Flipping Coins of Virtue

Molly PereiraFeatured News

By Carrie Mauterer, D.D.S., CDA President
From the Winter 2021 Journal of the Colorado Dental Association 

One year ago, I stumbled upon the book, “The Road to Character” by David Brooks. Mr. Brooks captured my attention immediately as he explored two different sets of gifts that we bring to this world. He separated our attributes into two categories: the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. 

He states, “It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral—whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?”

Most career advancements, awards and acknowledgements in the workplace these days are based on résumé virtues. This is not wrong or right. Virtues like hard work, resiliency, organization, intelligence and sacrifice are great virtues to recognize and appreciate. The thing I love about organized dentistry is that we place a huge emphasis on the eulogy virtues to balance out the résumé virtues. One set of virtues without the other will leave us falling short of our life goals. Organized dentistry recognizes and encourages the eulogy virtues like generosity, kindness, integrity and selflessness. That is why it feels so good to be a member. Together we bring balance to our collective life achievements.

Last year I was feeling a little burnt out and worn thin…and that was at the start of 2020. I was building up the second location of my practice and was feeling a little lost in my purpose and direction. The pressure felt like an old disagreeable relative overstaying his welcome at my home. I knew this visitor well–he has stayed at my home many times with each advancement in my 16-year career.  I was busting myself up worrying about working hard, improving systems and protocols, and staying resilient for my team. These are all great marketplace skills and are very important to focus on when showing up to work, but without an emphasis of eulogy virtues, it left me feeling a little hollow. For true happiness, I needed to focus on both sets of virtues when I moved through my days. What is success without generosity of spirit? What is achievement without kindness and deep love? Luckily, I stumbled onto David Brooks’ thoughts just in time. His words sunk into that part of my brain that stores away the things that really matter in life. I realized that I felt the need to share it with my colleagues.

So, in January of 2020, I brought handmade coins to the annual “Alphabet Breakfast”—the morning meeting of the American College of Dentists (ACD), International College of Dentists (ICD) and the Pierre Fauchard Academy (PFA). I gave one to each Fellow of the ACD, ICD and PFA. The Alphabet Breakfast is always held on the first morning of the Rocky Mountain Dental Convention. It is an inspiring way to start our three-day commitment to self-improvement.  It is a gathering of comrades and colleagues, of pals and partners, and of course of servants and shepherds.  The coins weren’t pretty, nor were they costly to make, but they were meaningful to me. And to show how meaningful they truly were, I glued glitter all over them…because what is spiritual growth without a little bit of sparkle? I gave a quick speech about the meaning behind them and asked if my Fellows would take selfies with their coins and send them to me. As you can see, they did not hesitate to join in on the fun. I have to admit I was a little pleased to see some glitter residue on the hands and faces of my fellow Fellows during the rest of that day.

Little did I know the journey that 2020 would bring to us all that year. I had no way to predict the amount of hard work, resilience and grit that all CDA members would need to make it through the year. Nor did I expect to see the amount of kindness, generosity and depth of love for one another I would witness as the year progressed. We mourned together, we celebrated together, and we felt a connection to each other that was deeper than COVID-19 could reach. Our collective résumé and eulogy virtues held our group together as we trudged through the year.

I am so proud to be a CDA member. I am also honored to be a Fellow of PFA, ICD and ACD. But most of all I am proud to be your servant leader and I hope that the résumé virtues of the CDA have met your needs while the eulogy virtues of the CDA have warmed your soul and inspired your energy. Every single member of the CDA is important to me. This past year, the CDA has not only been focused on the success of your career but also the success in your quest to grow your inner light. Be well all and thank you for allowing the CDA to continue to serve you.