By Dr. Michael Silverman
President, DOCS Education
Some of the most successful and satisfied dentists in America will tell you they owe a great deal of their success and overall peace of mind to the teachings of Kendrick Mercer.
Kendrick is legendary in elite dental circles for his unparalled ability to help dentists transform their professional practices and personal lives from unsatisfying to vastly rewarding – just by changing their thinking and belief systems.
A historian, philosopher, law school graduate, investment manager, and now author, Kendrick is anything but a dentist. Nonetheless, there may be no living dental practice consultant who has done more for more dentists and their families than Kendrick Mercer.
If you don't already know Kendrick, or at least know about his transformational approach to business and life, you have been missing out.
Now 82-years-old and still sharp as a whip, Kendrick lives on Wahsumka Island on Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho. There are no roads or motor vehicles on Kendrick's island, and the only way to and from his scenic home is by boat.
(L-R): Kendrick Mercer, his wife Lori, and DOCS Education President Dr. Michael Silverman
Nonetheless, dentists, other health professionals, CEOs, business owners, and politicians regularly make the journey to Kendrick's home, Stonehaven Cottage, to soak in his wisdom.
Earlier this year, Kendrick, with the support of his wife, Lori, and inspiration provided by his teenage daughter, Kate, spelled out for the first time his core philosophy in a surprisingly infectious book, titled: Whole Self: A Concise History of the Birth & Evolution of Human Consciousness.
The book is infectious because its power sneaks up on you as you read it – and frankly, it changes you.
As self-help books go, one subtitled A Concise History of the Birth & Evolution of Human Consciousness doesn't sound like a real bell-ringer.
But this book is.
Drawing on his extensive knowledge of history, anthropology, evolution, psychology, science – and business – Kendrick demonstrates the astonishing wisdom of human evolution, and how our biology, chiseled over billions of years, has splendidly prepared today's generation to adapt, survive, and thrive in a tranquil state of confidence.
The view from Wahsumka Island
Incisor recently made the boat journey to Wahsumka Island to sit with Kendrick and Lori to talk about his life, human history, Whole Self, the dental profession, and what the world might look like if only more people would – like Kendrick – become modern-day seekers of truth.
What follows are edited excerpts from our conversation:
Incisor: There are a ton of programs out there and books that will tell dentists how to be more effective in their practices and how to better manage their time and team members. There are none we know of, other than Whole Self, that teach dentists and others how to seek truth. What makes Whole Self a great business book?
Kendrick: If I were going to say it in two words, I'd say simplicity and truth. What we're taught as children is to confuse everything. Parents almost universally [teach] some form of "think before you act."
And we over-think, we over-analyze. We over-think instead of using the tools we have in Whole Self, which is simply trusting ourselves to respond spontaneously and appropriately to the event, to the problem, and act on it.
Your first response is your best chance of getting it right, and that's true in everything in life. The best executives in the United States make the mistake of having too many people and too much analysis, and not making immediate appropriate decisions.
I would tell any [business owner], "Keep it simple and act on your impulse."
We over-think instead of trusting ourselves
to respond spontaneously and appropriately
Incisor: There is a lot about the way you portray Whole Self and its power to change people and the world that reminds us of "The Force" in the fictional Star Wars film series. In your book, you suggest that when people learn how to tap into Whole Self, their lives are filled with a fresh, positive force. Is it too much of a leap to compare Whole Self to The Force?
Kendrick: I think it's a good metaphor. Certainly, being true to ourselves and being exactly who we are creates a force within us to be able to live a tranquil, safe, fulfilling life.
Everybody has the potential to be a great example of humanity. Very few become it.
Incisor: If we had "before" and "after" snapshots of three or four of the dentists who have been most influenced by you and your Whole Self philosophy, what is the biggest difference we'd see in their lives?
Kendrick: A quiet self-confidence. A tranquility. A sense of well-being. And a sense of truth.
Being absolutely satisfied and comfortable with who they are and how they live and how they express themselves.
They would most likely be successful financially [too], because that's part of being in Whole Self. We have to make sure that we feel solid financially and that we're not stressed.
So I like to include [when dispensing advice] making money, and having fun, and expanding family life, and joy of life.
Being true to ourselves and being exactly who we are creates
a force within us to be able to live a tranquil, safe, fulfilling life
Incisor: You made a conscious decision NOT to make Whole Self a "how-to" book. It's more of a "What's life about" book. Why?
Kendrick: Because how-to books don't interest me. What interests me is how people live, and how they function, and what stops each individual.
Everyone is a unique individual, and I know I can't solve [their] problem by giving some general advice. That's why what I wanted to talk about is the basics of who we are, who we can be, and what stands in the way of that truth and fulfillment.
Incisor: What can readers of Incisor do today, immediately, to begin to embrace the Whole Life way of living and to reap the benefits?
Kendrick: We're too much in our head. We have self-talk, we have over-thinking, and the first thing [readers] can do is to focus on getting out of their head and into the truth.
Be committed to the truth, today, in every aspect of the day. To be at truth with our employees, with our customers or clients, to be at truth with ourselves and our family. Commit to truth no matter how difficult. Start a shift in your whole company and your whole family [to] truth: We're going to be the truth, we're going to talk the truth, and we're going to share the truth.
Incisor: Thank you Kendrick and Lori for inviting us into your home and for sharing your philosophy.
[Editor's Note: Kendrick Mercer's new book, Whole Self: A Concise History of the Birth & Evolution of Human Consciousness, is available directly from the author at: https://www.kendrickmercer.com/main-store-page. Enjoy the book in an elegant printed hardback edition, as an e-book, or as an audiobook.
Incisor would like to thank The Dental Good Life™ Podcast (DGLP) for making its interview with Kendrick available to our readers. To hear DGLP's complete podcast featuring Kendrick, click here.
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