Believe in Yourself!

As people who know me can attest, I’m very open about the struggles of my early dental practice, as well as my ADD diagnosis, which happened when I was about 33 years old. It took a lot of hard work to learn how to deal with the ADD, especially in my day-to-day business work; dentistry was never the problem, it was leading, managing, accounting, all that other stuff. Very early on in my career, I even suffered through a period of deep depression, which I later learned was related to the ADD and all the frustrations in life that came from it. But I don’t intend this to be a post about the struggles; it’s meant to be an inspiration to those who struggle as I did, and who fear that they can’t, or won’t succeed.

It’s Not Talent – It’s Hard Work and Persistence That Matter

BelieveAs I grew up, I really struggled to find a creative outlet.  I did swimming and tennis, and I played trumpet in the high school marching, concert, and jazz bands.  I was reasonably good and could have done even better, but was never able to stay on task long enough to really excel.  In college and dental school, and eventually into the “Real World,” I continued to struggle, and I often got really down on myself for not living up to my potential.  Same thing with my business – lots of people told me I was a very good dentist, but if you looked at my bank account, you’d see I sure was a lousy businessman!

But beyond that, I thought I had zero artistic talent.  I could barely draw a stick figure, struggled to paint a sunflower, had no idea why famous paintings were famous, etc.  On top of that, I absolutely HATED writing!

But at age 33, I was finally diagnosed with ADD, and I took the time to learn about it. One book in particular made a huge difference for me, Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell M.D. and John J. Ratey M.D.  One of the key takeaways for me was that people with ADD actually are VERY creative people, when they’re able to focus their helter-skelter minds.  As I learned coping skills, that’s exactly what I found!  But more importantly than learning that I did have a creative streak, I finally was able to truly focus and stay on task with my interests.  THAT was where the difference was made, and where I learned the truth of the matter – it doesn’t matter whether you have “talent” or not – what matters is how much you want it, and how hard you’re willing to work to learn and do something.

“The Myth of Talent” by Robin Griggs Wood

At times like this, though, I still find it difficult to speak eloquently on the matter, to be inspiring.  Just recently, though, I saw this video by a remarkable woman, photographer, and artist on Google+ named Robin Griggs Wood.  You can find her on Facebook HERE and Google+ HERE.  She recently became a Master in the Arcanum (too long to explain, just follow the link to find out, and this video will explain some of it, too), and for that, she made this video, talking about her own artistic journey.

You Don’t Have to “Be” the Best to BECOME the Best

From high school, to college, and even into dental school, I was an average student, mostly B’s.  However, after 16 years of working really hard, averaging 75 hours of Continuing Education every year, and a dedication to learning, it is safe to say that I am highly regarded among my peers as an excellent dentist across a wide range of disciplines: orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry, root canals, periodontal surgery, and more.  Very few general dentists can claim the range of skills that I do.  I don’t mean that to brag, just to show that even an “average” student can reach true excellence with hard work and dedication.  It also helps to ALWAYS remember that there are still people better than I am, so I never get arrogant and think I’m done learning.  But that inspires me to keep learning, keep trying, keep believing that I can do it.  Let the great works of others inspire you, not depress you.

That said…….I still can barely draw a stick figure or flower, but I have learned Photography.  Without a doubt, photography has become my greatest and most passionate photographic outlet.  Through forums like, Kelby Training (now KelbyOne),, fellow photographers in dentistry, Facebook, and now especially Google+, I have learned so much about the art of seeing an image, capturing it, editing it, and presenting it.  I now receive compliments on my photos from people around the world, and from photographers who are far more “talented” than I am……but that just means they’ve worked harder and longer and more passionately than I have.  You can see a small selection of images here, and see more on my photography website

And remember what I said about writing?  I HATED it, but now I LOVE it.  I write for this blog and for a personal one, and I write extensive posts on Google+ and Facebook on a regular basis as part of in-depth conversations.  I ENJOY it! 15 years ago, I could not even imagine that possibility, because I thought I sucked at it.  What a change!

And you can, too.  Believe in Yourself.  Don’t believe the naysayers.  Find a way.  Don’t give up.  Have faith.  Work twice as hard, study twice as long, and trust me……you will achieve far greater things than you can even imagine.

If you’ve overcome great challenges, doubts, and fears…please share your story in the comments!  Share this post, give it a +1 and Like and Pin, whatever floats your boat.


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