In my experience, the most valuable thing I can do for family, my friends, my colleagues and our specialty is to ask the hard questions and give the hard answers when asked. Yes, saying so is awfully presumptuous. Yes, I’m sure most orthodontists agree with your assessment of this statement as pure hubris… But the fact remains.
I don’t expect the AAO to thank me for putting their collective feet to the fire even though they have implemented, what is for them, massive change in the last few years. Change that has come directly out of the complaints raised by and issues pointed out by me and others brave enough and relentless enough to challenge the establishment and refuse to accept the standard responses.
I don’t expect individual orthodontists to thank me for calling them on their “way it’s always been done” mentality and refusing to politely let it go even though many of the individuals I’ve had intense struggles with manage to break through their self imposed barriers soon after our confrontations.
I would like to apologize for those who I’ve upset and wronged when I went too far or was just plain wrong and hope they will forgive me. There is no way to know where the line is or how far we can push the envelope without finding the edges so my apology comes with a request for forbearance in the future since I have no plans to stop doing what I do… One must take the bad with the good and understand that sometimes things work out as we hoped and other times, well, we learn!
There are very few human beings who are willing to challenge family or friends in a meaningful or constructive way. It’s just too painful and there is too much risk. That plus there is almost no reward even if you pull it off – well there appears to be no reward for the challenger anyway. Orthodontists are kinda like human beings only more so. We are generally terrified of giving offense and therefore run from the difficult questions and almost never give honest assessments when asked. This is a big part of the reason our speciality is in the state we find ourselves. So, I’ll say it again. The best and most valuable thing that I bring to the table is a willingness to ask hard questions and to give honest assessments. My reward is seeing others enjoy massive success beyond what they ever thought possible once they get their head right. And seeing others succeed is my absolute favorite pastime!
Does this mean that I get it right every time? Absolutely not. Does this mean that my assessments, conclusions and “answers” are correct? No frigging way! I screw up all the time and because I make so many mistakes I’ve had to learn to be accomplished when it comes to contrition. But being wrong, admitting it and making amends is a small price to pay for all that we accomplish when we are willing to ask the hard questions when it comes to our personal lives, our friendships, our practices and your member organization. Most of the time it takes repetition, volume, assertiveness and stubbornness bordering on being unreasonable to get anywhere but once significant change is accomplished, others join the push for positive change, momentum grows and it all seems a small price to pay.
The point of all this being that I would like to invite all of you to speak up, speak out and take chances for your family, your practice, your peers and your speciality. The world is changing around us and if we want to thrive in the new reality we must harness all our collective intellectual assets to discover new and better ways of doing everything we have taken for granted over the last century.

4 thoughts on “Popularity is Overrated

  1. such a great piece Ben…keep doing what you’re doing for all of us!

  2. Ben, Nice! You are one of the brightest men I have ever met. You have the smarts, courage and boldness it takes to spark discussion and change. I am amazed at your content and amazing writing abilities. You encourage…and prod us to be better. Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks Clarke! I just wish I was half as creative and innovative as you are.

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