I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot

Molly PereiraFeatured News

Dr. Carrie Mauterer

By Carrie Mauterer, D.D.S., CDA Editor
From the Spring 2022 Journal of the Colorado Dental Association

One of the things I missed the most during COVID lockdowns and restrictions was the theater. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend “Hamilton” as it rolled through Denver (with a ticket won in the lottery back in 2019)! After completing a downtown brunch, we entered the sacred halls of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Buell Theater lobby and I felt that familiar thrill of anticipation as we meandered our way to our seats. Soon thereafter I sat in my velvety, cushioned chair and drank in the smells and sights of the stage that I had been missing for the last two years. The raw emotional limbic response that the experience drew out of me made me wonder to myself why the performing arts have such a hold on me.

Sure, there are fun aspects of the theater like people watching and having hot cocoa during intermission, but I think my love for performing arts goes so much deeper than that. I am in awe of the actors who rise up in front of an audience with effortless grace. I know there are a handful of people in this world who were born with natural stage presence, but I also know the vast majority of people who dazzle audiences have worked hard to develop their skills up there.

The same goes for our dental colleagues who seem to be naturally talented in front of a crowd. Sure, some dentists were born with the epic combination of science smarts, steady hands and the innate ability to mesmerize a crowd, but most worked through self-doubts, failures and embarrassing microphone feedback in order to look so effortless on stage. Before they flourished…they flopped, faltered, flailed and floundered. (I think I just won a verbal victory lap; I’m going to loan those lyrics to Lin-Manuel Miranda to write a cabinet battle #3.)

Personally, I enjoy placing myself in front of audiences to push that grit. When I wrap up a speech, I always give my husband the report, which typically goes something like this:

“It went pretty well; I didn’t fall down on the way to the podium so…score for me. Early indicators of my speaker approval rating show a 42% sweaty factor, 6% choked on my own air detractor and 52% awesome animated hand gestures factor.”

Volunteering with MDDS, CDA and ADA through the last 17 years has given me countless opportunities to practice and I am so grateful for the safe environment organized dentistry offers to push myself.

Through leadership roles in organized dentistry, you can practice getting in front of the mic and developing strategy like the mutual benefit of calculated compromise. Exiting “the room where it happened” with two “diametrically opposed foes” who both feel like they just won is the goal. Success doesn’t just happen without skill and practice. As Lin-Manuel says, graceful negotiation is “The art of the trade; how the sausage gets made.”

Will you be able to develop that skill set within the confines of the four walls of your practice, or would you like to join us in a broader more powerful influence in your profession’s future? Is it intimidating at first? Uh…yeah. It brings on a sweat factor of 92% at the beginning. But as you grind your grit and omit to quit while you lay out your wit, the pathway becomes clearer and more attainable with less of your personal budget going toward antiperspirants.

Being able to voice your opinion in a constructive manner with clear communication takes practice and feedback. It is an essential skill for every dentist to learn because it is the leadership building block that can take you down your pathway to success and beyond.

When you get involved in organized dentistry, you will find yourself on a journey of personal growth that can take you from moments of speaking up in committees and board meetings to speeches in front of thousands of your best friends and colleagues. The dental world is your oyster.

Colorado is a particularly supportive group of professionals, and I am grateful to our members for their collegiality and inclusion. It is because of this supportive environment that we have launched more national leaders in our profession than most states in the country.

If you are interested, one of the easiest ways to grow your leadership skills is to attend the CDA Annual Session and House of Delegates. This is a one-day commitment (although most doctors spend the night and stay and play through the weekend). This year we are holding our Annual Session in Vail, CO. It doesn’t get any better than mountain air, moose sightings and mounds of dentists bringing their best debate to the mic. Here you can sit back and learn negotiating strategies or get up to the microphone and practice public speaking in a safe environment. And yes, it’s OK to disagree with each other about the best approach to protect our profession. In fact, it is healthier to have disagreement and different ideas than to have thousands of hive minds. Bring it Colorado. Healthy debate guided by fair, courteous and inclusive parliamentary procedure manners has been happening since Hamilton moved to New York City to be a new man. You don’t want to miss your shot.

Rise Up with us!