Director's Message: Change or die!

June 27, 2008
A strategy emerges when you are trying to move an immovable object for the sake of positive change. It's relate, repeat, and reframe.

The ADHA annual session in Albuquerque was a recent opportunity to get back to basics in our profession. The student assembly was inspiring, as the energy and excitement of new direction and spirit filled the room.

The ADHA is the perfect occasion to recognize outstanding dental hygiene leaders who have a vision, and who work towards that vision. These leaders work not for a prize or recognition, but for the pure desire to make a difference, change someone's life, and give of themselves for a cause. My sincere congratulations to all the award winners, and to ADHA for planning such a wonderful meeting.

After attending these ceremonious events, I find myself asking why? Why do people dedicate their heart, mind, and body to a cause, to a passion that has taken hold? Why do people change their current patterns to make room for new ones? Is it because they have an unfulfilled desire that needs to be met, or is it because they are faced with a situation, and they realize that changing the situation is a must!

Sometimes change does not come naturally. We can all experience difficulties that stubbornly persist. When someone is stuck, when they have tried again and again to overcome a problem and all their efforts seem to have failed, many people would give up. Many people may buy into thinking something cannot be changed or it's an impossible fix, so why bother.

That is not the case with the ADHA award recipients, who keep going in the face of all obstacles. My wish for readers is that we all realize change happens — sometimes naturally, sometimes with force. Sometimes change occurs easily and continues for a while, and then halts. Sometimes change happens when we are not paying attention. Either way, change happens. I believe we all must change or die.

In Alan Deutschman's book "Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life," he discusses the framework to successful change. If you find yourself in a situation that you would like to see changed, you should begin within. Deutschman recommends three keys to change — relate, repeat, and reframe.

Relate is defined as: "You form a new emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope. If you face a situation that a reasonable person would consider hopeless, you need the influence of seemingly unreasonable people to restore your hope — to help you believe that you can change and expect that you can change."

Repeat: "The new relationship helps you learn, practice, and master the new habits and skills that you'll need. It takes a lot of repetition over time before new patterns of behavior become automatic and seem natural — until you act the new way without thinking about it."

Reframe: "The new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation and your life. Ultimately you look at the world in a way that would have been so foreign to you that it wouldn't have made any sense before you changed."

These condensed keys to change are the basis for new hope, new skills, and new thinking. Many times we begin to change, for example, we begin a fitness routine, start eating healthier, begin to speak more kindly about others, champion an injustice, change jobs, whatever the change may be. We may even begin to change and feel truly energized. Yet at some point along the way, an obstacle may appear, and we may get STUCK. We all struggle and get knocked down. Yet just like the award recipients, if the new behavior or change we want to make is our passion, then the three keys will help us on the journey to change.

I applaud all change seekers. The change makers are those who are mastering change, who may be stuck, yet who can learn to use the three R's: relate, reframe, and repeat. Keep going, your voice and actions matter. We all must change or die. See you all soon at RDH Under One Roof.

Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH
Director eVillage