Thursday, February 29, 2024

Leap and the Net will Appear

"What do I fear? I fear stagnation and lack of progress. I fear never reaching my potential and being average. I fear being forgotten...the past...yesterday's news. I fear giving up and being passed by, going softly into that good night. I fear settling, giving into the "that's just the way it is" mindset. I fear dying without leaving my mark. And most of all, I fear NOT feeling these fears anymore..." Author unknown

How did I get to be so old?

When I turned 50 in 2018, I began to consciously reinvent my life. "Act 1" is over, it was time to explore new things for "Act 2."

That year, I sold my dental practice and became an employee. I still loved dentistry, but I didn't love the day-to-day management anymore. I sold it to a small group. We never made a big announcement to our patients about it. The practice philosophy never changed. I enjoyed it more as I only had to concentrate on my dentistry and the relationships with my patients. The bandwidth in my brain was now greater and I found myself constantly daydreaming about what I could do with the second half of my career.

I had been a dentist for 23 years at the time. I had made my mark on the profession of dentistry. I constantly pushed myself to practice at the highest level possible. I was well respected by my peers. I received many accolades and honors over the years for my dedication to both the profession and the community. I gave presentations to my colleagues near and far on well-being and leadership concepts. I taught at University of Michigan and University of Colorado Dental Schools. I was on the board of my local and state dental societies. Most importantly, I cherished the relationships I had with my patients and my team.

With my new-found free time, I pursued some athletic goals I had. I ran a 50 mile trail race in Page, AZ. This was the farthest I had ever run. I entered the race to prove to myself that age is just a number. It was a great day, plus I got to experience running through the desert and be in the beauty of the slot canyons and other spectacular rock formations that area is known for.

Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ
Horseshoe Bend, Page, AZ
That October, I was offered an entry into the Ironman World Championships through a charity slot with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I raced in honor of my mom who died of leukemia the previous year. I raised almost $70,000 and completed an event that I never thought possible for me.

Finish line- Ironman World Championship, Kona, HI

Soon after the Ironman, I was elected to serve on the American Dental Association's Board of Trustees representing 7 states in the southwest (including Hawaii). I am honored to now have the opportunity to serve my profession at the highest level.

Just after being elected by my colleagues to be the 14th District Trustee to the American Dental Association representing CO, WY, UT, NV, NM, HI and AZ.

And most importantly, On October 21, 2018, I reached 20 years of sobriety. My recovery is the key that has opened up the windows to every opportunity in my life.

My 20 year sobriety token

The reinvention had begun. Four items checked off my bucket list. However, something was missing.

This may sound crazy, stupid, and borderline insane, but I plan to make a bigger impact in the second half my career. To do this, I will be leaving the practice I created 17 years ago.

I am someone who is not satisfied with the status quo. My career has seen me on a unique trajectory. I have experience and talents in a variety of platforms both within and outside of dentistry.

It is time for me to explore some of these further. Today, I still feel young. I still want to be on the uphill slope of my growth. I know that I have more to accomplish and the energy to make it happen.

This calling isn't impulsive. Though I had dreams of doing something different for many years, I can identify that a seed began to take root within me in 2015 when I was President of the Colorado Dental Association. During those years on the board, I was a key contributor to several legislative initiatives in Colorado and the US. I learned that our legislators relied on professional experts (such as me) to create sensible laws. I even considered running for the Colorado State Assembly in 2015.

I spent many hours staring at my vision board that I keep on my desk.  So many phrases constantly jumped out at me. The universe was telling me to follow my heart; go after your dreams. 
Vision Board on my desk

"There's no stop in you. Doing a world of good. Change your thoughts and you'll change the world. Unstoppable. Go big or go home. Life isn't about waiting out the storm, It's about learning to dance in the rain. Up for anything. The Power of prayer
I will change the world."

It has become evident to me that I need to go all in. 

Many years ago, I was challenged by a mentor of mine to grow a certain aspect of my practice.  He pointed out that I was just dipping my toes in the pool, If I wanted to truly grow, I needed to fully jump in.  I followed his advice.  He had done it, I could too.  Of course I grew, but only because I went all in. I have done this many times since. I have never regretted going all in.   

It is time to go all in again. I am going back to school!  I have enrolled in a Master's program in health care policy and regulatory leadership at the University of Denver.  I don't know how this will go or what I will do with this degree. I have faith that everything will work out in the end as long as I continue to moving forward.

I still plan to practice dentistry here in Colorado. I cherish the relationships I have buillt with my patients. I loved the challenge of partnering with you to help you achieve ideal oral and overall health. However, my future will not be with TCDO. Thanks to all my patients for the honor of serving you over the years. I hope our paths cross in the future. I wish the office of TCDO and especially my team the best and will always hold them in the highest regard. 

Also, I still plan to represent the 14th District as our Trustee to the American Dental Association.  I consider being entrusted to serve in this capacity as the highest honor in dentistry. I will continue to execute my duties with courage, passion and creativity to help push the organization forward in a big way.  I am ultra passionate about helping to create dentistry's future.  Now with the pandemic, I am even more excited to help set policies and guidelines to ensure a safe and fulfilling work environment. 

I heard this phrase on a podcast recently, "Take the leap and the net will appear." 

Leaping into the unknown...I will continue to soar until the net appears!

Road to the unknown, Mt. Crested Butte, CO
The fear inspires me into action.
Thank you to everyone who supports me in Act 2!


Please leave a comment to wish me well or tell me I'm nuts!

Monday, January 1, 2024

Tapping into Synchronicity

Every morning, I prepare for the day to be my best self- to be ready for all situations both envisioned and unplanned. I spend time in meditation and contemplation. Then I journal my thoughts and intuitions.

Today's meditation from the "Calm" app inspired me to share.
"We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. " Joseph Campbell
Appropos for the first day of 2024.
Of course, I have goals I wish to accomplish. I am also seriously open to the realm of the unknown where unlimited possibilities lie - far beyond what my brain can imagine.
I try to be creative in my actions, while remaining grounded in reality. It is a balance, a dance. I often run these inspirations by mentors, friends, sane voices, etc. Collectively, my intuition processes all these perspectives and it guides me.
I consciously stay open to possibilities. I look for signs that the universe has something more in store for me. I try to be calculated, yet loose with my attachments.
Through my experience, I trust in synchronicity. However, it is only when I am in action do the signs appear. I have to walk the path (both physically and metaphysically) in order to catch glimpses of the messages.
I have been injured and not getting on the trails as often as I wish. I haven't run since October. This morning, I gave my surgically repaired knee a test. It was great to be on the trail watching the sunrise illuminate the valley as I trudged along. And the knee felt great as I hiked, climbed and descended the trail.

Good start to the year. Happy New Year, my friends!

Saturday, October 28, 2023

The Dilemma of the Poet, Artist and Leader

Why is it that so many poets, artists and leaders have a melancholic temperment?

They are longing for a more perfect world. They are cognizent to the gap between the world as it is and the world as they wish it could be. They feel a calling to close this gap, and they are inspired to take action.

There is conflict - both internal and external - and this is the genesis of their melencholy.

Many become paralyzed by fear. Fear of failure, the enormity of the task ahead , and/or apathy leads to the surrender of our motivation. Over time, this melencholy becomes normalized, and they end up in a rut. We develop coping mechanisms that justify their place, and they decorate this rut. They eventually hit a bottom or a wall and become aware that there is trouble.

Many become inspired to change. They stand at the crossroads. They see the path they are on, and they see the path towards a better future. They courageously take the first step on their new path. They keep moving forward - small step after small step, and they begin to build momentum.

They start to feel the shift in temperment, they start to see the changes. They start to move with more purpose. Angels appear on their path to help. Like-minded people join them on the path and build even more momentum. The fly-wheel starts to spin.

As the gap gets smaller and smaller, the world is changed for the better. And so is the poet, the artist, and the leader.

I intentionally expressed this narrative in the third person (they, them, their). I also have lived this story many times in my life. Life has its peaks and valleys. The key for me has been action. I keep seeking inspiration through self reflection, and I find ways to move forward.

(Inspired by @SethGodin and @RichRolll)
American Dental Association

#theadventurecontinues #anythingispossible #sober #ADAPresidentElect #ADAChangemaker #ultrAspire #inspiredbyAthletes

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Ego Vs. Spirit

Musings from my airplane seat this morning...

Ego vs. Spirit

The purpose of recovery is to "right-size" our egos.  Our ego could be our greatest asset (through truth) or our greatest liability (through deception).  

In self deception, our ego puts our own wants first, thrives on scarcity- tells us we need more and craves constant recognition. We exhibit self- seeking behaviors that drives us towards fragility and when we are fragile, a drink sounds like a good idea.  

In order for it to be an asset, the voice comes from a higher place and serve a higher purpsose (Spirit driven). It challenges us to push ourselves beyond what we think is possible- we see others accomplish big things and gives us the thought, "If they can do it, why not me too?" It has a foundation component level of selflessness, humility and altruism.  

Thinking of doing something BIG (Run 100+M, Ironman, stretch life goal)?  Ask yourself WHY?  What is the driving motivation behind it?

From my experience, when the intentions behind the action come from asset dominated (or spirit driven) place, the joy is found in the journey.  We must evolve in order to achieve the goal. Who you become in pursuit of the goal is the real gift.  

On my recovery path I need to constantly ask myself is this action spirit-driven or ego-driven.  I find the answer comes through step work.  


#theadventurecontinues #anythingispossible #sober #ADATrustee #UltrAspire #inspiredbyAthletes

Friday, May 26, 2023

Ironman Tulsa 2021

 There's nothing like crossing the finish line at an Ironman. Being unable to carry on a conversation during the 2.4 mile swim or the 112 mile bike, you spend a lot of time in your head. If your head space isn't right, it could turn into a long day.

For me, Ironman Tulsa was a constant battle in between my ears as I moved along in the race. There were times sublime when I shed tears of gratitude recognizing all the gifts in my life. This was balanced against dark times where I had to get into a meditative focus to just move forward one more step, one more aid station, and even one more mile.
Looking forward at the beginning of the run, I couldn't fathom running a full marathon. But I could run 1 mile. So I did. Then I ran another. Then another. Along the run, I probably wasn't the most talkative at this race as I was suffering and needed to focus A LOT!
Thank you to all the fellow runners out there who lifted me up, ran with me and encouraged me to join them in conversation. Thank you to the amazing crowd that lined the course all day cheering us on. Thank you to the amazing volunteers that made sure that my every need was met throughout the day.
So as the run portion brought us back into town, the energy shifted and became palpable. A magnetic pull to the finish. The density of the crowd started to increase. The words of encouragement shifted to sentiments of
for your accomplishment. The decibels increased.
The final right turn, a blinding light smacked my face. Hundreds lined the barriers. Dozens of high fives with the spectators- especially the kids whose focused mission that day was to not miss a single runner.
I heard the legendary Voice of Ironman, Mike Riley ahead. My smile grew, my skin started to get goosebumps. I entered the finishers chute and ran towards him as he announced, "Number 594 from Denver, Colorado, Brett Kessler- YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!" He had his fist out and we exchanged one final fist bump.
When I saw the fist bump picture, I thought of one thing, Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam". First, I thought it was a hilarious comparison. Then, as I thought about it, there's some deeper meaning there.
My interpretation of the painting is that God is reaching with a sense of determination to touch a non-chalant Adam- a metaphor of human ego edging out the spirit. I'm not a very religious person, but I do believe in a higher power and strive to get my inspiration from that source. Often, I become non-chalant towards my higher power and my ego runs the show.
Not today, and especially, not at this moment. I strongly felt the gifts of his presence in my life as I reached for one of my heroes in the Ironman world. A moment I'll never forget.
Pushing myself through challenges such as the Ironman never fails as an opportunity to explore myself at a deeper level. There's still lots to explore! Thanks for joining along for the adventure.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Level 5 Leadership

I was perusing through one my favorite books on leadership last night - "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. One of the key factors in a successful company comes from its leadership. The leaders that were at the helm of the successful companies that he studied had similar attributes. He defines the combination of these as "Level 5 Leadership". The five most important characteristics of Level 5 leaders as:

1. A personal sense of humility

2. A deep personal understanding of one's strengths and weaknesses

3. A laser-like focus on the organization's purpose

4. A passionate commitment to continuous learning

5. A relentless determination to do what is right, not what is easy

No one leader does this perfectly, but it is definitely something to strive for. I find that I am most effective as a leader when I am exhibiting these characteristics leading my dental office, various committees/organizations I am part of, my family, etc.

I try to inspire others along these lines through my actions. I thank my many mentors and role models that I have had a long the way who showed me how effective this style of leadership can be!

#theadventurecontinues #anythingispossible #sober #ADAtrustee #14thdistrict #ADASRI #diversityandinclusion #Audit #DentalLifelineNetwork #ultrAspire #inspiredbyathletes 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

It's an Inside Job

A conscious decision to grow demands that we become better versions of ourselves.

Expect to evolve.

Winning insists we clear out the noise and stay the path. Expect obstacles along the way.

Some people in your life (conciously or unconsciously) will be threatened - use it to strengthen your resolve. Playing small will not get you across the finish line. Pay no attention to their insecurities.

Some people in your life will be supportive - welcome their help.

Some people in your life will become inspired. They may even join you in your journey - Keep supporting each other as you grow.

Angels will appear on your path - search for the signs of their existence. Welcome the messages they bring.

In my experience, this process is a cyclical paradox - Action strengthens the drive. Ultimately, the spark to do what it takes comes from deep within. The spark initiates the action, then the action creates a stronger spark.

Know this is a courageous, solo journey. However, we are not alone. "The moment one fully commits oneself, Providence moves too." (Geothe)


Cannon Beach- Facing West, Oregon March 2023

Same location facing East

Perspectives can differ and both can be amazing. 

Welcome the bumps in the road as they make us stronger. They build our resilience.

Investigate, contemplate and meditate on every milestone along the way. Celebrate the progress, learn from the challenges. Keep the goal in focus.

Know that the person you are becoming is a better version of yourself.

Your journey will impact the world along the way. Not just at the destintation.

Be Bold.

Go All In.

#TheAdventureContinues #AnythingIsPossible #Sober #ADATrustee #ADASRI #ADAchangemaker #ultrAspire #inspiredbyAthletes #MeditationCreatesInspiration #stoicism

Leap and the Net will Appear

"What do I fear? I fear stagnation and lack of progress. I fear never reaching my potential and being average. I fear being forgotten....