We orthodontists are obsessed with the latest tactic/tip/pearl to do something “better” or faster or more effectively. No matter whether it’s clinical or practice management or marketing or HR, we love nothing more than the latest hot idea or gimmick. And this is perfectly fine as tactics are one important aspect of running an effective practice/business. What we are much less inclined to address, however, are our core beliefs, philosophical positions and/or the strategic thinking necessary for effective use of great tactics.

We orthodontists are supremely satisfied that our core beliefs about treatment, patients, pricing, business and just about everything else are 100% accurate. Where this “knowledge” comes from is a mystery but almost all of us believe that we do things “the right way” and to deviate from that is to be substandard. Of course the flaw in this philosophy is that there are so many ways to do just about everything we do. Perhaps this is why so many in the profession seek consensus – to try and justify how they do things as THE right way? The problem is that the results we get are directly tied to our core beliefs – much more so than to any of the external factors that we orthodontists so love to blame for our lack of success (blaming external forces is our ego trying to protect itself btw). In this way if you are very happy with your results then keep doing what you are doing. But if you are unhappy with your results, no amount of awesome tricks, tips, pearls or tactics will help you if your core beliefs are the cause of your struggles (and they almost always are).

Give me 5 minutes to talk to any orthodontist and I can tell just about everything about their practice – how they practice, what they believe, what their team is like, what their results are like (both clinically and in the business), what their patients think, what their biggest obstacles are and what their biggest opportunities are. It’s entertaining to pull this party trick. People have a very hard time believing that I know what I’m talking about when I’ve “never visited their practice, don’t know anything about them and don’t know what I’m talking about”. But despite these protestations either online or in person, I rarely miss the mark. How is this possible? Well I can tell you it’s not that complicated. I’m not a prophet, I’m just very experienced in what ails orthodontists both through personal experience and by helping other orthodontists. I can also tell you that mindset is at the core of everything we do and is the driver of our success or failure. This is just about the only thing we discuss in our peer group both online and in person. It’s so much fun to watch someone with mediocre results join the group, have exponential growth in their happiness and success in just a couple years and then ask them why they had so much improvement. The answer is always the same – “I just figured out who was doing what I wanted to do and tried to imitate them in thought and action. The successful orthodontists are always willing to help and share!” It’s also interesting that even in our peer group where mindset is the central focus, not everyone gets it. Some still adhere to old mindsets and this makes them stand out as if they were wearing a nametag proclaiming the fact. Such is life. I still have hope for them and maybe one day the light switch will get flipped. As I’ve done for many years now, I’ll continue to do my part to change the profession one mind at a time!

In clinical practice, mindset is also important. What we do is, by and large, very simple though we love to set policy based on outliers. I’ve said this for years but a few months ago Marc Ackerman and I wrote a book carrying Enhancement Orthodontics to the next level and detailing the Straighter Philosophy. We had a blast writing it and love hearing feedback – positive or negative – from our readers. If you want a totally different perspective on what we do and the chance to win a new mindset that will aid you in the current dental landscape while preparing your most valuable asset for what is to come then pick up a copy of Straighter The Rules of Orthodontics. It’s all of $49.95 and if you’re unhappy after reading it then we will refund all 5 of your ten dollar bills.

Guys, this stuff ain’t hard. Stop working so hard to make it so. Don’t let “the way we have always done it” rule your life out of fear of change or peer pressure. Think for yourself and utilize the massive amount of information available online these days to your advantage instead of chasing tactical rabbits while ignoring the fact that your core belief system may be inappropriate and outdated in the current dental landscape.

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