Obstacle #5: Challenging Old Beliefs

Overcoming our old beliefs and assumptions is where real breakthroughs happen. I remember about 10 years ago, I was working with a very progressive female dentist. She had been a hygienist for years before becoming a dentist and had built a very successful practice. This step in my career would turn out to be one of the most important for a lot of reasons but the primary reason is because she challenged what I thought I knew about dentistry and hygiene. Needless to say I learned a ton from her and I will be forever grateful.

One day, she came to me and said “Rachel, it’s time for you to start using your ultrasonics more. You’re running behind schedule too often and I rarely see you pull out your Cavitron unless you’re doing scaling and root planing.” I was holding on to old beliefs from hygiene school that hand-scaling was best (the reality is that we only had 2 ultrasonic units for about 30 students). I can’t imagine that I’d still be working pain free if it weren’t for my years using ultrasonics on all of my patients. And I “now know” that it’s better for my patients too. She worked with me to be sure I was confident in using this instrument more fully and she held me accountable by making sure there was a used cavitron tip on my tray every time she came into to do an exam. 🙂

I’m the first to admit that when I’m faced with a challenge to the way “I’ve always done things” I have a specific physical reaction. I feel resistance in my body; I know exactly how it feels. Over the years I’ve learned to welcome this feeling as a trigger that I’m about to learn something, I’m about to have a big breakthrough. That day was just the beginning of being challenged to step out of my comfort zone in order to grow.

This feeling is one I’m sure my clients experience when we have our coaching and workshop sessions. And we each have different ways of assimilating new information and changing our beliefs around it.

The next step is taking action. Its one thing to say “Yes, I believe that periodontal disease is a chronic, bacterial infection that has systemic effects for my patients” and quite another to be doing a complete diagnostic perio exam, presenting needed treatment, enrolling the patient and completing the therapy.

One of my favorite motivational writers and speakers, Jim Cathcart publishes a free e-zine that I encourage you to explore at www.cathcart.com.

In one of his issues, Jim says the following about our beliefs:

Know what you believe. Spend time determining just what it is that you believe is so.
Explore what you believe. Study and challenge your beliefs so that you can assure that it will stand up to scrutiny.
Live what you believe. Make sure that your day to day behavior is a reflection of what you believe. As someone once said, “if it is not affecting your actions, it is doubtful you believe it.”
Jim’s words really hit home for me and they play in my head while I’m teaching, coaching, treating patients. It’s not always the easiest thing to live our beliefs, but it’s the surest way to success.

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