Abraham Lincoln has been quoted as saying, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Amen.
Recently, I met a younger man who has aspirations to own and operate a dental leadership and management company. He is well motivated and capable. His professional background is such that his dreams are achievable with the right business plan and execution.
After speaking with the man for the first time, I suggested we meet and talk more. As I also have a passion for the dental industry and professional development, I hoped to learn something from him and perhaps give him the benefit of my 32 years in clinical dentistry and the wider dental and endodontic industry.
Several weeks later, the man, his father, and I had dinner to chat on the subject. I’m inquisitive by nature. In my view, there are few or no stupid questions. Often the best plans are those undone by someone not asking the most basic of questions. I am also a believer in the possible. No one ever walked backward to achieve great things. More often, like buffalos that advance into the storm, they tenaciously move toward their goals when many others say the goal is not possible. At the dinner, I asked a number of questions, listened carefully to the answers, and answered the questions asked of me in return.
The glow in the eyes of the perspective owner was palpable as he talked about his ideas and dreams. The main challenge he faced was related to leaving the security of his present job and the uncertainly of taking the leap into the unknown. Having a wife (who worked but was very unhappy with her job) and young children at home, he was clearly torn between a duty to provide and contribute to his family and/or pursue what he was truly passionate about.
As the conversation progressed, the negativity and biases of the father began to emerge verbally. In the father’s view, 99% of all startups of this nature fail, so his attitude was why even start? Also, unless someone was going to guarantee his son’s financial security, the father said he should stay where he was and risk nothing. Coincident to this thinking was the lack of any alternative models to develop the business, perhaps start small, start with one client, and scale up through profits. No, the father was having none of it.
For better or worse, I spoke up quite forcefully and told the father that he should let his son pursue his dreams and try to figure out how to make them reality rather than trying to kill them or build a wall so high and thick it could never be breached. It made for an awkward silence!
Interestingly and tellingly, the father does not live a life of abundance. The son, as Lincoln said, has a choice of moving forward and determining how happy he wants to be by following his own vision.
For the most part, I don’t believe in the adage, “Build it, and they will come.” Success in anything is never assured. But I do know that one day we’ll all be on our deathbed thinking about what we would have, could have, or should have done while we were able. In that moment, I am absolutely convinced that we will much more regret the things we know we should have done and did not do rather than what we actually did. What is it that you would really like to do? I welcome your feedback.