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As a reminder, akrasia or being akratic is characterized by weakness of will resulting in action against one’s better judgment. In respects to these two articles, we are looking at the top 5 stressors in dentistry that hold us for ransom by breaking our will to succeed. We will take up with the third largest area of stress for the general dentist:

  1. Fear of making a mistake. This fear presents itself when we are paralyzed by uncertainty that we might possibly make a mistake. It appears when doctors fail to add various types of treatment for our patients. We fail to do molar endo, or learn to do implants or ortho. It can even effect our diagnosis to the point of not really presenting higher end quality treatment and, instead, just presenting a huge filling or refering everything out. I was speaking with a doctor last week that was struggling to survive. I asked if they did any extractions, say kids, large crown and bridge, ortho, endo, implants, TMJ, etc. The answer was “no” to each and every question. They only wanted to do bread and butter fillings on adults. They are being scared into failure. These are procedures each of us should be capable of doing. I assure you that if you are ever sued, have several complaints with the State Board for a particular service, or get a bad review about something you or your staff did, you will have a tendency to stop doing that service to avoid any unpleasantness. This will break your will to strive. The biggest lie that you can live is to believe that your performance and other people’s opinion equal your self-worth. Everyone makes mistakes and most of us find it a pretty good teacher. Fear of mistakes is sort of like negative goal setting. The more you think about it the more likely you create the situation for it to happen again. John Maxwell says this: “Don’t let your situation or circumstances dictate your results. Problems are opportunities”.
  2. Red tape/bureaucracy. This comes from many different directions. I spoke to a dentist in Chicago that was literally leaving practice because she did not want to deal with insurance companies, state rules and regulations, staffing issues, etc. These intrusions into our daily lives are common and will only get worse. We have to embrace the change and make the corrections in order to get back to a stress-free day. You can either be paralyzed by obsessing about the red tape and bureaucracy or learn to deal with it and move on to more important things.
  3. A general sense of a feeling of persecution. Some of you won’t even consider or understand this, but anyone with a poor self-image has found him or her self under a magnifying glass. I struggle with this, as do many others. No one likes to go to the dentist. Staff tends to be more demanding. Consumers expect results that are almost impossible to deliver. Your spouse or significant other doesn’t understand how this stress is affecting you at home. You get the picture. There is a heavy load on our backs and it feels more and more difficult to carry the burden.

In life and in business, you can have excuses or you can have results. But not both! Failure is not an excuse to quit trying. It is an opportunity to learn, adjust your approach, and try again.   While there are 5 top stressors in dentistry, the final straw is when you begin to think that you are the only one that feels these pressures. It’s the brown pasture syndrome where you feel that you are in the worst place, alone, and helpless. The first step in taking back your future is to recognize the actual obstacles that are holding you back, face them head on, and move on to the next level. Lose your excuses and find your results. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
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