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July 2014

Beliefs and Limiting Beliefs

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(An excerpt taken from our Fortune Management book How to Create your Ideal Practice)

By Dr. Paul Bass

“Fortune has helped me transform my practice from a small, disorganized but busy practice into a large, efficient, organized, fun, and happy practice. The people I work with (staff) are very much my friends as well as a top-notch, dedicated team.”

—DR. SCOTT BARNETT, Pell City, Alabama

Because of the profound and controlling effects they have on virtually all outcomes that manifest in our lives, beliefs must be included in any review of the methods and personal technologies offered by Fortune Management. Whether conscious or unconscious, our beliefs are paramount in determining what shows up and/or does not show up in our day-to-day lives.

A powerful example can be found in certain indigenous tribes in Australia. The belief is simply that one can be killed by an animal bone imbued with mystical powers. To this day, Aboriginal tribesmen will “point the bone” at an enemy — just pointing, no physical contact — with certainty that the enemy will be dead within four days. Within twenty-four hours of being ritually cursed this way, victims develop flu-like symptoms. Within forty-eight hours, they become severely dehydrated, and within four days, they are usually dead.

What kills them? The bone? Or the belief that the bone had the power to take away life? In a tribe with a collective consciousness of the power of “pointing the bone,” the belief alone will consistently lead to the victim’s demise. If the power of belief is sufficient to take away life, one should never underestimate this power’s absolute influence on far less complex issues, such as specific results that do or do not show up in the management arena of health-care practices.

We all have a mixed bag of beliefs. Some are empowering, and some are disempowering or limiting. I am reminded of one participant in three consecutive seminars who very congruently declared that she would leave the seminar and purchase a winning lottery ticket. The first time she returned with her winnings, the rest of us were amazed. The second time, we were stunned. The third time, we realized that we had stumbled upon profound truth. The interesting thing about life is that most people who stumble over profound truth will simply get back up, brush themselves off, and walk away as if nothing actually happened. (Of course, you’ve never done this, have you?)

On the disempowering side, I know that any practice management coach could list numerous limiting beliefs that are commonly uttered by doctors and staff members, with no idea how much of their self-limiting mindset is being revealed, such as:

“There aren’t enough new patients to go around . . .”  “Patients don’t really care about their health . . .”  “I’ll die with a hand piece in my hand . . .” 
“You can’t practice with excellent quality and do big numbers . . .”  “Hygiene is just a necessary evil, not a profit center . . .”  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

By recognizing limiting beliefs, we create an opportunity to crush them. The most effective way to do so is to have an experience that violates your limiting beliefs. This can be done internally or externally.

An internal (personally experienced) example would be to change a system in the office, and then monitor that system, and thus create a new, empowering belief based on the new result. For example, a practice could increase its hygiene effectiveness rate through a proactive hygiene reactivation game plan. When it goes from thirty percent effectiveness to sixty percent effectiveness, the resulting increase in hygiene revenue and referrals to the operative department are undeniable! Obviously, a new belief can be created this way, and when effectiveness jumps to eighty or ninety percent, the new belief reflects the polar opposite of the old limiting belief.

External (observed evidence) examples can also be extremely influential. Let’s say a dental team visits a colleague’s office where the daily operations consistently demonstrate results that blow all the old, standard limiting beliefs totally out of the water. This can radically alter that team’s view of how dentistry can be practiced.

Knowing how powerful this can be, I once asked a client, Dr. Shellhouse in Ohio, to create an opportunity for other dental teams to visit his practice and see Fortune’s concepts in action. The doctor and his team created The Dayton Dental Academy for one purpose and one purpose only. That purpose was to crush limiting beliefs about what is or is not possible. Virtually every dental team that has visited The Academy says that it was one of the most valuable days in the history of their practice.

In summary, one of the most important roles for any Fortune coach is to help others identify their limiting beliefs, and then assist them in creating rock-solid, totally grounded, and life-changing beliefs that will pay handsome dividends over and over again. By doing so, we help build legendary practices that will create legacies beyond the lifetime of any one dentist, and, in doing so, we transform countless lives. Perhaps more important, a transformed practice will provide better dentistry and will affect the health and well-being of thousands of patients.