Medscape Today, a division of Web MD, sends me daily notifications of current developments in the medical field. It helps me screen a lot of topics in a short time, there is even a section on dentistry. I can then click on a topic of interest to learn more about it. A few weeks ago, I happened upon this title, “Pregame Language Predicts Outcomes of Boxing Matches” I was curious and so I went to the site and read the article. It seems that what you say can predict the outcome of what you do. According to the author, statements communicating positive emotions, health and work are associated with a positive outcome whereas words conveying social functions or tentativeness were predictive of a negative outcome. At first this seems obvious, we all have seen athletes close their eyes before participating in an event in order to give themselves positive reinforcement and see themselves winning the event. We call that, “the power of positive thinking”. A book written in 1952 by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale has that same title and has sold over 5 million copies since it was published. We realize that the power of suggestion is very influential of the outcome of a task. If you are a golfer, you know that it becomes more difficult to hit a good shot immediately after your partner has hit a bad one. If you think you can’t do it, then you can’t do it. But we also know that a good outcome takes more than talk. You have to “walk the walk”, not just “talk the talk”. We see big talkers all the time on television today with the proliferation of reality TV. So how do we account for the results of this study?
What I believe is that we see two different ways in which people use these positive words. Confidence due to correct preparation, as opposed to confidence due to false hope and puffery, to boost one’s self confidence. When we are properly prepared we say things that reflect our confidence in our abilities. In the study we hear boxers say, “I feel great. I did everything I had to do in camp. I had great sparring, great strength and condition. Diet was good.” Or, “I’m ready and come fight night I’ll just go in there and do my thing.” These phrases illustrate the confidence that comes from preparedness. They aren’t just saying, “I have the right team, the right managers and a good coach.” Or, “Experience plays an important part but so does youth. We’ll see what comes out on top.”
So what does all of this mean to you, the dental practitioner? It means that you need to be prepared. It means that success doesn’t come from inflated talk and a false sense of self, but that it works the other way around. Positive phrases that come from being prepared predict success. Don’t think that you can be successful because you say that you are going to succeed, you need to “walk the walk”. Do your homework, investigate all the options, analyze the numbers, study the problem, be prepared and you will be successful.