Why I Love Hankey Pankey

There are 2 types of people in this world: those that talk the talk, and those that walk the walk.

I’ve met a lot of both types in my life, and I’d be oversimplifying things if I said each person is entirely one or the other type.  There certainly were times in my life when I’ve just talked and taken no action to back the bull$#!+ that I was spouting.  Heck, I’m probably doing it right now and don’t even know it!  And I’m sure there were other times when my actions were right in line with my values and beliefs.

I’ve known some “Pankey Dentists” (and non-Pankey dentists too) that really are just elitist snobs that think that they are better than everyone else, even though they pretend to be something else.  These people are just talking the talk because that is not what Pankey is about.

I’ll give you an example of someone who does walk the walk.  When I wrote my “10 Reasons Your Dentist Probably Hates You Too” post, a few people astutely cashed in on the buzz.  I came across a post on Tao of Dentistry titled, “10 Reasons Why My Patients Love Me.”   When I read Dr. Barry Polansky’s post, I was impressed by his ability to add his 2 cents, empathize with me, and critique the situation without judgement.  He heard my opinion, acknowledged it, laughed with me, and made a very thoughtful response.  In addition to the dentistry, this is what Pankey teaches dentists to do in life and in practice: show kindness and empathy, listen to others, and share his/her expertise without judgement.  (It’s a lot of warm fuzzies, you know.)  I contacted him to thank him, and I found out that we had actually met several years ago through a friend!  And he is the author of a great book called The Art of the Examination.

This is what Pankey is about.

Now I’ll turn to a response I saw on the Spear Education website.  Let me preface this by saying that I have heard wonderful things about Spear, and had even thought about attending these courses in the future.  This is not a commentary on Spear Education or Mr Manji, the author of the post.  I also don’t know what interpersonal skills Spear teaches philosophically, so I can’t comment on whether he is walking the walk or not.  I’ll also point out that maybe I’m guilty of reacting defensively to this post the same way “the patients I hate” reacted to my original post.  But I’m just sayin’…

  This post was titled, “You’ve Gotta Love It,” which I agree is the crux of it all.  When I first read the post, I thought, “yes, he gets it!”  Then I read it more closely, and noticed some subtleties that I missed the first time around.  I can’t imagine the author intended to be smug and judgmental, but somehow, hints of that became apparent to me.  He said:

I’m sure her point is that if she didn’t have all these issues with patients, she would love being a dentist.

  Did I say that anywhere?  How can he be sure that was my point?  That was exactly the opposite of my point.  My point was the title of his own post… you’ve gotta love it, and I didn’t.  His assessment of me would have been much more accurate had he quit at the title.  He then goes on to say what he thinks:

you have to start from a mindset of loving what you do, and that is what gives you the motivation to deal with these issues in a positive way. That’s what gives you the patience to deal with the recurring nuisance problems, and that’s what gives you the inspiration and energy to tackle the bigger value-creation issues that we see in her list. If you truly love what you do, these problems are not deal-breakers.  Oh, and we can teach you how to do all that and more at Spear EducationJust kidding– I added that last sentence.  (Maybe I should specifically say when I am trying to be funny, just to avoid being misunderstood.)

How does he know what I think?  He’s making assumptions about what I think based on what he thinks he knows about what I think he should think about me.  Huh? (Just kidding, again.)  He then goes on to explain that the mindset of a successful dentist should be similar to that of a parent.  I’ll let you read about that for yourself, but I’ll just say that it’s a good thing I’m not a parent.  I just don’t know how to love, so I constantly tally pros and cons about the people in all of my relationships.  (Joking again– sarcasm.)

He finishes it off with:

Any profession worth being a part of is going to come with its own set of challenges, as I suspect this former dentist is going to find with her next endeavor. As I always say, wherever you go, you take yourself with you.

Um… where do I start with this one?  And… enter judgement!

He may think this profession is worth being a part of, but I do not– not for me.   I respect his passion for his career, and I admire dentists who love what they do.  I know it’s hard for them to imagine, but many of us do not love it.  He warns me that I will find new challenges in my new career.  Wow, I’m so glad to have that heads-up.  I hadn’t thought of that before I took 5 years to select a new career.  And, since I’m taking myself with me wherever I go, I’m sad to hear that I will be doomed to hate my next career, because how could anyone not love dentistry?

If you hate dentistry, it must be you.

And I will be much too immature to be able to deal with the new set of challenges that follow me because I couldn’t do it in dentistry.  Maybe I should have stayed in dentistry because at least they were old challenges and not new ones.  And will I not have the self-awareness?  Will I just jump from career to career, constantly searching for a getaway from myself ?

Me– defensive and even judgmental myself? Probably.

Him– judgmental and condescending? Definitely.

Now we’re even.  Because I’m keeping tally, you know.  (I’m kidding again!!!)

You’ve Gotta Laugh at It.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


25 thoughts on “Why I Love Hankey Pankey

  1. Good for you for taking a chance on a new profession…lots of people would have just remained miserable and made everyone else in there lives miserable too.
    Love the posts…keep it up. Always thought provoking and humorous. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Eric! Even though I sounded a bit angry in this post, I was actually laughing while writing. What can I say? We dentists have sick senses of humor.

      My husband threatened me with that, btw. He said our marriage wouldn’t survive if I was going to come home everyday miserable, only to make him miserable! He was right!

      Thanks so much for reading 😀

  2. This just gets better! You make me laugh out loud. As a Practice Management Consultant ( former), there were many times after the assessment, when I’d ask my client, “…soooo, what would you rather be doing?” One answered, “Interior decorating…” You should have seen, he had so much fun with his own office! It was gorgeous. I frankly told him maybe he should persue helping other DDS to find the office esthetics they needed for their own comfort & pleasure, and that of their patients. Ha! It was a match. He only went to dental school because that is what his father would pay for. His MD brother is also out of his profession now that he is older.

    I have struggled and struggled over the years to help many of my clients, via, my own presence, modeling and hands-on, but I found that if the interest and willingness isn’t present it’s basically a fruitless endeavor. I ended loving their practices more than they did..LOL!

    Thanks for your openness…. As you know, there are many opportunities int he dental field, that don’t involve running your own practice or directly interacting with patients. Because you are willing to look at all issues, you’ll do well with whatever you put your hand to!

    Me? Oh yes, I train ( kick butts) dental assistants in a small, closely held atmosphere. We have fun and they get the best of both worlds, business and assisting. I didn’t want it to be like “pulling teeth” to have my clients make the smallest changes even thought those changes would eventually become a huge benefit.


    1. Wow! That’s pretty impressive that you just knew after the assessment. I thought we were better at hiding our disdain for the career- haha! Good for you for helping these dentists discover what they really needed to be doing (or in many cases, not doing.)

      What an interesting perspective to hear about the consulting work you did. I bet your “pulling teeth” comment happened all the time. And now that you mention it, I have seen it a lot. Many dentists don’t want to change. So why are they spending $ to have someone come in and only to NOT implement anything that they paid the consultant to teach them? It’s almost like they want the magic pill. They should know better. After all, they spend their days teaching patients that it takes maintenance to care for their teeth. How is maintaining a successful practice any different?

      Good for you for finding something that you can do that will breed success in others. We need good assistants in this field!

      Thanks for the sweet comments and for reading… and for laughing with me! Kudos to you!

  3. Hi,
    As usual a wonderful post. There are too many people I feel that stay in a profession that they don’t like because of others, in the end I have seen how this plays out, nobody is happy. Much better to move on and take a different turn in the road and see where it leads, and I’m sure whatever you decide to do you will be a lot happier, which in turn brings happiness to those around you. 🙂

  4. Aw, thanks, mags! It is sad that we feel pressured by others to make certain decisions– especially about our own lives. I can assure you that my life is much happier now! 😀

  5. Hi Laura…First of all…WOW! thanks for those kind words. Yor post, once again touched a nerve. Here goes— this may take some time. Firstly, Imtiaz Manji is not a doctor. He is basically a practice management consultant who has “been around” for years. He has landed at Spear after many years creating a name for himself in dentistry. There is nothing special about his advice or intellect. I read the Spear blog everyday and make comments (always being careful not to offend)…he has NEVER commented back. EVER! As a blogger, I find that quite unresponsive and rude. Those two qualities are not taught at the Pankey Institute.
    Practice management people in general just spit out the same pop psychology pablum. I read his post that you mentioned above. It could have been written by anyone—not what I would call compelling content like yours. Your posts are raw emotion, not dimestore advice.
    On the loving your patient part: Last week I told a study club that I don’t love all my patients—I don’t even care about some of them. I do give EVERY one the chance to create a wonderful relationship with Trust, Appreciation and Ownership (hence the TAO of dentistry), but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen—you know, some will, some, won’t, next.
    And– I am a parent and think I did a pretty good job. I was a disciplinarian and some kids would have hated me for it (I also love Tom Coughlin’s coaching style—look what happened to Tiki Barber). In the end you have to love your kids…but you’re not required to love everypatient that comes…you get that, I know it.
    The main thing Pankey did for me was not to teach me to love my patient (actually he said Know your patient), but more to help me find the meaning in dentistry…to understand it, create predictable results and truly gain control technically and behaviorally. THAT’S IMPORTANT! Gallup Polls tell us that only 17% of people surveyed are engaged in their work. That’s across all of work, not just dentistry. You are right…most dentists do not like what they are doing…probably less than 17%, but most bullshit themselves to justify living out someone else’s dream. I am 64 years old and identified with everything you said. It takes courage to do what you did…my only reservation is that like any other job, once the ability to control the work is understood and applied (they don’t teach that in dental school), then it gets a bit easier.
    Thanks for hearing me out…keep up the good work.

    1. Well, as you can tell by now, Barry, I say what I think it (at least from a safe distance behind my computer!) 😀

      Did not know anything about this man. I guess I made some assumptions about him too! 😉 I noticed that about him– he never replies to any comments. That’s a quick way to get me to lose any interest in returning to a blog. There are too many good blogs out there and too little time for me to read one that is not personal or authentic, and is just lame scripted information. Part of blogging is building a community, and starting a conversation. It’s the best part of it. It also makes me question people’s intentions for blogging. Are they just in it for the business, or do they do it to connect with people also? I guess you could apply these same thoughts to any business– even dentists.

      I love to hear your honesty about loving every patient and really getting to the heart of what Pankey teaches. I actually thought his analogy of patients being like children was a load of doo doo (obviously.) Your approach to “loving every patient” is so realistic and probably much easier to actually do with honesty and success.

      Thanks for more kind words! Once again, you’re proving that you get it! We need more in the field like you.

      1. Thank you Laura.
        Dentistry used to be a great profession where there was so much cooperation among dentists. The “business” of dentistry changed all of that. Actually the “business” of life has changed all of that so that most of us have lost the meaning of work. That’s a shame because the things we “do” are really to help people live better lives. So many people these days are going without preventative dentistry and of course, restorative dentistry. It all comes home to roost in the end. It will never get cheaper…that is a shame with all of the great technology we have at our disposal.
        Something has to give…dentistry, at least quality dentistry cannot be reserved only for the rich and very poor.

        1. Funny– I was just thinking about this today. Gone are the days when you can just show up and do your good work. Now it’s all about the business and getting ahead. I imagine how much that has affected Dr-patient relations too. Wish I had the answer to these problems we are facing.

  6. for what it’s worth, i love my dentist. she’s personable, remembers everybody, never stops smiling or laughing, and makes me feel like she cares. one thing she does that i love is when she’s working on me, she’s keeping me aware of what she’s doing and about how much longer it will take so i’m not sitting there wondering if it’s another 5 or 25 minutes. she makes me comfortable, and that’s very important.

    1. That’s worth a lot, brains. I think all the things you describe are so important. Sounds like you are in good hands, and she’s probably lucky to have you as a patient also 😉

  7. Very interesting post.

    I need dental work, but it cost so much that I end up putting it off till it’s even worse. I don’t dislike going to the dentist; again, it’s just so darn expensive.

    The whole career transition thing is fascinating. I have been in manufacturing mgmt, and am very good at it. Do I love it – no. I would love to be in something more creative. However, at this point there is too much invested unfortunately to make a change. So I choose to unleash creativity on the blog and through some art.

    Great post, again!

    1. Thanks, MJ. Yes it is expensive. Now that I have to pay for my own dental care, I have decided that I will always prioritize it– wouldn’t want to be a hypocrite, would I? 😉

      I think it’s okay to not love your job. The important thing is that you don’t hate it! I bet most people don’t love their jobs. It’s great that you have a way to be creative. Just think, if blogging or art became your job, then maybe you wouldn’t love it as much as you do. I know for me, adding some creativity into my life through blogging really helped me feel much happier– even while hating my job. I felt that same way– that there was no creative outlet for me in my life, and it felt empty without it. And it’s opened the door to more creativity… I have just bought a dslr camera!

      Thanks to you, again, MJ!

  8. Another great post. I am not a person that follows many blogs but I do follow yours. I like your writing style but also, as was touched on before, you respond to comments! I think that is cool, allows your readers to interact with you which just draws them in more. Keep it up, I always look forward to reading your next post.
    BTW I have now met w/ a broker and I am meeting w/ 2 potential buyers next week. Scary but I’m glad I’m moving forward with changes. I wouldn’t say you are the only inspiration as it is something I’ve contemplated for a LONG time but I would say reading your posts has lit a bit of a fire under me to get moving with this. Life it too short to be miserable.
    Dr. Barry Polansky, I also REALLY enjoyed reading your words. You seem like a guy who’s really got it together.

    1. Thanks, Natalie. It’s fun for me to have the dialogue– it’s so much more interesting for me that way too. I can say it’s a 2-way street– one of my favorite things is to get comments on my posts. It feels lonely without them 😉 As always, my posts wouldn’t be the same without your comments here! I love to hear about your progress, and that is so cool that things are moving for you. You go girl!

  9. You always have the best titles for your posts 🙂

    My dentist has surfer blonde hair, is half my age, and is about as far from a parental figure as is humanly possible …and I love him for it.

    1. Thanks, Laura. The titles are the hardest part sometimes. I know they are a bit misleading– the post is nowhere near as fun as the title suggests 😉

      Sounds like a perfect dentist-patient relationship!

  10. Polansky’s point about loving what you do is so much more simply said than done.
    People have a fear of abandoning their training, education, income, lifestyle, snobby friends, etc., to go and really live life.

    I say to hell with those things. Leave ’em behind and go do what you love.
    Forget this “love what you do” foolery. 🙂 Maybe in Neverland but this is friggin’ real life… and we only live it once… and it passes by real damn fast.

    I had almost bought into this guy’s type of nonsense a long time ago. I kept rounding corners in life only to find that the monster was bigger around every turn. Someone once told me that this was because the monster was me.

    In other words, whenever I tried something different in life, everything still sucked. And some people were telling me that this was because the problem was me.

    I finally proved that none of that nonsense was true. It takes a while to find your element. It takes a while to find something that you can both excel at and enjoy as well. And it doesn’t make it any easier when, while you’re trying to get it together, people around you are looking down their noses and accusing you of floundering. Maybe that’s a tangent, but surely you get it.

    I pity this Polansky ass clown. Go do what you love girl. Fuck’em.

    Hey, just so you know… I haven’t complained in four days. FOUR DAYS! 😉

    1. Hey dink! Glad to see you weigh in again on this geeky dental blog! I (obviously) agree with everything you say. I think you’ve got the names mixed up though. Imitaz is the guy spouting the phony bullish*t about loving your job. He’s also the one who is smug and judgmental, basically accusing me of being a loser because I failed at dentistry 😉

      Polansky is the guy who gets it all. He very candidly says it’s not about loving all patients unconditionally but it’s about giving every patient the opportunity to form meaningful relationships with him. He also mentions that it’s not about love of his career, but more about finding meaning in what you do. and he recognizes it’s not all rainbows and lollipops and most people don’t like their jobs/careers.

      One of my best friends had a stroke last weekend at the age of 37. It’s a reminder for me to follow my own dreams and live the life that fulfills me the most. You never know what tomorrow brings. It’s confirmation that I should travel and buy my DSLR (which I love, btw,) and change careers when i realize I can’t live that way anymore. Anyway, you get that, I know.

      Just wanted to clear that up because Polansky has been very supportive, understanding, and authentic. Glad to see that you proved those a$$holes wrong and that you weren’t a loser wherever you go either! Nice work on the no complaining– I think you are doing much better than me. You’ve inspired me to start over today 😉

      Thanks again! I always love to hear your comments! Especially when they are snarky!

  11. Oh, yes. I did make a mistake. I’m glad that you corrected me on that, and you did clear it up very nicely.

    In response to your friend’s stroke, It’s interesting how these events, some tragic, some only a little jolting, can serve as a reminder of just how fleeting life is. I don’t stay focused on that sort of thing all the time, but do think about it. And I swear sometimes it seems like I’m the only person around who has ever noticed that all of this is temporary. Yeah, so why not enjoy it? 🙂

    I’ll soon be posting on my most recent reminder. Or maybe I won’t, but I might.

    And about not complaining… I could go on for quite a while about all of the positives that have come from it. You’ll feel like a new person.
    Steph noticed right away. 🙂

    1. If you do decide to write about your most recent reminder, I’m sure it will be compelling. You’ve motivated me– I’ve been most diligent today with the complaining, or I should say not complaining. I had a few cool moments where I turned some thoughts into positives, and felt grateful. It was good stuff. Very cool, too, that it was so noticeable to Steph!

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