Stop Thinking Like A Dentist

May 11, 2020
*This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase from these links we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.


It has become a joke to my students and consulting clients that “WTF” doesn’t mean to me what it normally stands for.  I use it as an acronym, referring to a disease that is epidemic among dentists.   It seems that all dentists want to know; “What’s The Formula”?

And, with today’s chaos, everyone and their mother is trying to promote THE solution, THE roadmap, THE plan and THE formula, that will help you through this trying time.

I am not a mathematician, well versed in CHAOS THEORY.  What I can tell you for certain is that there is NO SINGLE FORMULA.  That’s because the environment is too fluid, the future, unknown, and YOUR situation too unique.

What you THINK might happen, probably will not.  The law of UNFORESEEN CONSEQUENCES will prevail, as it always does, especially when human beings are involved.

As I sit, sheltered at home, I watch the law of unforeseen consequences play out in my garden, as spring has bloomed.  The pandemic has caused a reduction in traffic, as fewer people are going to work.  The reduction in traffic has resulted in fewer deer being hit and killed by cars.  More deer are surviving, so their numbers are greater.  And now, I watch as significantly increased numbers of them traverse my yard, devouring the plants and shrubs in my garden.

I’m afraid that the small Japanese Maple tree that I bought for my wife 5 years ago for Mother’s Day, might not survive this Pandemic.

Get the point?

Unintended, perhaps unforeseen consequences!  Where will they pop up in your business?

So, STOP THINKING LIKE A DENTIST.  Yes, it’s hard.  After all, you are one!  I’m one too.

I benefitted from a family background of business and entrepreneurship.  I learned about business thinking and principles at the dinner table.  I’ve always marveled at dental practice’s lack of fundamental business principles.

It’s the reason I’ve been teaching business principles to dentists since 1984.  It’s the reason I devour business books, none of which are directed towards dentistry; so I can help dentists build better, more sound businesses.

In his book, Good To Great, Jim Collins relates what he calls the “Stockdale Paradox”, referring to how Admiral James Stockdalesurvived as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.  Or rather, how others did not.

Admiral Stockdale, when interviewed, related how the optimists in the group of prisoners did not fare very well in the “Hanoi Hilton”.  The one’s that kept saying to themselves, “I’ll be home for Christmas” we’re the ones who suffered the most and broke.  But Stockdale got by, despite the torture, because he had both an unwavering faith that he would survive coupled with the ability to confront the “BRUTAL FACTS”.  These 2 things sound incompatible.  That’s the “paradox”.

Collins pointed out that the leaders of GREAT companies embodied the same attitude that Admiral Stockdale had.  They had both faith in their survival, that they communicated to their teams, as well as the ability to confront the harsh realities they often faced and acted upon them.

Today, there are plenty of BRUTAL FACTS to confront.  The challenge is to find the ones that are relevant to YOU.

Here’s a formula for you to use.

One, ask the right questions.  Two, collect the data.  Three; analyze the data.  Four; develop a plan of action.  Five; implement the plan.  Six; monitor the plan’s effectiveness.  Seven; repeat the process, regularly.

The BRUTAL FACT is that you are challenged with reopening your practice.  You are dealing with cash flow issues, infection control issues, rising costs, staff issues and patient issues, all on a daily basis in real-time.  This is no easy feat.

When will you have the time and energy to look at the trends and develop strategies that will allow you to pivot and to face the “brutal facts”?

It’s easier to put your nose to the grindstone and just WORK. Start helping patients and generating revenue.  That will be your priority and that will be your focus.  And, that can actually get you into trouble.

That’s why YOU need help.  Now, more than ever, you need someone to help you navigate the unique set of circumstances surrounding you, you practice, you staff and your market.  You need an objective evaluator and strategic advisor.

We want to help.

Go to: to get your free Ebook and schedule a free consultation.

That’s the least you can do to help get things moving in the right direction.

Faith, is also a valuable commodity and might be in short supplyright now. Faith is the second part of Stockdale’s survival mechanism. It too can be stoked by the right, advisor and consultant; a practice priest, rabbi, pastor or imam, if you would, can help you boost your faith.

Facts and Faith were Stockdale’s keys to survival.  They might be yours as well.

Don’t wait for the priest to be called for your “last rights”.  Don’t stick your nose to the grindstone without looking around you.  And, don’t ignore the brutal facts.  Do something positive RIGHT NOW.

Indeed, most of us will survive.  Just how well YOU survive is a matter of what YOU choose to believe and do.  Contact us now.


Michael, Laurie and the PPS team

Practice Success Insights

Sign up to receive insights into building a successful practice via email with the free Practice Perfect Pearls Newsletter.
Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

Book a FreeStrategy Session

Latest Articles

How to Stop Cancellations... without spending more.

Learn how successful practices ensure their appointment slots are filled... and their patients keep coming back!


The Proven Way to
Reboot Your Practice...

Increase profitability, decrease stress and achieve your goals with proven ways to ensure your practice thrives


From Hello to Hugs

Get the sensational book on how to turn callers into raving fans. A guide to making MORE from LESS in your dental practice.


Join Michael LIVE for the FREE Monthly Coffee With the Coach Webinar

Invite your entire team and get expert advice from an industry expert on a new, timely topic every month that you can implement in your practice right away.