When you’re in your 5th decade of trying to teach dentists how to be successful (most of whom don’t/won’t listen), you see a lot of success and failure and you form some opinions of how both happen. I’m aware that most people do not make any distinction between wealth and success. I’ve always considered myself successful but not wealthy. I believe wealth is something handed down for generations and heaven knows that is completely foreign to me.
As a successful person for a long time, I drive Bentley automobiles. I understand they are symbols of wealth to many folks. I’ve had 4 of them and still drive 2. A new one lives at our Arizona home. Recently in Cave Creek, Arizona while pumping gas into the Bentley, another fellow doing the same approached me to chat about the car. This happens often and I enjoy using the car as a conversation starter in meeting new friends. The fellow was 20-30 years younger than me and was driving a new pickup with his name and “Landscape Architect” on his door sign. He is African American. I don’t know if the fact that he is African American is pertinent to the story or not but in case it is, there you have it.
I had a nice chat with this good fellow about the Bentley and then he asked me, “What are the 3 keys to success and wealth?” Again, I will substitute only success, as I explained above, understanding that he made no distinction between the 2. I’ve been asked a lot of questions about success and failure from thousands of dentists over the years but I don’t remember such a question from a non-dentist. The laity thinks ALL dentists are successful. (I know, they’re wrong.) I surprised myself by answering promptly as though I was totally prepared for the question. Thinking about my response later and since, I think it was a good response and can be of value to prospective Comfort Dental partners and dentists in general.
My response was “Stay in school or training until they call you something, Get up and go to work at it for 25 years, and marry my wife and stay married”. We chatted for a few more minutes about it and went our separate ways as new friends.
Consider the first one: I refer to post-high school graduation. Everyone can get through high school and if they can’t we have an issue other than success to discuss. School or training is not finished until they call you something: Landscape architect, neuro-surgeon, heavy equipment operator, dentist, esthetician, car salesman, plumber, manufacturer’s sales rep, police officer, draftsman, auto mechanic, irrigation expert, arborist, property manager, financial planner, home inspector, IT specialist and a million more we can all think of. I don’t care what it is, STAY IN SCHOOL OR TRAINING UNTIL THEY CALL YOU SOMETHING AS ABOVE WITHOUT INTERRUPTION. I’ve seen hundreds who thought they would “take a break” from college or tech training or whatever and guess what? They NEVER return. The first one is easy.
The 2nd one is much tougher: Get up EVERY DAY and go to work at what they call you for 25 years. Yup, this one is tough but if it isn’t a sole guarantee of success, it’s a close as it gets. I have a circle of 10 or 15 high school friends who have stayed in touch pretty well over these many years and we are all successful in 10 or 15 different fields. Some of us are highly educated/trained and some less so. There is no reason at all that each of us should be successful without exception. I pondered this and the reason is so simple. We all got up every day and did what we do for at least 25 years. We all have varying lifestyles, incomes, retirement plans, and spending habits. However, by any definition, we are successful. GET UP EVERY DAY AND GO TO WORK AT WHAT YOU ARE and you will be financially successful.
The third one is not only tougher still, it’s impossible. You can’t marry my wife and stay married to her because she is taken. But you will get my point. The DMK (Divine Mrs. Kushner, Cindy) didn’t just put up with me for 5 decades, she never held me back. NEVER. Whatever crazy idea I came up with over the years, she was all in. There is no doubt she thought I was wrong (I was) many times but if it involved advancing my career, she was in. She’s no shrinking violet and if she has an opinion, she lets me have it, and HOW. But if my idea had the purpose of furthering my earning potential, her answer, regardless of what she thought of the idea was, “Let’s do it, how can I help?” And she did. Choose a life partner who supports rather than detracts from your attempt to grow professionally. If you are the primary earner for your family, then your primary responsibility is to EARN for your family. Your spouse must understand that. I have seen everything from the spouse can’t live away from the Mother to the primary earner needs to be home more to help with household chores. Yes, I have.
Divorce is a whole other issue for which I am not qualified but my family avoids it and we are successful. So there you have it. Stay in school or training until they call you something. Get up every day and work at it for 25 years. Marry someone who supports and doesn’t detract from your attempts to advance your career and STAY married. Good stuff. This is in no way an absolute assurance of success as there are so many variables that can derail it. However, I maintain that if you can accomplish the above, the odds of your financial success are mega-overwhelmingly in your favor.
Oops, there is one more small thing: You’ll need to, while accomplishing the BIG 3, wear an umbrella of character the whole time. Another huge professional suicide cause is lack of character. It’s not complicated. Simply do not lie, cheat, or steal in your business dealings or life for that matter. I am a desperately flawed person yet when I fail the above, I always make an attempt to correct the mistake. Not a guarantee of success, but WOW does this ever improve your chances. THINK ABOUT IT.