My implant journey started in 2011, while still a medical student. I enrolled in a one year course which involved online training and clinical days with a tutor in his practice. At that time it was extremely overwhelming, not the surgical part, but all the terminology that was being flaunted.
Fast forward ten years, my clinical practice is now limited to dental implants. It has taken me this length of time to get to a place where I feel comfortable placing dental implants. However, the more learning I do around dental implants the more gaps in my knowledge I identify. I have a passion for implant dentistry and I understand that it's a lifelong journey focused on continuously improving. This leads me onto mastery.
Mastery is something that fascinates me and recently I have read books by George Leonard and Robert Greene on the subject which I would highly recommend.
In George Leonard’s book he says, “If there is any sure route to success and fulfilment in life, it is to be found in the long term, essentially goalless process off mastery”.
I would like to share with you the three important lessons to achieving mastery as described in this book.
Firstly, George Leonard says mastery is about being a lifelong learner. He says if you want to truly master something you have to be willing to remain a beginner, and you must always focus on learning. A true master knows there are no experts, just students. You should understand it takes time and hard work to excel and the learning process should not be viewed as a chore.
Society bombards us with quick fixes and this is the opposite of mastery. We are inundated with offers for quick results and this is misleading.
George Leonard was an Akido master, and once a student asked him, ‘how long will it take me to master Akido?’ He responded with ‘how long do you expect to live?’
Secondly, he describes the path of mastery is full of resistance, to learn is to change and every change forces some level of resistance internally and externally. Stepping out of your comfort zone and the associated symptoms like discomfort and fear are signals of growth. He says don’t ignore this or run away from it. You have to welcome this feeling on the path to mastery. The greatest learning happens when you are out of your comfort zone.
Finally, mastery is about enjoying the process. He explains success on this path is through enjoying the process of practice. Not for the results. There will be periods where you feel you are not progressing and have plateaued. But you must keep practicing as you are turning new behaviours into habits. Rewards always come to someone who commits to the practice. However, for a true master, the rewards are not the goal, the practice is the goal. Masters love the practice as they can see themselves get better. Mastery is not about perfection it is about the process and enjoying the path.
I am committed to mastering full arch implant dentistry, but I know I still have a long way to go. Find out what you want to master and commit yourself to lifelong learning. Welcome the discomfort and fall in love with the practice.