Breaking Bad Beliefs. Building Empowering Beliefs.

Published on
April 15, 2024

“We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds.” — Roger Ebert

A dentist client of mine, complained that although her hygiene department is busier than ever, her chair was emptier!

I took a closer look and found, as I pointed out to her, that her diagnostic percentage rate was in the low 20’s, which meant that only about 24% of the patients she saw were being recommended any kind of treatment.

So I asked, “What is keeping you from diagnosing more?”

Her response was, “I am conservative in my diagnosing, it’s what I learned in school and how I have always been.”

My b.s. (belief system) meter shot through the roof. This was an excuse, it’s what limiting beliefs are used for.

What’s a limiting belief and why care about it?

Let’s explore this idea and see what we can do with it to grow as a person, a dentist, and your business.

Let’s pick up where I left off with the dentist...

This prompted more questions from me; “I got that, and I don’t ever want you to overdiagnose, ever. Alternatively, might there be times when a patient could be presented with an option that they may accept if they only knew it was possible?”

Pause the story, back to limiting beliefs…

Most of us don’t give much thought to why we do what we do. If we did, we would probably find ways to succeed more often than not. And so nothing in this world is so powerful as our beliefs. They dictate the direction of our lives, for good or bad, and they seemingly come out of nowhere. But the thing is, they actually do come from somewhere.

So where do your beliefs really come from?

Simply put, many if not most of them are developed when you are a child and stay with you into adulthood. And others you pick up along the way, like in dental school. They are built by experiences, good or bad. The problem is they don’t always serve you well.

Most people are completely oblivious to the power that their own thoughts have. Beliefs carry emotion, and emotion turns to action. Those beliefs then influence the way we live. Whether you hold negative or positive beliefs about relationships, finances or your own abilities, they all carve out the path that is your life.

You see, even though a dental practice is in the healthcare business, you need to start thinking like a retail business in how you tell the world about the amazing services you can do.

Back to my dentist...You might be a conservative dentist and think, for example, that those old amalgam fillings are just fine, and why try to “upsell” a patient something she doesn’t need. TRUTH: People don’t buy what they need, they buy what they want!!!!!!

What you don’t know is that your patient would love a more natural looking smile because she just got a new job where she is speaking with people all day. Aesthetics have become a lot more important to her now. Your job as her dentist is to show her what’s possible, then let her decide.

They get options when they buy a car, eat at a restaurant, go to the hair salon, shop for clothes, and so on.

And so I asked the doctor one more question, “Your patients don’t know what’s possible, they depend on you for that, and I know you want to take the best possible care of them, so would it be ok to just give them options, let them know what’s possible? Customers, your patients can decide what they want, but they can’t if you don’t empower them with knowledge of what’s possible.”

What I am showing you is that you’re not stuck with the limiting beliefs you have. Beliefs can be changed, and should be, if they are not serving you. All it takes is digging a little deeper and you can turn these beliefs into empowering beliefs. And in doing so, you can change the course of your life for the better.

Here are the steps to change negative thoughts into empowering beliefs:

First, identify and define the limiting belief and find three or four supporting pieces of evidence for it. In my example, the dentist’s limiting belief is that “I am a conservative dentist.”

Next, find the supporting beliefs, or evidence, you have that are holding up this limiting belief. In this case they are 1. It’s what I was taught in school, 2. I’ve always done it this way, 3. Patients don’t want to spend money on dentistry they don’t need, and 4. Not being conservative means I am upselling.

Then turn these three or four statements around. For example, “Patients don’t want to spend money on dentistry they don’t need” becomes “Patients will spend money on treatment they want if they know what’s available”; or “Not being conservative means I am upselling.” becomes “Presenting options to my patients is giving them the best experience and helps them get what they want.''

And once again, back to my dentist client… After this coaching session, within just a couple of weeks, the dentist's diagnostic rate went up to 32%, then to 41%, and now maintains an average at about 47%. What’s beautiful is that not once did she overdiagnose, transgress any personal or professional ethics, and patients are happier with new options for their smiles and comfort. Oh, and yes, as an outcome, restorative production is going up...and up.

The power of our beliefs is everything.

Own that power.

Make it work for you.