What Are Your Principles?

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others”
Groucho Marx.

The latest book I’m reading is Principles by Ray Dalio. Groucho’s principles have made me laugh for most of my life and I strongly recommend his work for everyone. But Mr. Dalio’s principles are ones we can ponder and live by.

Mr. Dalio has made a ton of money, which is really nice for him. HOWEVER, to quote his book, “While making money was good, having meaningful work and meaningful relationships was far better.”

I strongly suspect that, while Ray Dalio is clearly a master of financial markets, his work is successful because he is passionate about the people he has served all over the world. He loves interacting with those people and, in a world far more pressured and insane than ours, loves what he does.

What do you love in life? What makes you happy? What are YOUR unique principles that drive your existence?

If you could answer those questions, you can, indeed, structure your practice around your own happiness. And when you’re practicing happily- when you actually look forward to Monday morning- prosperity will inevitable follow.

There are online tools to look at your values. One is the Guilford values test. The link to it is below. Take a few minutes and see if you can find your own unique set of life’s priorities.


In my world, life is about loving relationships. I love the people who come to me for care. Some of them have been with us for decades and know as much about my family as I do about theirs. In our office, we take the time to assure that happens for everyone to the greatest degree possible. The time we take to do that and to discuss each individual’s health needs, wants, hopes, and finances makes us special in their eyes and makes them special in ours. Could our team spend less time using our soft skills and more time slamming out crowns, bridges, “cleanings”, etc.? Absolutely. But we choose not to and those who come to us prefer our approach. Those are our principles.

I think that Ray Dalio would have been a fantastic dentist, cut from the mold of Bob Barkley and L.D. Pankey. I have not finished his book yet, but it is pretty clear that his principles are very applicable to what we do. (So are Groucho Marx’s, but perhaps not necessarily in our dental offices.)

So, what are your principles? What thrills you? What do you value most about your life? And how does it all tie back into your daily work. A little bit of reflection could get you to the acres of diamonds that are in your backyard.