What A Dentist and an Olympic Wrestler Have In Common


I’ve always struggled with my weight and general fitness.  It is by far the area of my life that I simply haven’t been able to win at.  Like everything else it goes in spurts.  Right now I am in one of those spurts where I am actively working at it!

Back in 2012 I made a journey to losing 50 pounds.  It’s now 2016 and I have gained back 30 of the 50.

What happened?

I stopped doing the things that got me there.  I stopped having a coach.  I figured I could do it on my own.  I had a wonderful trainer who came to the office during my lunch hour and we went on a 2 mile jog together.  I was eating well.  And my coach was there to hold me accountable.

It was a slow downhill slope when I stopped using my coach/trainer.  The first few months were like normal.  Then I missed a day.  That turned into a week.  Then into a month.  Next thing you know I fell into old bad habits.

Sounds very much like our dental practices.  You get excited and do things well and then you lose steam and things just go back to the way things were.

I’ve made it a priority to get back into better health.  I knew that I couldn’t do it alone and needed some help.  Being a great wife, Mona hired a personal trainer for me.  The former trainer wasn’t able to work into my schedule, so she found a new one.  Lunch time was no longer a good option and I now needed someone who could come to our home at 5:30am.

The new trainer happens to be a former olympic wrestler.  A medal winner at that!

Here is a photo of him during his time as a wrestler.

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My workouts (I’m sure he’d hardly call them ‘workouts’) go by fast.  I just ask him about his time as a wrestler, how he got to that level, how he maintained that level, and all the stories that go with that experience.  I was really interested in hearing about the struggles.

What I found is that his struggles were no different than my struggles as a dentist.

Here are the key things I have taken from him so far.

Being the best requires practicing every day and constant improvement.

Now this seems to go without saying.  But his practice wasn’t just going to the gym and lifting weights.  There was a clear action plan.  He recognized where he needed improvement and specifically worked on those areas of his craft.

In dentistry too often we just do those things we are good at.  Next thing you know everyone around you is as good or even better than you at that and a few other things.

When’s the last time you sat down and practiced something – not on a patient and not at a seminar?

When’s the last time you wrote down the things you are good at and what you could do to be more efficient?

When’s the last time you looked into newer techniques and materials that could make your better, more efficient, more profitable?

Becoming an elite athlete meant hanging out with other elite athletes.

Noel didn’t reach this level of excellence by hanging out with wrestling bozos.  He purposely trained with those at his level, those who shared his aspirations, or were better than him.  He made it a point to be around those who were winners.

Do you want to be a great implantologist?  Then hang out with those who are great implantologists.  Find a mentor who has been there and done that and can give you guidance.  Find another dentist who is also willing to take this journey.  It’s always easier to accomplish something when you have someone travelling the journey with you.

Too often I meet dentists who want to achieve another level of excellence.  I ask them if they are friends with other dentists who can help them.  The answer is typically -“I don’t really like hanging out with other dentists.”  Well how in the hell are you suppose to get better if you don’t hang out with other dentists?  Last time I checked my non dentist friends don’t really have an interest in placing dental implants.

How did I get started in placing dental implants.  I hung out and learned directly from someone better than me – my oral surgeon.  I would hang out at his office on my day off.  I would often show up for my patient cases.  I constantly bothered him to teach me more.

He always worked with a coach.

Noel didn’t achieve elite level success without having a coach.  A coach doesn’t have to be more gifted than you.  A coach was someone who could recognize your ‘gaps’ or deficiencies.  A coach was someone who didn’t just tell you how great you were, but also challenged you to become better in your weaknesses.  In fact, a coach doesn’t have to be a singular person.

Do you have a dental coach?  Heck, what does a dental coach look like?

We have dental coaches all around us.  Your accountant should be a coach.  They should be coaching you on looking at your business numbers.  Your dental sales rep should be a coach.  He/She should be keeping you up to date with the latest materials and technologies.  He/She should be bringing you the latest educational offerings.

You should find an educator who you connect with.  Learn from them.  Take their classes, follow them on vacations, or learn from them on social media.  Hell, make it so they have to get a restraining order on you!

Too often we surround ourselves with people who simply say yes to us – typically it’s because we sign their paycheck.  I remember telling Noel how I didn’t feel like doing an exercise he wanted me to do because I sucked at it.  He told me he had many days like that.  But it was the duty of his coaches/friends to make sure he stayed on track and stayed focused on the big prize.  Then he gave me a mean look and flexed his muscles and I did exactly what he asked of me!

I know there isn’t an olympics for dentists.  And I know that what we do isn’t as physical or glamorous.  But it makes me feel great knowing that the struggles that I face are the same as those of elite level athletes.

There’s hope for me yet!


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