike doing pediatric dentistry, then you can choose to refer it all out.

How to Practice Dentistry in a Way That Fulfills You

There is no one way to practice dentistry. This is an incredible gift and for me makes dentistry one of the best professions. Having this amount of choice also comes with some challenges and responsibilities.

The first challenge is accepting the gift of choice. Dentistry is full of outside pressures that can drive how we practice if we choose to let them. These pressures may come from other members of our team, other dentists we know, insurance carriers, or our own beliefs.

Along with choice comes the responsibility for choices, their execution, and their outcomes. Creating the practice you dream about may not happen overnight. It will require a thoughtful plan and the commitment to execute it, but it is within your reach.

The place to start is to allow yourself to dream and dream big. Walk on the beach, find a quiet space, and just let go of the constraints of how things are now. Imagine what it would look like to practice dentistry and LOVE it.

As you imagine this preferred future, tap into your emotions. If you find yourself excited, energized, and propelled to action, then this is the path to start to walk down. Refrain from asking yourself “How” you will create it.

Once you have a vision for how you want to practice, now it is time to ask the “how” question and remember anything is possible. The question is what will it take to create it. Begin with a timeline and ask yourself how long from now you want to have the practice you just dreamed about.

On the right hand side of the timeline is that preferred future. On the left hand side is today and how things look today. Then work backwards from the future and place milestones in time and change along the way.

Remember, for everything you want, there will be something to give up or some cost, but it is possible!

How have you designed or wanted to design your dream practice? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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