The Dental GPS: Your Guide to Happiness and Satisfaction

Dentistry Today


Why on earth are we working in the first place? Is it to be stressed, over­worked, and underpaid? Could it be to lie awake at night wondering about cash flow, or maybe spend less time with the family? Well, we overachieving Americans seem to all be rushing forward to get somewhere. But, where are we in such a hurry to get to? To the nut house? Our resting site? The poor house? We all seem to be on a perpetual treadmill with no “off” switch.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In your practice (as it is in life), suffering is optional and not mandatory. Just like patients who think the norm for “gums” is that they bleed, most dental teams think efforting work is the norm. Does your scalp bleed when you brush your hair? Well, nor should your soles or souls at work.


Photo Illustration by Cheryl Gloss

GPS is a term we coined playing off the Tom Tom or Neverlost brands that take us to our destinations; usually doing so with ease, low stress, and in the shortest time possible. They are also used on golf courses to do the same. While they give you guidance, whether on the links or on the road, you still have to make the right turns and swing the club!
The “Dental GPS” stands for good enough, purpose driven, and start now. In working with so many successful dental teams over the years, I have seen a commonality among the doctors and team members that I knew needed major attention. It seemed that no matter how high or how much a practice achieved, it was never enough!
There is a law regarding time and money that says you will fill and use all the time between now and your deadline, and that your expenses will rise in direct proportion to your income. The more time you have, the more you fill it (think college cramming), and the more money you make, the more you spend it (we always seem to make our bills work somehow). This is why paying yourself first, making your debt and retirement payments first, works. This is why putting your vacation, evening, and weekend time into a blocked zero-change schedule first, works!
For the past 15 years, I have been working as a business and team development specialist helping general dentists develop successful practices. I chose dental practice management because it is one of the most challenging businesses out there. I also chose it because I like to transform people’s lives; quite frankly, dental teams just don’t get the love that they deserve in our society. I thought, here’s a great marriage of my skills and their needs, which is what you need to make any business successful.
I took on the responsibility of helping them get their time and money handled, and I naively thought that’s what would make the difference for them. If I got their businesses handled, their personal finances straightened out, their time management issues dealt with; and if I helped them hire and retain great teams so that the entire business was producing great results, the dentists wouldn’t have to do these things themselves. Then, they would be happier, and so would everyone around them including their team members, their spouses, and their children. Everyone would be holding hands and singing “Kumbaya,” right? Wrong!
So I thought, what’s really going on here? I am really good at transforming businesses, doubling and tripling incomes, getting teams and clients to be happy, but there’s still something missing. Why can’t I take these hard-working successful dentists and transform them into happy campers? It was then that I realized I was transforming their businesses and their teams, but I was not transforming their thinking.
I came to realize that how you think dictates how you speak and what you do. I was all wrapped up in what the dentists were doing and I wasn’t paying as much attention to what they were saying. As a result, I had less of an idea about what they were thinking. One day, I had the breakthrough awareness that people’s actions—and therefore their results—always march in exact lockstep with their beliefs about what they deserve. It’s not true that in life you get what you deserve. Instead, you get what you think you deserve. Nothing more, nothing less. If you truly think that you deserve a high in­come and a large net worth, that’s what you will have. However, if you don’t think you deserve those things, you can work just as hard (or even 10 times harder) and you’ll still come up “short.”
The same thing is true with having a healthy, attractive body. If you think you deserve it, you’ll have it. If you don’t think you deserve it, you won’t, no matter how many hours you labor in the gym, no matter how carefully you count your calories. It just isn’t going happen. The same holds true with having a great relationship. Do you think you deserve one? Then you will have one. If you think you don’t, then you won’t.


The breakthrough in my thinking was simply this: We have exactly what we think we deserve. So, success does not just come from working harder, working smarter, or from working around the clock. Success comes from thinking that you deserve success. That’s when I came up with the concept of healthy deserve level (HDL), and that’s what I mean by being “good enough,” the G in dental GPS. Find out more about Raise Your HDL at
HDL is a state of mind when you think that you are good enough to deserve a nice life, however you define a nice life. It could be living in a beautiful home, in a great neighborhood. It could be having a great relationship with your spouse and children. It could be success in the workplace or a big bank account. It could be all of these things. I tell the dentists, whom I advise, that the standard they want to create for their patients is a “healthy mouth.” When you go to the doctor for a checkup, you want the doctor to tell you that your body is healthy and strong. When you go to your finance advisor, you want to hear that your portfolio is healthy!
But we never viewed our lives in terms of an HDL…until now. Want a quick barometer of where your Deserve Level is? Look around at your life. Whatever you have is what you think you’re entitled to. Nothing more, nothing less. One of the most exciting movies in recent years is, of course, The Secret. The secret of The Secret is the law of attraction—whatever you talk about and desire, you attract. But to go beyond the secret of The Secret…to the real secret of life…is that if you don’t allow yourself to deserve something, you’re not going to be able to think about it. If you don’t think about it, you won’t talk about it. And, if you don’t talk about it, it’s never going to materialize in your life. That’s because you will never take the actions necessary to make it happen. Everybody is focused on what they’re going to do next. I want to know what you’re going to think about next, because that tells me what’s going to happen next in your life.
My team leads an exercise at our coaching camps that has each participant declare their dream—what they want in life. This is a very hard task for some. If we asked each person what they didn’t want, they could rattle them off. This is because we have ANT in our head—automatic, negative thoughts that run on the never-ending mini-treadmill in our minds. This exercise we call the “ANT exterminator.” We were working with a team leader who (over and over) asked for the “trash team” (her words, I couldn’t make this up) who was not in attend­ance to come around and step up, or they would be fired. We worked with her to see how she, her doctor, and her “good team” were at the source of her challenge with her “trash team.” Having her “trash team” actually served the purpose for her not being fully responsible for causing the results they deserved. She could always blame them. She was able to see that pointing one finger out in blame, still has 3 pointing right back at her. Blaming others is the perfect “out” to not get the things we deserve, and creates the illusion that it is the fault of others around you. You then have your justification. The moment that you comprehend this is the moment you will be set free. Look and see when you are blaming others for the results you have in your life. Take your power back right now, not at the end of this article.
Roger Bannister was a medical student who went running during his lunch hour and set the goal of breaking the 4-minute mile. Of course at the time, everybody said that a human being could not run a mile in under 4 minutes. It was never going to happen. Bannister proved them wrong. Why? Because he took the actions necessary to run a sub-4-minute mile. Why did he take those actions? Because he thought that he was capable of running that quickly. In his mind, he deserved to run that quickly—and he did! Roger Bannister had an HDL when it came to running the 4-minute mile. When you look at the rest of his life, it appears he had that same high HDL across the board. He was a successful physician in London for decades, and his family life was successful as well.
You get what you think you deserve, because what you think about dictates what you say, and what you do. If you do not believe you deserve something, it is never going to happen. In fact, you’ll do everything in your power to sabotage the possibility of getting what you want. It’s perverse, but it is human nature.
I believe HDL is the critical piece in the discussion about how to get what you want, because it’s been such a blind spot for people. We all want to have great relationships, strong, healthy, and attractive bodies, more money, more time, and more freedom. I am no different from anyone else. But back in the day, I didn’t think I was entitled to make a lot of money in a short amount of time. It just wasn’t in my “realm of deserve.” So, I created my business in such a way that I would have to work hard to justify the income I was earning—until I finally thought I was just going to explode. Back then I couldn’t get where I wanted to go because my configuration and belief about what I deserved was so poor. It was rooted in low self-esteem and a big ego. You cannot fit an HDL and low self-esteem in the same space. I did not think I deserved free time, freedom to be with my family, or a lot of money in a short amount of time.
Since then, I have transformed my thinking and my deserve level to the point where I now have an HDL that allows me to have both money and time. Another result of raising my HDL is that I do not have to choose between work and financial success on the one hand, and a successful mar­riage and family on the other. If you think you deserve it, you can have it. That’s true whether you’re a dentist or a ditch digger. It’s that simple!


The next concept in the dental GPS is the P for purpose driven. This is where your fulfillment gets handled, once and for all. If you are looking to survive life with low self-esteem, or by using your career, you are set up for never winning the game. Your purpose is why you do what you do. When I was asked why I do what I do at age 23, I said, “To make money, that will attract a great wife by my having nice things, etc.” I will never forget the guy who asked me that question because he changed my life forever. He said, “Son, with that purpose you will only get so far. Your life will ex­pand greatly when you focus on help­ing others get more of what they want, and you will in turn get more of what you want.” [Zig Ziglar] Ouch! The moment I detached from surviving my selfishness (coming from the strong unconscious desire to survive), life became immediately fulfilling.
Jump…and the net will show up. Trust yourself. Learn to trust others. When I had a low HDL I attracted people who were not trustworthy. Again, it was me who created it, not the untrustworthy people. I was subconsciously searching for “them.” Even if I actually had trustworthy people, I wouldn’t get the results I was consciously wanting, because I was subconsciously think­ing that I was not deserving of what I want­ed. The subconscious committee in our heads wins until we distinguish and extinguish them.
The moment I became aware of this need to extinguish the ANT and low HDL, I found the solution. Being fo­cused on serving others, and crafting a purpose that has people see what’s available and waiting for them, fired up passion in my eyes instead of the green survival dollar signs that I’d seen staring back at me in the mirror for so long. My purpose is to profoundly and measurably enhance the quality of dental teams’ lives. That gets me up every morning. Instead of hitting the snooze button 3 times, I pop out ready to rumble. (My wife “hates” it.)
Stop reading, close your eyes, and let your gift rise above the circumstances, bills, and even the love handles that you have but don’t desire. Take some time and get clear on your purpose in life and write it down. It is not about your concerns or worries. It is simply why you are here. You have a unique gift that is yours to share with a world—a world that is waiting for it to shine. It is in all of us. Absolutely no one was left out. No mistakes were made.


The S in dental GPS stands for start now! We have this tendency to live in, “Some day when I (fill in the blank) , then I’ll be (happy, fulfilled, loved, rich, etc). For example: “When I lose 20 pounds, then I’ll be happy;” “When I have more money, then I’ll be able to have fun in life;” “When I get the right team, then I can build the practice I deserve.” Cut it out! Stop the madness! There is never going to be a good time (or the “right” time) if you are looking for justifications. It is just another symptom of the distinctions I have made throughout this article.
Have you planned a va­cation that you were really excited about? Perhaps your dream vacation? Well, it was fun in the planning, and even in talking about it with your neighbors, family, and friends; but when you purchase the tickets, it’s another story. You have now taken a literal step towards that va­cation being real, and you can almost feel the warm breeze on your face, and hear the waves lapping at the beach. Ahhh!
Life is not a dress re­hearsal. Nor is it something you can plan to turn out well, not take the actions necessary for that outcome, and expect to get the end result for which you planned. It is the perpetual fourth quarter, the never ending ninth in­ning. You may think you are winning, but you’ll never know that you won. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” [Lao Tzu] You will quiet your ANT very fast when you take actions counter to the messages that they send to you. They may get very loud at first, but you’ll find they become silent after they know you aren’t taking it any more.


If you follow the dental GPS you won’t end up just anywhere. You will get to your own secret paradise with your dreams fulfilled. You will no longer wonder, “What if?” All this is available right where you are, ages zero and up.

Gary Kadi, Founder of NextLevel Practice and author of Million Dollar Dentistry, is globally recognized as the dental expert for profound results in the lives of dentists, dental teams, and their patients. Call now to get your No. 1 unanswered question in your practice answered, (866) 926-0914 or visit his Web site at


Disclosure: Dr. Kadi reports no conflicts of interest.