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Inside Dental Technology
September 2023
Volume 14, Issue 9

The Mule and the Magician

The most difficult challenge for me as a teacher is explaining and defining the concept of "esthetics." As I often say, each person's interpretation can differ. Even if we present similar reference points or data, it may be nearly impossible to demonstrate the concept of esthetics in exactly the same way. Similarly, the concept of value is often understood differently. Value may be defined as relative worth, utility, or importance. Value, thus, is often intrinsic—or subjectively determined.

Author Trevor Crane's fable, "The Mule and the Magician," is set on a farm and focuses on a hard-working mule who rises by dawn and works laboriously all day with little rest, only to rise again the next day to perform the same work all over again. He is ultimately rewarded for his hard work, but the story also tells of a magician who similarly rises early but gets things done better and faster each time she waves her magic wand. The magician's rewards are based on her results, and in the end, her rewards are greater than the mule's. The author asks his daughter whether she would prefer to be rewarded for the work that she performs or for the results of her work.

Without undermining the significance of hard work, I believe that most of us—similar to the author's daughter—would prefer to be rewarded for the results of our work rather than the time expended. Coincidentally, over my years of teaching, I have expressed that dentists and technicians need to work like detectives and magicians. Both examples, by trade, focus on the importance of gathering information and, with this knowledge, achieving successful results. In business and in life, the wisdom or value you possess may be seen as your magic wand, and how effectively you choose to use that wand is tantamount to the success that you achieve. Of course, hard work and dedication are noble work efforts; however, in my office, I encourage my teammates to focus on the value of their work, rather than spending time without using innovation or creativity. The value of their work should be demonstrated in what they create, the finished product, and its' "esthetic" worth. In the end, I believe that the more we think through each situation and process the information that we collect, the greater the value we create, the esthetic appeal, and the rewards.

Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT

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