The definition of insanity

Editor's note: The Coaches Corner column appears regularly on the advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

Living it? Breathing it? Feel stuck in it? Don't see a way out?

You've probably heard a very appropriate definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over again and (of course) getting the same results. You're probably laughing, smiling, and crying all at the same time about now, because I'm sure you've felt it, feel it -- or maybe you're living it right now.

For whatever reason, we live in a culture that has a very self-defeating motto: "Never give up." I have witnessed more businesses fail, more relationships fail, more ANYTHING fail because of that mantra of the American culture. Where in the heck did someone come up with that, and how (and why) did we buy into it?

Please don't misunderstand me; we must try, we must give it our best effort, we must think and play smart. However, when things aren't working, the best thing you can do is stop.

Yes, STOP.

What things do you keep doing over and over and over (and over) again without achieving different results? Conversations with your spouse or children? Staff meetings? Exercise programs? Diets? If you'll take me seriously for a moment and be honest with yourself, I'll place a wager that you (and all of us) do a lot of things over and over again, expecting different results but not getting them. What makes us think it will turn out differently "the next time"?

My coaching point is this: Stop doing what's not working and keep doing what IS working. Ask yourself the following simple question when you run into obstacles or don't get the results you've wanted: How is this working for me? If it's not, please don't continue the insanity.

Don Deems, D.D.S., F.A.G.D., known as the Dentist's Coach, is a co-founder of the Dental Coaches Association, an organization of dentists who are professional coaches committed to bringing professional coaching to the dental profession. Learn more about professional coaching by visiting or

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2010

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