Monday, November 22, 2010

The Keys to Professinal Success and Happiness

The Keys to Professional Success and Happiness

The Principles---Practices---Performance---Profits of Successful Professional practices.

A CODE for a better, more fulfilling, rewarding, and profitable practice and life.

I trust that you will read, think about and apply these ideas with as much diligence and thought that I put into sharing these with you.

Is Professionalism Dead??

If you ever visit the Mayo Clinic in North Scottsdale, you’ll see banner written on the wall when you enter that suggests the time honored meaning of a True Professional:

“The only interest of the physician should be the
best interest of the patient.”
Charles Mayo

Wow!! Is this really true? Well if it really, really is, then why is all the talk and the rage that dentists respond to is “I need more new patients!”
I’m not for a moment suggesting the importance of new patients to any and every professional practice, but I am asking the question is that the primary focus of your practice? And if it is why is it?

What if…take a deep breath and think…what if (those of you who profess Judeo-Christian values)…what if, for just a day, for just a week, or maybe if you are so bold, a month…you turned your focus, you know the light, off yourself and your needs for making more money (isn’t that the goal of more new patients) and focused on doing the absolute best for each and every patient you served?

What would that look like? How would that feel? What do you think would happen? I’m not saying you would not be taking care of your costs, your overhead, practice and personal, but if you are a true professional, then I must remind you, that your actions and your goals speak louder than the words you speak. The same is true for me.
If your goal was to care for people…not in a religious sense but in a biologic sense, (read Stress without Distress by Hans Selye, MD.) if your prime goal was to do the best you could for every person you saw, for the sake of caring for people…I submit to you that your life and practice would change in a dimension that you never thought possible.

How do I know? Well, 33 years of working one-on-one with dentists of all shapes and sizes suggests again that success leaves clues. Those in pursuit of money never have enough, no matter how much they have. This group of ‘business men and women’, not ‘professional men and women’, are NOT HAPPY. They are NOT FULFILLED because you see, they can never be fulfilled. Fulfillment is a spiritual ‘quality of life thing’ not a material, how much money can I make and spend thing.

The marks of a professional are:

· Competence in a specialized body of knowledge and skill.
· An acknowledgement of specific duties and responsibilities toward the individuals it serves and toward society.
· The right to train, admit, discipline and dismiss its members for failure to sustain competence and observe the duties and responsibilities for the good of their patients or clients.

I ask you, is Professionalism dead in dentistry?

Love to have your response and thoughts, no matter what they are.

Dr. Michael Schuster
Schuster Center for Professional Development (My blog site where you will see this posted)

Pass this on to your friends and colleagues and ask them the same question.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Different Kind of School

A Different Kind of School

When I was a young dentist I was blessed to meet 4 people that changed my life. What I learned from these 4 people had nothing to do with dentistry directly, but it had everything to do with it.

I’d have to say that the most important and powerful thing I ever learned was how


Gaining control over money changed the rest of my life experience.

Later I created a place where dentists could learn to free themselves of money. I’d have to say that this is the most important thing that I’ve done with my life. It is a very simple idea but has an enormous capacity to FREE oneself and become the best human being and dentist you have the capacity to become. It also enables you to enjoy your life rather than be anxious, frustrated and distressed throughout your life.

It starts with a fundamental idea that we are TWO-NATURRED. We have a physical nature and we have a spiritual nature. If the physical (money, material acquisition) dominates your time and existence, then it crowds out the possibility of developing your spiritual nature.

You can’t give to money what it can’t give to you. If you give all your thoughts and energy to the making, accumulating of money, and what you think it will give you, then you will fail to gain what money can’ t give you: peace of mind, fulfillment, an anxiety free life, and only what a focus on developing your ‘higher nature’, the ‘spiritual aspect’ of your life can give to you .

If you live predominantly below the line (for money and material possessions) then you will always wonder why you don’t or can’t develop significant relationships; a wonderful relationship with you spouse, your children, the people you work with, significant friends and wonderful relationships with your patients and colleagues. Those who live below the line, never have enough, and even when they do accumulate money and material possessions, they always have the knowing feeling that it isn’t enough…because it isn’t.

The more you think and act in conflict with nature, the less peace, fulfillment and happiness are yours no matter how hard you try, how much money you make and how many things you own, no matter what you do, it will never be enough.

Let me explain:

· You are a slave to money if everything you do is for the sake of making money.
· You are a slave to money if every day you plan your day around making money.
· You are a slave to money if your predominant thought process surrounds the making, keeping and accumulating money.
· You are a slave to money if money drives all your decisions and choices.

Most people falsely believe that if they make enough money or have enough money that somehow they are FREE of money.
The exact opposite occurs in their lives. These people become slaves in the world that they have created in their minds. They are rarely happy unless they are pursuing more money and that is a temporary thing.

Another group is always afraid to spend money. They are money hoarders. They drive 30 year old cars and live in the cheapest surroundings, and are always looking for the best deals. Money drives all their choices. These people are also SLAVES TO MONEY.

Another large group (maybe the same people) work primarily for money. This group will do mindless, boring work that they don’t even want or like to do because of either the money or the benefits. These people are enslaved with ‘golden handcuffs.” I have a brother in law that went to work for John Deere when he was 18 and retired when he was 48 and he told me,

“I hated every day I went to work for 30 years.”

For 30 years he was a slave to money and the benefits of his job (which represent money)

My friend Jacob Needleman who wrote Money and the Meaning of Life suggests that much has been written about money; how to make it, invest it, save it, 401K’s, pension plans, etc and of course all of this is very, very important, but what is even more important is the RELATIONSHIP that you have with money.

In my world, consultants and management companies prey on the money dominated thinking of our culture. They teach dentists primarily to make produce more and more money and the vast majority of their clients become even GREATER SLAVES to MONEY. The old adage, I owe, I owe, so off to work I go seems to fit the majority.

They go from interest in making more money; to a predominate focus of producing more money; to becoming SLAVES to MONEY,to becoming ADDICTED TO MONEY. Another way of saying this is anything that you are a SLAVE TO is CONTROLLING YOU. This easily leads to DEPENDENCY which ultimately leads to an ADDICTION.

Money becomes the central driving activity of your life.
You are happy when you are making it, and you are anxious, irritable, frustrated, distressed and eventually depressed when you aren’t. This also explains why dentists often tell me that they want to be busy. They can no longer relax. They rarely feel peaceful unless they are busy making money.

It’s relatively easy to teach people to make more money. That’s a no brainer!! It’s simple but not as easy to teach people to keep more of what they make. Time catches up with all of us. Around the ages of 42-50, people start looking forward and realize that there is less light ahead in the tunnel than behind. This is the time when many, but certainly not all, begin to get serious about money. Getting serious about money means evaluating your relationship to money and how money may be controlling your life and practice.

Getting serious about money creates a different kind of thinking.

It requires a change in attitude about what money is and isn’t in your life. What it can or can’t do for you in your life. You may begin to realize that you ARE NOT FREE, and unless you think and act different with MONEY in your life you will never be FREE. But just because you have this awareness, doesn’t mean that you stop letting MONEY CONTROL YOU. In fact, you may become more pre-occupied with than you were before and become even more DEPENDENT on MONEY than you were before.

Why is all this important?

Why are there so many mediocre dentists? Why are there so many average dentists? What are there so few EXCEPTIONAL DENTISTS? Why are there so little EXCEPTIONAL ANYTHING in our culture today?

My response is that mediocre and average people in any walk of life are more driven by money than they are driven by becoming the best they can be to make some difference in the world. Becoming the best you can become for the sake of others is ABOVE THE LINE THINKING, not BELOW THE LINE THINKING. The more secular a person is or becomes the more they are driven by money.
There are five conditions to achieve EXCELLENCE in DENTISTRY. I should know. I had to go through the same process myself. I’ve been studying this since 1974 and working one-on-one with dentists since that time. I’m only going to cover one condition. If you don’t achieve the first, the rest don’t make any difference because they will never occur in your life anyway.

1ST Condition

You have to GET CONTROL OF MONEY so that you can get beyond it and MOVE UP. If you come to an understanding of what MONEY can do for you and what it can’t, then you will spend your life STUCK in the MONEY, SAFETY, SECURITY, SURVIVAL DOMAIN of LIFE and never move up to reach higher levels of your potential as a human being and a dentist.

You will:

· Do anything to stay as busy as you can be.
· You will do anything that makes you MORE MONEY
· You will compromise yourself, your values, even deliver mediocre or average dentistry to get more money.
· You will develop a practice that is production and money driven, not patient and quality of care driven.
· This isn’t about you, it’s about human nature.
· If you don’t learn how to fulfill your most powerful needs, and what money can and can’t do for you, you will continually be pulled down into your LOWER NATURE.
· I didn’t make these rules. These are the rules of nature.
· Understand these rules and learn how to apply them to your life and practice, and your whole world changes.
· Violate these rules of nature, and you will suffer anxiety, distress, frustration, anger, despair and eventually depression and burnout.

Remember, you are supposed to be living on a roll and growing.

The strongest pull of all human needs is SURVIVAL, then SECURITY and SAFETY. If any human being allows these needs to dominate their life, then you can be sure that MONEY, the making of it, the accumulation of it will dominate their thinking and behavior. In order to achieve SURVIVAL, SAFETY and SECURITY in your life, it is vital that you learn what can provide SURVIVAL, SAFETY and SECURITY for you and what can’t!

You have to become FREE of this survival thinking and behavior to MOVE UP beyond simply your LOWER NATURE or (your physical nature) will dominate your life and your practice.

Jacob Needleman is right. Money is important, there has never been a culture (like ours) where money play such a dominate role in our lives.

Become FREE of money doesn’t mean that money isn’t important. It simply means that you have put money in its rightful place, and that is not to dominate your life and practice.

In my small world, I watch dentists taking advanced technical training, filling the classes of the current technical gurus, and yet little or nothing of what they are learning is actually applied in their every day practices. WHY? Because whether they are in SURVIVAL or they ACT like they are in survival. Money dominates their life and their practice and their world.


Until any professional becomes FREE of money there is no way that the quality of CARE DELIVERED will match the SCIENCE that has been invented.

The purpose of MASTERING MONEY is so that you can get beyond it and it doesn’t MASTER YOU, YOUR LIFE and YOUR LIFE.

If you can Master money in your life, your life will be vastly different, better and you will reach more of your potential.
The tools and strategies that I have developed into a system enable any dentist to become a MASTER OVER MONEY.

One day you’ll understand the importance of all this. That will be the day when you are TRULY BEYOND MONEY. You will live and practice in a higher domain. A place where few go, but once in this place, it is a far different kind of human existence.
A balance between both natures occurs, and the spiritual aspect of our human nature becomes a far bigger and more important aspect of your human existence. You will begin to live with a higher order of human beings.

Wow, think on this. If I were you I’d copy it, share it with my spouse, best friends, accountant, financial planner but I’d first take it seriously in your own life.

This IS life changing stuff…it is transformational and I’m sorry to say, a very few really understand the importance of this message.

Dr. Michael Schuster

I alone am responsible for the content of this message.

I’d like to refer you to page 103-110 in Jacob Needleman’s landmark book, Money and the Meaning of Life. Rethinking what money is and isn’t in your life may be the most important transformational activity in your entire career.