Unleashing the Power of Being: Stepping Into Your Full Potential

Written by: Maggie Augustyn, DDS, FAAIP, FICOI
potential, power of being, motivational



I remember walking into the operatory one morning to meet my long-time patient, a woman who’d recently become a widow. She had lost her husband of 40+ years. He was also a patient of mine, a man I quite liked. A few recall visits prior, he had taken a fall down the stairs and never recovered. I was full of anxiety and awkwardness as I approached her, not knowing what to say, not knowing how to approach the grief with which she most likely sat. I expressed my condolences as simply and as genuinely as I could. She looked back at me with strong spirits and said, “I’m fine. He’s fine. We are just here to help each other go home. And that’s what I’ve done. I have helped him go home.” She smiled; it was a warm, kind, gentle, genuine smile. I will never forget that moment. Yes, she grappled with grief but in an entirely different way than anyone else I’d seen.

potential, power of being, motivational

She was content and wholeheartedly assured that he was in a better place, and this was only a few days following his passing. Though this happened many years ago, with her understanding, I sit to this day. And it is her mantra that I attempt to live up to. I want to be, I fight to be, I pray to be a light that helps others ‘go home.’ And this also means, that along my own journey, I have been eternally lucky to have met people who help me ‘go home.’ Now, I believe that when she said, ‘go home,’ she meant it in a spiritual way. But the definition that I will use here would be more secular. To ‘go home’ means to help one another on the journey of life. It means carrying someone when they no longer have the strength to walk.

It means encouraging leaders on the brink of innovation. It means eating last as leaders and feeding our flock ahead (per Simon Sinek). To ‘go home’ means connecting with other humans, it means giving of ourselves, at the times we have strength, expecting nothing in return. It means having someone ask you: ’why me? Why are you helping me? What have I done right to deserve you?’ That can be done in the capacity of a dental provider, in a capacity of a leader, a friend, a mentor, a volunteer; it can be in our capacity as a human. Because no matter where we are standing, we all have so much to give.


The most beautiful friendships can sometimes have the strangest, most random, and yet still most extraordinary beginnings, when you think back. In their remembrance, our encounters can seem trivial, or random, even ordinary. I remember meeting my best friend Dr. Dani Barstad 23+ years ago, on our first day of dental school. I remember her spiky blond hair, quintessential Dani, and remember sitting near her till the day we graduated. We had served as dentists together around the globe, and no matter how many days we are apart, when we are together, nearing our 50s, there is no lost time. I remember meeting my best friend Amber, a couple of years ago, in a room crowded with other dentists.

She was wobbling at 7 months pregnant, and I felt alone surrounded by people. I sat next to her hoping that, in her pregnant state, she would be less likely to move around, walk away, and would remain talking with me. This began a closeness that I cannot say I’ve been lucky to have often with another. We live on opposite sides of the country but make time to speak each week. I remember meeting Shawn Zajas, a curly-haired, pink T-shirt-wearing, toothbrush-selling, Kirk Cameron look-alike. We met during a self-imposed tea-break at the Productive Dentist Academy Workshop, a few years back. We laughed, retraced his roots (so as to eliminate the possibility of him actually being Kirk Cameron or his relative), and exchanged phone numbers possibly for a future collaboration. We met again many months later, virtually, when Shawn asked to interview me during his Innovation in Dentistry podcast.

Dr. Augustyn with Shawn Zajas

Something magical happened during that interview[1]. Several days later, Shawn reached out to me in a way that today is considered terribly uncommon. He reached out to elevate me and to encourage me, expecting nothing in return. We’ve since spent many hours talking on Zoom and via Marco Polo. For a reason unbeknownst to me, Shawn has proverbially taken me under his wing, becoming my eternal cheerleader. To my amazement and surprise, Shawn has become that person for me, the one who is helping me ‘go home.’


Shawn is making me believe things that never would have come to light had it not been for his unmasking. With each conversation, he reminds me that ‘the world will make space for my gift.’

Shawn is not necessarily a coach or a consultant. I’d describe him more as an innovator, more importantly and accurately an influencer. He is tremendously gifted in anything related to marketing and understanding human behavior as it relates to the power of purchase. He also has a great eye for design. He gets color, texture, form, model, construction, and, most of all, understands how all of those influence how we look at products and how we make decisions in their direction. He has been in the dental space since he was 14 years old, selling toothbrushes along with his dad at the Chicago Midwinter Meeting. He has 15 years of experience in brush design and innovation. He has made some amazing developments, like his BYND CARE brush, a luxe and sleek brush delivered straight to patients in gratitude of their patronage.

The black matte and sheen box, as luxurious as an Apple box, makes you feel almost undeserving of the gift. The box bears the patient’s name, releasing a burst of dopamine each time he or she goes to use it. Shawn has also had some flops, like producing a manual toothbrush with scripture engraved on the handle.

His hope was that every Christian store would want to put it up in their display case. Shawn’s end game is not fame or fortune; he simply wants to elevate and create more value in dentistry. And for that reason, he started the podcast: a way for him to highlight, honor, and promote leaders and innovators in dentistry. He calls to attention the grit, the mud, and hardship that have turned leaders into the people they had become. He has said, “I wonder how many books, how many initiatives, and I wonder how many dreams are on pause right now. That I just want to encourage people to hit resume on, to hit play, to keep going.” He wants to help all of us ‘go home.’

Shawn’s presence feels like an eternal beacon of light. I had seen him speak recently at Vanessa Emerson’s Expansion meeting in Phoenix, and his brave and raw description of living our truth, of living from within our heart has left us, the audience, misty-eyed yearning for more. His words and ideas still echo in my heart, months later: “beauty, magnificence, and courage are with you if you allow yourself to see them,” he said. We so often give love, compassion, and empathy to others, lifting them up, carrying them. Why is it that we come up short dispensing that to ourselves as we look into the mirror? Is it really such a radical idea that we can be our own agents of transformation? Shawn believes that our hearts want to be delighted and overwhelmed with love. But not just with love that pours out of us, love that pours towards us. He preaches that we can begin to feel the light as we bravely step into who we are called to be.


In all of our talks together, Shawn’s helped me understand life on an entirely different level. He has come up with a model of attribution that divides our assignment of success into 3 buckets. The buckets are: outcome, output, and being. This is a way for us to understand what motivates us, how we seek or move into success, and how we assign that success or feel a sense of worth from it.


Most of us nowadays gain a sense of success from outcome. In outcome, we only gain esteem on account of aftereffect. For example, in a dental practice, for a dentist such as myself, the sense of success would be derived from my production or delivery of care. This is dangerous because we often are not in control of the aftermath of our actions. Outcome, generally speaking, is a collaboration, not just of our decisions but also the decision of those around us. I can diagnose a fractured tooth recommending a full coverage restoration.

To gain the outcome of a crown, I need to have a team supporting my philosophy, I need to have a team trained to present said treatment plan, and I need to have a patient willing to accept it. My success, which inadvertently determines my self-worth, has as much to do with the behavior of others as it does with my own. My sense of worth, ergo, is derived from what the rest does. A very dangerous endeavor which can lead to significant insecurity. Our identity in outcome is almost the most common in our gain of self-respect and self-worth. It is based entirely off the destination and can anchor us down in the most shallow ways.


The second bucket is output. Here we have more oversight regarding success. If I seek to feel fulfilled from my output, I can drive as hard as I need to gain that. The harder I drive, the more I turnout, the higher my sense of self. “If my goals are based off output, I can control my own outputs. I can show up every single day. I can study when I need to study. I can give and be present with those people that are in your life. And that gives me self-respect at the end of the day.” The danger here is that we are likely to judge others on their output, and we can be critical in a social context. An example here would be diagnosing several crowns on several patients throughout the week and feeling either inferior or superior to a partner or associate with their output, which can hinder the relationship. I believe this bucket to be the most dangerous in a way of our self-comparison. Once again, relying on what others do to determine our own standing.


The last bucket is being. When I think of this last bucket, I think of peace. At Shawn’s direction, I not just understand but ‘live as if we all started from a place of equality in human dignity.’ No person is better, no person is worse. No need to look around at what others are doing, and no need to depend on the follow-through of our recommendation. Being means a complete alignment with our purpose and the authenticity needed to live it out. Being is freedom. “And the reality of freedom is [unfortunately] what terrifies people because in [freedom] you can do anything you want to.” And it should not be. With freedom, you can be anything you want to. It is an awareness that audaciously drives purpose.


Having an understanding of the 3 buckets is a safety and a protective measure that keeps our wires from being crossed. If you tie yourself to the wrong bucket, it can stop you from succeeding, from feeling worthy, can stop you from attaining your fullest potential and can rob you of a sense of identity. No one in life has been spared from obstacles. Despite what you may choose to see, as you look to your right and to your left, we all carry pain, tragedy, and trauma. And those become a formula for generating our limiting beliefs. We all understand and grapple with risk, a fear of the unknown. We recognize that stepping into the cloudy future has been no guarantee of success or even certainty.

Most of us realize that to grow and to gain and to reach a higher level comes with a set of proportional risks. It is the only way to step into our glory. Stepping into being is having the ability to conceive that which we believe effortlessly. Stepping into being makes us unstoppable. It is a time where we can challenge our limiting beliefs and create at maximum heights that which is possible. With being, we reach peak performance sans the discriminating filter of our mind. We allow the seeds of our ideas to grow within our minds and within our world indiscriminately. The boundaries that we think keep us safe are reconstituted many miles away, giving us more freedom to create.

Putting your efforts into the bucket of being is what will make you feel whole. It is the ultimate way of stepping into our own full self-expression. It is an unselfish way of sharing our gifts with the world, unapologetically. And it is only in that alignment and only in that bucket that we can help others go home.


  1. Breaking the Silence: Dentistry, Mental Illness, and the Path to Authentic Living with Dr. Augustyn


Dr. Maggie Augustyn is a practicing general dentist, the owner of Happy Tooth, a faculty member at Productive Dentist Academy, an author, and an inspirational speaker. She obtained her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Augustyn is passionate about reading, researching, writing, and speaking on topics that encompass the human experience, including our struggles, pain, and moments of vitality.

mindful moments, dentistry

Maggie Augustyn, DDS, FAAIP, FICOI

Her personal mission is to inspire individuals to embark on a journey toward a more authentic self-actualization. She has a notable presence in the media and is a frequent contributor to Dental Entrepreneur Woman. Dr. Augustyn takes great pride in her role as a contributing author to Dentistry Today, where she publishes a column titled “Mindful Moments.”

She has also been featured on various podcasts and is a sought-after national speaker, emphasizing the significance of authenticity and self-discovery.

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com.