Now that I am in my sixth decade, I feel lucky that I can remember back that far. I can remember I felt I was quite special in that I accomplished a lot at a young age. I knew what I wanted and no one and nothing was going to get in my way. Three years of college, three and a half years of dental school, post-grad training … the world was my oyster! It seemed everything was coming to me easily. I knew best … or so I though.
So what advice do I wish I had listened to back then?
There were some specialists who tried to befriend me to help me grow … so they said. I was skeptical, didn’t understand why and thought that there was an ulterior motive. I thought their advice was a sham to get me to send patients to them. I didn’t understand “quid pro quo,” paying it forward.
The mentors in my life, when I finally let them in, helped open my eyes to what I see. Now I get any opportunity to help others and feel it is an honor to do so. Let others into your life. They really do want to help you grow. A teacher, mentor and parent get pleasure in seeing the success of their efforts.
I had an uncle who thought the day I graduated from dental school, I was a wealthy man. I realize now he was right, but it has nothing to do with money. Coming out of school with what seemed to be at that time a great amount of debt, I didn’t feel like a wealthy man. I was working six days a week and three evenings as well. I needed to make a big income to cover my debt - but at what price? I missed the next few years of my family life, driven by the dollar. I wish I had realized that slow and steady wins the race.
When I was 23, an instructor from school tried to convince me that dental school was a starting point and that I needed to really learn dentistry after graduation. I told him I would continue my learning, as I would attend a dental residency. He had been through a residency and then Pankey Institute. He told me he was happy I was doing a residency, but if I wanted to be the best I can be, I had to invest in myself and with the best education facility available.
So what advice do I give to those in their twenties?
Find a good dental mentor who can help you along your journey. Surround yourself with good advisors to help balance your professional, financial and family life. The best investment is made in you. Invest in great continuing education that can help you grow professionally, personally and financially.
Most of the things I now enjoy in my life share one regret: I wish I had started them earlier in my life. We only get one chance in life. I hope you get to make less mistakes than I have made.
Good luck on your journey.
Carl E Steinberg, DDS, MAGD, LLSR