Believe in Your Ideas. Believe in Yourself. 

September 6, 2022 Bill Davis

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

When L.D. Pankey was developing his Philosophy, he studied with many early American business authors and teachers. One such person was Napoleon Hill (1883 -1970). In 1937 Hill published a bestselling book, “Think and Grow Rich” which emphasized a positive attitude and having good communication skills.

Every innovation, every invention, every work of art begins with an idea. Long before the Wright brothers ever flew, Leonardo Da Vinci had sketched and designed an aircraft. Da Vinci conceived of mechanized flight, but the Wright brothers believed it was possible, acted on that belief, and thus achieved flight. Likewise, in 1929 L.D. Pankey had the idea that teeth could and should be saved, although at first, he didn’t know how.

L.D. Pankey’s belief that teeth could be saved was so strong it motivated him to do some research, study what was known at that time, and do the experimentation necessary to make his idea a reality. Belief in himself and his idea helped him persist despite some uncertainty, blind alleys, and many other frustrations.

There is an old Chinese saying, “If you do not know where you are going, you are likely to end up somewhere.” Too many people end up “somewhere” because they have not clearly defined where they want to go. The first step in moving toward greater satisfaction, therefore, is to set specific goals.

Vague goals such as “I’d like to be a better dentist” or “I’d like to be happier” or “I’d like to make more money” are common. Be more specific, for example:

  • I would like to learn about implant placement.
  • I want to have more fun with my children.
  • I want to earn 15% more this year.”

Then, be even more specific and set definite time frames so you can measure your progress:

  • I would like to begin training in implant placement this coming September and be placing implants successfully in June. Tomorrow I will begin by investigating continuing education programs in the science of implants.
  • I would like to have more fun with my children. At dinner tonight I will ask my children about ideas for fun activities, and we will start by doing one of the activities each week.
  • I would like to increase my income by 15% this year. I will meet with my accountant and a dental practice coach this month to look at ways to increase my profitability. I will also do some reading in practice management.

Once you have conceived your ideas, you must believe it is possible to achieve them. Without the power of belief, you will not take them seriously; nor are you likely to weather the many setbacks and frustrations that will probably come.

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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.





November 6, 2019 Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

Some time ago, I was listening to a person speak about love and replacing the word “love” with “forgiveness.” His argument was that if you truly expressed forgiveness, then you are a loving person. As I thought about it, I decided “acceptance” was a better word for me. I felt that if I could accept a person for who they are, then it would be easier for me to forgive, and thus love. This started me thinking about the present and past relationships in my life and how I could apply acceptance.

After intentional self-work in this area, I have found that life is more understandable and pleasant when I practice the art of acceptance.

Consider Relationships

We all have had concerns about relationships. We all wonder why others act a certain way towards us. We benefit emotionally, physiologically, and strategically by understanding where they are coming from and how their past experiences have molded them. Stephen Covey would use the phrase “seek to understand, before trying to be understood.” In other words, accept the person for where they are, before you feel you should be influencing them to be what you perceive is correct. In a bad situation, understanding the other person would be a big step towards forgiveness.

Consider Situations

Acceptance of situations has emotional, physiological and strategic benefits as well. It comes down to understanding what is happening instead of trying to control everything. I find this so true in my practice life when my patients have some sort of moderate to severe dental issue. Until they accept what is wrong and “take ownership” of the situation, there is very little that I can do to help them. Often, the worst thing you could do is to try to fix a bad situation without the patient having ownership of the problem, because if things go astray, it becomes your fault.

For Both Ourselves and Our Patients

The art of waiting for when the patient is ready to accept treatment—and the art of understanding, accepting, and positively influencing the patient during the waiting—have both become easier for me over time. Sometimes we need to have difficult conversations with patients to help them accept the truth. But oftentimes we simply need to better understand what they are thinking and why. And, the gentle way to get at this is to inquire why they are reluctant to move forward without a tone of judgment—instead, with genuine care.

One of the great discoveries of working with the public and patients so closely is that most of what we apply to them we can also apply to ourselves. Therefore, we can benefit from accepting who we are, our personal situation, and how those around us are trying to help us. These can be important keys to moving forward in our own lives. Remember, we all travel the same journey.

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About Author

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Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

Originally from Michigan, Dr. Myers moved to Maine in 1987 after completing a hospital residency program at Harvard and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. His undergraduate degree in biology and his dental degree were both earned at The University of Michigan. Upon first arriving in Maine, he worked for a short time as an associate dentist and opened his private practice in 1990. During the mid-90’s he associated himself with the Pankey Institute and became one of the first dentists to achieve the status of Pankey Scholar.




Happiness Is a Warm Puppy

August 30, 2019 Barry F. Polansky, DMD

When dentists are asked to use their imaginations to create a vision of the future, they usually see themselves as achieving their dreams, becoming successful and living the happy American dream. Using our imagination gives us a sense of control over our lives. I myself used the term “master of my own destiny” as my battle cry to create my practice philosophy. Was I accurate? Well, not to the degree I thought I would be. The old saying, “Man plans, and God laughs,” applies.

At the start of my career, I didn’t realize the effect that technology, the economy, advertising, and insurance would have on my plans. My definition of success at the start included words like accomplishment and achievement of a worthy goal. I learned the sense of well-being was to become an integral part of this.

Over four decades of practice, I learned that in order to live a life well-lived, certain components would be required. I could not have survived forty years if I had to go to work every day without the ingredients of a happy life.

The Ingredients of a Happy Life

The positive psychologists tell us that our well-being is dependent on five components. Dr. Martin Seligman, from the University of Pennsylvania, uses the acronym PERMA to describe these five.

P – Positive Emotion. For us to experience well-being, we need positive emotion in our lives. Any positive emotion such as peace, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, or love falls into this category – and the message is that it’s really important to enjoy yourself in the here and now as long as the other elements of PERMA are in place.

E – Engagement. When we’re truly engaged in a situation, task, or project, we experience a state of flow. Time seems to stop, we lose our sense of self, and we concentrate intensely on the present. This feels really good! The more we experience this type of engagement, the more likely we are to experience well-being.

R – Positive Relations. As humans, we are “social beings,” and good relationships are core to our well-being. Time and again, we see that people who have meaningful, positive relationships with others are happier than those who do not. Relationships really do matter!

M – Meaning. Meaning comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves. We all need meaning in our lives to have a sense of well-being. We need to create our own meaning with a sense of intent and purposefully design our own lives and practices accordingly.

A – Accomplishment/Achievement. Many of us strive to better ourselves in some way, whether we’re seeking to master a skill, achieve a valuable goal, or win in some competitive event. Flourishing in this way adds to the sense of wellness.

Happiness Is Subjective

All of the components together can be measured and hold the key to our well-being. Happiness, however, is about semantics. It’s about a subjective feeling.

Aristotle said it is “an expression of the soul in considered actions.” He called those actions virtues and said one could only measure the degree of happiness in a person’s life at the end of one’s life.

Freud said happiness can be found in lieben und arbiten—to love and to work.

And, Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” In truth, we cannot completely describe happiness, but we all know when we are happy.

Because the state of happiness is a present tense phenomenon, I have chosen what will make us happy in the future by what makes us happy now. That is why I have chosen Martin Seligman’s definition of well-being as defined by PERMA as a guide to a sustainable career and a life well lived. All of the PERMA components of well-being — positive emotions, engaging work, positive relationships, meaningful work and achievement, can be built into our practices.

Why Is Happiness Like a Warm Puppy?

Having an experience or two a day of true connection with patients can make all the difference in being satisfied at work. This simple definition of happiness is a good way to measure how you are feeling about your chosen career and practice life, because, if in the present of your everyday practice life, you feel moments of warmth (like holding a warm puppy), you will hold up well against the difficult moments, and you will have a rewarding career in dentistry.

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About Author

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Barry F. Polansky, DMD

Dr. Polansky has delivered comprehensive cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, and implant dentistry for more than 35 years. He was born in the Bronx, New York in January 1948. The doctor graduated from Queens College in 1969 and received his DMD degree in 1973 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Following graduation, Dr. Polansky spent two years in the US Army Dental Corps, stationed at Fort. Dix, New Jersey. In 1975, Dr. Polansky entered private practice in Medford Lakes. Three years later, he built his second practice in the town in which he now lives, Cherry Hill. Dr. Polansky wrote his first article for Dental Economics in 1995 – it was the cover article. Since that time Dr. Polansky has earned a reputation as one of dentistry's best authors and dental philosophers. He has written for many industry publications, including Dental Economics, Dentistry Today, Dental Practice and Finance, and Independent Dentistry (a UK publication).