When you were growing up, you probably had a role model. Maybe it was a favorite sports fan, a movie star, or a superhero. Whoever it was, you practically worshipped that person, and you tried to do everything you could to be like him or her. Now that you are an adult, you may or may not have a role model. No one’s perfect, so why should you try to emulate someone else? On the other hand, maybe you do have someone you look up to. Like your childhood self, maybe you still do everything you can to imitate that person. As a dentist mentor, I encourage you to have a role model. However, you should choose and emulate your model in a healthy, balanced way that respects your own integrity and talents.
Finding Your Inspiration
A role model can provide inspiration, and their example can guide you as you figure out how you want to grow as a professional and an individual. Take a moment to think about who you really admire. Perhaps it is a famous figure in the dental world, such as Pete Dawson or Zia Chishti. Maybe you look up to a politician, a philanthropist, or another public figure. Your role model could be one of your dental school teachers or one of your classmates. Maybe it is even your mom or dad. Perhaps you look up to several people. That’s great! In fact, the more role models you have, the better. Once you’ve identified who you admire, it’s time to think about why you do so. Take some time to write down the qualities you most appreciate in each person on the list. For example, maybe you admire Pete Dawson’s innovation and drive, Bill Gate’s philanthropic efforts, and your mom’s ability to say the right things at the right time. You may find that many qualities are common to each person on your list.
Emulating Your Role Models
Ok, now comes the challenging part. When you have figured out why you admire each person, you should identify areas in which you can become more like them. You may never invent a new treatment, but you could take a class on a recently developed technology. You can’t afford to give away millions of dollars, but why not organize a holiday food drive at your practice? You may not have your mom’s innate tact, but you can develop your own listening and communication skills.
You Are Enough
At the same time, it’s important to remember that you have your own worth and talents. As a kid, you probably looked up to your heroes with unfailing confidence. As an adult, you can recognize that what works for one person may not work for you. You are not in competition with your role models; you are using them as a springboard for your own development. Make a list of your own strengths and weaknesses. If you see legitimate flaws on the list, take steps to address them. However, when you recognize the areas of dentistry that you most enjoy and the policies that work best for your practice, you can align these things with the core values that you most admire in your role models. Then you can synthesize these values with your own abilities to find greater professional development and personal fulfillment. Who knows? You may even become a role model for someone else.