The Two Principles That Define Winning in Dentistry

Over the past several weeks we have been up one side and down the other reviewing the key fundamentals of a Winning Team. We didn’t stop there, we talked about giving that Winning Team a winning playbook and we even talked about how to bring on and develop additional winning players.

All of this matters… but there is something that matters more and in fact is an even greater, more valuable, and instrumental characteristic of successful teams, coaches, players.

Actually, there are two principles that are more vital to winning than the ability of the players and they are something even the most sophisticated, advanced, well-developed playbooks can’t beat.

Without these – no matter how hard you play, no matter how great the talent, no matter your intentions or your intelligence – these are the undeniable, unmistakable, infallible, impossible to win without.

The first one is a must-have for every role you “play” as the Owner, Leader, Coach, Doctor, and Quarterback of team…


  • Of purpose.
  • Of success.
  • Of reasons why.
  • Of identity as a practice, doctor, team.
  • Of patient outcomes and ideals.

You see, I have talked to countless doctors who have had (by any ‘normal’ person’s standards), a wonderful career… above average income, generally a lifestyle comforted by a nice house, vacations, education for kids, and hopefully a happy spouse.

All of that sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s the point, right? To have all of those things.

But, if you listen deeper into the conversation, as I probe and ask questions, all of these things came at a cost, a sacrifice, a burden of effort that has left many doctors in a place of disdain, even resentment. No, not for their families and their lifestyles but for the way in which they had to make it happen.

Hard work. Which that’s not a bad thing, yet you do have to enjoy it. All success requires hard work but you ought to get to pick the type of work you are doing, don’t you think?

You have long hours, not necessarily chair side but maybe. More often it’s long hours doing administrative things, messing with charts, managing the business, or maybe even doing things others were paid to do.

I’ve yet to find a spouse who says they’d take anything over having the doctor home for dinner more often.

I could keep giving you a list, but the point is not to depress you. The point is that as you go through the journey you call a career, owning your practice, and earning a living… you are always serving two masters.

The bottom line is they knew something was missing. They, you, know that just because it appears “good enough” it doesn’t mean it can’t be better by finding the perfect harmony through clarity and being able to achieve a deeper level of significance and fulfillment.

The investment to get better, to be better, to win is only worth it when you have clarity of what winning is means for every aspect of your life.

Of course, I’m a family first kind of guy – dentistry is the vehicle for everything else to be made possible. However, you can’t just go head first into your business for decades on end, seldom coming up for a breath a few weeks year. Even then, it’s at the expense to your peace of mind. Are your vacations really vacations? How about when you get back to the office, still think of it as a vacation?

You can’t really live with autonomy, independence, and peace of mind if you are trying to follow two compasses. You are going to drive yourself crazy going multiple directions.

Aligning things to serve you is the only way to grow the practice in harmony with life, family, and other interests outside of the practice.

And by the way – this changes year to year, decade to decade, and chapter of your life. If you are still going about things the same as you always have (or worse yet, you have just been a feather in the wind following the trends of the industry), you are doing yourself a real injustice.

If the only thing new, fresh, and invigorating in your life is a piece of equipment, some fancy technology – and not your thinking, your vision, your income, your passion and your excitement for the future… you’ve got problems brewing. Either that or you are just settling for way less than you deserve working way too hard and sacrificing way too much than the rewards you are reaping.

I give you this wake-up call today because so often doctors are distracted working on all the wrong things. Trying to fix parts of the team or the practice that aren’t actually broken. They are just performing insomuch as the clarity they have on what winning actually is, looks like, and feels like.

Everyone needs not just the compass but the same map and direction to the goals.

Your compass has to have a true north and winning must be clearly defined in your mind and then clearly articulated and represented in the minds of your team.

When everything aligns with this, you could even say winning is easy because it requires so much less effort because you can now focus exclusively on this and eliminate everything else – everything that gets in the way of winning.

Going forward, there isn’t going to be a middle ground. There is nothing scary about that, it’s actually a good thing – as long as you commit to the one you want.

There is a different level of clarity for you than the team but clarity none the less. As the Leader you have to reverse engineer backwards to the decisions and actions of today based on your own clarity of purpose, philosophy, direction, future ambition, income and wealth desires. Clarity of where you want this thing to go, where you want to end up 2, 3, 5 maybe even 10 years from now.

There is a secret to figuring this all out.

A secret to being the master over your practice and not the other way around.

A secret to achieving vibrant growth that is sustainable and, get this – profitable – that doesn’t require more work, more hours, or even more volume of patients.

It’s about leverage, and not just the clinical aspect of dentistry but the business side too. Never forget that you will only earn as much as your team and your business is set-up to deliver; no matter your clinical skill, procedural repertoire, size of practice or anything else.

Now, that readies us for the second critical factor for success…


And I can summarize consistency in one concise phrase: Having the discipline to do more of what works. That means not getting bored or distracted or complacent. Yes, it really is that simple.

In sports, they talk about “winning formulas” for a reason. Most teams know how to win, it’s the execution that’s difficult. The entire off season is spent, not on coming up with brand new approaches, but getting better at the strategy that proven to win.

Doing more of what works is the hardest thing to do because it can be boring and mundane. Worse yet, there are forces all around you trying to distract you or persuade you that there is a better way.

I have seen more successful people run off course and go backwards from some level of success they once have achieved because of this very obstacle.

In your practice, you must stick to the principles that get you results by relying on this characteristic of the best teams. Consistency is what makes good people great.

  • Consistently do amazing phone calls, screen effectively, elevate patients, build relationships.
  • Consistently take pictures, engage patients, ask questions, be creators.
  • Consistently greet patients, establish emotional connection and never let it go.
  • Consistently execute impeccable substantive triangles.
  • Consistently focus on health not money or insurance.
  • Consistently bundle treatment, always go big picture.
  • Consistently schedule for goals, be future focused, make room for more opportunity.
  • Consistently execute productive and meaningful huddles and team meetings.
  • Consistently watch the game film and review your numbers, cases, patients.

The list goes on… chart notes, room set-up; treatment follow-up and follow-through; referrals, reviews, testimonials; getting paid up front, in full.

There is no more powerful success trait than that of consistency. I often use the saying “champions don’t need to be told they just need to be reminded” because that is actually the entire deal. You, me, your team, we all need reminded from time to time and refocused on the most pivotal actions that lead to results.

I’m certain you can instantly think of a list of things you used to do or you think are being done or you know sometimes happen that are all things if they were executed more consistently (without shortcuts), would lead to you having more predictable results.

People love to hear that there is something missing, some magic pill, some sure-fire one single strategy that is going to make all of the difference but the real truth, the answer that should be good news to you is: have clarity over what winning means for you and then back it up with unwavering consistency in executing what you know works. That is the fastest way to more significant and profitable results.