Recently I ran across an old decoupaged plaque I made in my youth. It was a meaningful commentary I’d torn from a magazine, glued to a painted board and sealed with a clear coat. Oddly, I’d never hung it up, but kept it all these years.
In short, it was a father wishing his son well as he competed in his first sporting event. He said, “I hope you win, not for me, but for you, because winning is fun. But winning isn’t everything. Playing your best is everything.” Interestingly, as he continues his commentary to his son, he seamlessly moves from sports to life, and says, “I’m not talking about the game, son, I’m talking about life.”
In his closing advice, he admonishes him to be not only a good winner, but a gracious loser as well, and warns him once again that “winning isn’t everything,” but “trying your best” is what really counts in life.
I was reminded of those words as I presented a practice management program to the very bright and talented students at the University of Alabama’s School of Dentistry in Birmingham. While I didn’t use a sports analogy, I did caution those in attendance to always seek excellence in delivering preventive and restorative services to their patients, but never perfection. Further, I suggested that it’s not possible to be all things to all people, and that, sometimes, it’s best to listen to that inner voice, and not initiate treatment for some.
In other words, it’s not about “winning or losing.” It’s about being a professional and recognizing that always trying to give our best to those we serve is what really counts. Establishing a personal relationship with each patient and providing a “mountaintop” experience from start to finish is what really counts. Winning is great, winning is fun, but being content at the end of each day that we have offered our very best to those we serve is even better.
As I reflect upon my own thirty-five-year career as a fee-for-service practitioner, I don’t recall “winning or losing,” but I do remember providing care for some of the finest people in the world, and feeling content at the end of the day, that my teammates and I had given each our very best. Shazzam!
“Success is the maximum utilization of the ability you have.””