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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

A meeting with triumph and disaster

Why do the most successful people belittle the very achievements that the least successful people seem to be striving for?

Accolades, affirmation and achievements are all after-effects. They’re outcomes, they’re the end products of the work that’s been put in combined with luck. We can control our own inputs, the journey that we go on and the things we do on a daily basis but there will always be an uncontrollable element that will determine whether or not we have anything to show for it at the end of the day.

I place dental implants and it is an unfortunate fact that sometimes (less than 5% of the time) the implants don’t work. This is a very bad outcome in my book, I hate it when things don’t go perfectly according to plan but I won’t improve by focussing on the failed implant. There are other times when a treatment turns out perfectly, when everything went right and the end result is indistinguishable from the natural tooth next door, but again, if I bask in the glory of this great result, I still won’t improve. Things work out perfectly sometimes despite the mistakes we make along the way and other times things go wrong despite doing everything right.

Growth and learning comes not from focussing on the end result but by reflecting and perfecting the process by which we get there. I take the time to reflect on every implant treatment that I provide, there’s never been a single treatment that I’ve not thought I could improve in some way and there are, unfortunately some that haven’t worked at all. I hope the common theme through every single patient I’ve treated is that I’ve learned at least one thing which has in turn helped me to care for my next patient that little bit better.

It’s always nice to receive recognition for what we do or who we are, but this should never be the aim. Whether we’re treating patients, caring for kids, or making vacuum cleaners (Dyson has never stopped trying to make better vacuums despite being widely perceived as being the best for many years now), it is the process, or the journey is what matters if we are to keep growing, not the outcome.

If you can dream and not make dreams your master

If you can think and not make thoughts your aim

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same

Rudyard Kipling

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