It’s no secret that I am not a fan of social media and Facebook groups. Particularly for pathologic perfectionists (i.e., orthodontists), this method of communication is dangerous for several reasons:

First, those who post in these forums assume they assert unique views and ideas, imagining themselves as individuals. Yet, to a great extent, the views espoused are heavily influenced by colleagues, friends in the group, childhood upbringing and society at large. If you could track the views and opinions of the average member inside these groups, as a function of time, you would see them bend towards the average, the longer the member operates and communicates within the group.

This is only one reason why you’ll never catch me dead inside a Facebook group for orthodontists. It’s also why you’ll never see a user group with this type of communication created for CEOs of publicly-traded companies. One of my friends and business mentors travels to New York City at the end of next month to ring the bell on the New York Stock Exchange, as the company in which he is heavily invested is finally going public and they invited him and a small handful of leaders to be present for the big day.

At dinner this weekend, I asked him why he thought people operating at his level (i.e., above $100 million in net worth) don’t waste their time on social media, and in particular, inside private Facebook groups, as more and more doctors seem to be wasting countless hours in these potentially destructive environments. His answer was pretty shocking: “Many people look for validation in groups because they are insecure. They flock together and succumb to the pressure to fit in and blend in, because they are uncertain about their self-worth.”

I nodded in agreement because I’ve seen the damage of groupthink firsthand. You might be subconsciously unaware of the grip it has on you. If you participate in Facebook groups for orthodontists or dentists, ask yourself how many times in the last year you’ve intentionally entertained an idea that is the very opposite of the group or conventional wisdom in our profession. Were you able to hold onto that view, and, if so, how long?

Only through awareness of the areas in which you conform, can you start to strengthen your ability to reason on your own. Take the opposite approach to your peers. Start with the assumption that you are not as much of an individual as you think you are. Deeply examine where your thoughts, beliefs and assumptions are impacted by everything around you. Be brutally honest with yourself.

It’s one of many reasons why doctors fly from all over the world to meet with me and ask me to fix their practices. They’re really asking me to unlock them from the chains of groupthink, confirmation bias and inaccurate opinions about our profession and its place in society and free markets. Only then can doctors truly grow.

Business school gave me an entirely different view on elective healthcare. It challenged everything I thought I knew about management, strategy, finance and marketing for health care facilities and procedures. One of the big reasons why I think it had such a profound impact on my ability to help doctors grow their practices quickly is that I was the only orthodontist in my business school class. Everyone else had entirely unique perspectives on both simple and complex issues inside our profession. Because my professors and classmates weren’t entrenched in orthodontic groupthink, they helped me see clearly. I didn’t need the validation or attention of any other orthodontists in order to create massive breakthroughs for my own practices, my clients and now for the profession at-large.

If you rely on your goals, outcomes and progress to elevate your self-image, you won’t be held hostage to the ideas, attention and approval of others either. If you want to kill the groupthink in your life, this is a great place to start.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.