Is Humility the Key to Winning?

The reverse side of the Kentucky State Quarter...



In my last post I left you with one word: humility.  That was unfair because in the comments I realized that I didn’t tell you how to become humble.  And believe me I am not so arrogant that I think I can tell you, but I have learned a few lessons in my time.

And some of those lessons were learned at, of all places, the racetrack.

With Orb winning the Kentucky Derby last Saturday,  I was transported back to a time when I spent many of my leisure hours at the track.  I admit it…I was part of the subculture,  I already had the name…Doc, so I fit right in.  I used to spend a lot of prep time handicapping the races, and I did quite well.  I was known around the rail as someone who knew how to pick winners.

But picking winners is not easy.  I remember one guy, let’s call him Lenny because that’s a great track name too, who would always ask me who I liked, and then he would go and bet another horse…usually the favorite, because in the end, his decision making process led him to consult with what psychologist Robert Cialdini (Influence), calls the social mirror.

Lenny would cash a few tickets, and sometimes he would hit a long-shot…but there was no consistency.  No rhyme or reason to his betting.  But he was convinced that his process was responsible for his occasional success.  His losers?  Well, he always cursed his losers…they weren’t his fault.

I did much better, but I eventually lost interest and stopped going.  Years later I ran into Lenny at a local ice cream shop.  Same old Lenny, still chasing his dreams...he never stopped to figure out what he didn’t know…still telling everyone how good he was doing.  Lenny proved the old adage:

“You can beat a race, but you can’t beat the races.”

What did he need?

Humility…it probably could have saved him a lot of money.

So what is the connection to dentistry?  Most dentists don’t know what they don’t know.  They give themselves credit for the winners and blame their staff and patients for the losers.  There’s a lot more to interpersonal communication than meets the eye.  The late Walter Hailey once told me, “You have to kiss a lot frogs to succeed.”

I’d rather “know my frogs.”

You can learn humility in other places as well…on the golf course, at the poker table or at home with your spouse.

Life is the teacher.  But some people never get it…and what I learned a long time is that winning is a habit…and so is losing.






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