The late Thomas Leonard, the founder of Coach U, an institution that trains coaches, defines guiding principles as,
“a basic understanding of something fundamental about the human condition; a statement that a particular behavior or phenomenon always occurs, a theory that consistently explains the facts.”
Coach U’s guiding principles help to explain the facts of human interaction and in turn explain human behavior.
The following list is Coach U’s 9 Guiding Principles:
1. People Have Something in Common.
2. People are Inquisitive.
3. People Contribute.
4. People Grow from Connection.
5. People Seek Value.
6. People Act in Their Own Interest.
7. People Live from their Perception.
8. People Have a Choice
9. People Define their Own Integrity.
These principles are very general, but they can act as starting points for fundamental beliefs about your dental practice. Once these beliefs are defined and applied we can take a whole new approach toward building a practice.
Let’s take the first principle. Early on in my practice I noticed that all patients shared the common ground of wanting to keep their teeth. In forty years of dental practice I only met one person who volunteered to have perfectly good teeth extracted and have complete dentures. What I noticed, even through some of the most horrific neglect, when it came time to lose teeth, everyone is saddened. I have seen people with hopeless teeth, so far gone that it was obvious, that they would do anything to keep their teeth. I had a dentist patient, who, upon seeing his own x-ray of a split root on a second molar, tried to convince me to do nothing short of magic to save it. I have seen patients come to tears when they hear the finality of treatment.
It is my strongest belief about people, all people, that they do not want to lose their teeth. This is in spite of the fact that I see them doing things that will eventually cause them to lose teeth. This can confuse many dentists. But if you create your practice around this one simple starting point, all of your dentistry will guide your patients toward complete dentistry. Aren’t dentists more like coaches and teachers? Leonard’s principles work in any form of human interaction.
Take a look at this list. If you can come up with other beliefs that have helped in your practice, please share.
See if you can fit them into Tom Leonard’s 9 Guiding Principles.