Principle 1 Effort Equals Results


Effort Equals Results

The first principle of the Alexander Discipline is Effort Equals Results (E = R). This basic formula or philosophy is the foundation on which all else is built and is an outgrowth of a philosophy of life. This equation was derived from the book As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen1 (Fig 1-1). More than 100 years ago, Allen stated that, “In all human affairs, there are efforts and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result. Chance is not.” Such simple words can have a powerful influence on those who apply this philosophy to their own lives.


Fig 1-1 Philosopher James Allen.

No one can expect his or her life to be completely smooth, without bumps in the road. In general, however, the attitude with which the individual approaches these bumps will have a great impact on the outcome. The harder a person works on a problem, the “luckier” he or she becomes. This is so true in orthodontics. Whether the challenge is learning to bend omega loops or motivating a patient, the more effort given, the better the results will always be.

The concept of E = R has been the theme of our office since its inception. When patients and parents enter, the first thing they see is the sign on the wall (Fig 1-2). All educational material has been prepared with this thought in mind (see also Fig 20-3).


Fig 1-2 The first thing patients see when they enter the author’s practice is the principle upon which it is built.

Keys to Success

After 40 years of clinical practice, I have identified several keys to success. Systems come and go, technology changes, but certain truths remain that are independent of the times and can lead to success … whether in orthodontics or in life.


One of the most important elements in each person’s life is the concept of self-confidence. Although this outlook can be misinterpreted as conceit, every orthodontist must have this attitude if he or she expects to be successful. In the children’s story The Little Engine That Could, the little train kept itself motivated by saying, “I think I can; I think I can.” Like the train in the fable, orthodontists must give their very best with each patient. Although clinicians may fall short occasionally, they keep trying. Baseball immortal Babe Ruth was asked what he thought about when he struck out. He replied, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” What a positive attitude!


The information presented in the following chapters is a product of my curiosity and persistence. As Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, said:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not … nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not … unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not … the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

The slogan “Press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.


When the E = R formula is applied to orthodontic results, every patient should be treated as if he or she were the orthodontist’s own child or spouse. Nevertheless, although I strive to produce the very best results possible, after treating more than 14,000 patients, I have yet to produce the perfect result. Clinicians must be realistic when it comes to working with human beings.

It has been said, “To strive for excellence is good; to strive for perfection is a terrible waste of time.” This ap/>

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Jan 1, 2015 | Posted by in Orthodontics | Comments Off on Principle 1 Effort Equals Results

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