Dr. Hayes' Acceptance Speech

When I was notified that I would be receiving this award, I was stunned: I found it startling to be named and humbly, I thank you for this honor.

Loren Feldner was a leader, a person larger than life, and to receive this in his name is simply amazing. To my many friends here: know I have appreciated your encouragement and support over the years; you mean the world to me.

In front of me is a sea of leaders. Everyone in this room is a leader at one level or another, whether you are a CDS member, a CDS staff member, a friend or spouse who have come tonight for support. All engaged: all leaders.

Some of you are just starting out, some have reached your peak (This is an Installation, a celebration of success, after all), some are now sitting on your laurels, but most are in the midst of your journey of leadership.

Knowing I would be here today, in front of you, has brought me to consider what leadership means in these challenging times.

A long time ago, Dr. Sam Marcus, one of my first mentors in dentistry, from the Northwest Branch, made the observation that local and state organizations seem to take on the style, the mores, of what goes on in our national stage. And over the years, I’ve seen that often this can be said to be true.

Scary, isn’t it?

How we now see, nationally and worldwide, misinformation, chaos, fear, distrust and disrespect apparently thriving. Yes: There has always been discourse and disagreement; but now, promoting conflict seems to be the new norm.

If Dr. Marcus were alive today, I wonder what he would say? Is this how we want to see our local and state organizations operate? When things are getting dark, how can we shed some light?

If there is one thing I’ve learned on my journey, it is this: The first person to influence is yourself: that is where to start. And the second thing is: to never forget that you never know how your interactions will affect those with whom you in contact today. I challenge each leader in this room to think about the kind of leader you are. Do you work to inspire, or do you conspire to manipulate? Do you often examine your motives, how you fulfill your ambitions? Are you kind? Are you respectful? Is “winning” your goal or is it to make the world a better place?

Self-knowledge, honesty and being mindful go a long way. These teach us in the words of Winston Churchill, that success is not final, failure is not fatal, and it is the courage to continue that counts.

Every single person here has the capacity to improve our world. Above and beyond the powerful fact that we have been trained to relieve suffering, we have a responsibility to acknowledge that we can win friends and do influence people.

I am so impressed by all of you: as leaders, it is certain: you will be the change you wish to see in the world. (Ghandi).

The eloquent words of John F. Kennedy resonate: One person can make a difference, and every person should try.

With that thought, I once again thank you for this honor.