The Importance of Failure

Is failure a reason to hang your head or are mistakes a gateway to greater success?  Most successful dentists had their share of treatment to re-do early in their career, but every dentist I talk to tells me the same thing.  Those early “failures” instilled a drive to not repeat the same missteps.  Early “failure” spawned success.

An article in Forbes entitled “How to be a Failure” recounts the story of Art Spiegelman, who created the graphic novel Maus.  The novel is about Spiegelman’s parents surviving the Holocaust.  It took him thirteen years, yes, thirteen years to complete the novel, which won a Pulitzer in 1992—the first graphic novel ever to earn that honor.

However, if you review the early versions of the novel, you see the author struggling to develop his ideas.  You see consistent dead-ends and “failures”   What if Spiegelman had given up during his thirteen year struggle to put his parent’s story on paper?

Where would we be without “failure?”  Certainly not as far along as we are right now.  I can think of several dozen dental teams that all wanted to create a more effective patient experience.  And I can think of the missteps that overshadowed the successes as we worked to improve communication, chair-side presentations, co-diagnosis, and flow.

No one enjoyed making mistakes.  It was frustrating at first when the new systems felt awkward, when new phraseology and communication techniques required extra thought.  Yet the dentists and teams quickly discovered tremendous value in what they learned from their missteps.

The next time you look to someone for inspiration, please keep in mind that person’s success was built on a firm foundation of failure.  Just as yours will be, assuming you give yourself the opportunity.

Learn more about how we help dentists and teams turn failure into success.

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