dental practice improvementI had a business partner, Dr. Glen Wysel, who was with me throughout my time at Mercer Advisors, right through the envisioning and creation of the campus here in Scottsdale and the early development of Spear. He retired awhile ago and moved back to California, and even though we keep in touch a lot, I still miss him. I miss his loyal devotion because I knew I could always count on him as an ally in whatever we set out to do as an organization. I also miss him because, to me, he is the perfect embodiment of two qualities that I admire in a successful person: He is both content and driven.

Glen is almost always soft-spoken and relaxed, and he has the ability to make others around him feel relaxed, too. He has made a great life for himself in dentistry, and he knows it. In that sense, he is the picture of contentment. And the thing is, this sense of loving where he is in life is something he has always had.

At the same time, he made a great life for himself in dentistry by being unabashedly ambitious; you don’t get to go from being an independent dentist to an executive leader in a nationally recognized education company without being driven.

We tend to think of these characteristics as opposites – you are either happy and satisfied or relentlessly motivated to push for more – but the truth is these states of mind can, and should, co-exist. In fact, I think a person only achieves real success in life when they do.

(Click here to read the first part of our series on creating dental practice success in 2016.)

I have seen plenty of dentists who are content but not driven. These are the ones who are stuck in a comfort zone, where their contentment has become a kind of anesthetic, and they live the same life year after year. I have also seen many dentists who are relentlessly driven, but never happy – they keep achieving, but their achievements somehow feel hollow, often because their economic, personal and professional needs continue to outpace their advances. They’re doing more but not getting more from what they are doing.

The goal to shoot for then, I believe, is to be content and driven in equal measure – to recognize and appreciate the abundance you enjoy at a very deep level, while at the same time honoring who you are and what you are capable of by always challenging yourself. It’s a philosophy that says, “Life is great; now how can I make it better?”