by Bill Blatchford, DDS
For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: deserve levels, life choices, comfort zone, psychological barrier.
A deserve level is an interesting psychological barrier that is so real, yet so invisible. It is an invisible floor and ceiling that we create for ourselves, which influences our life choices. Whether you realize it or not, you have a floor under which you will not operate. We are uncomfortable breaking through our ceiling as well — like having more fun than we deserve, having others recognize us for being special, and having more money than we had planned. We have individual and unique standards for everything in our lives — not just money, but happiness, stress, work, play, friends, relationships, physical fitness, family conversations, professional achievement, and so much more.
Our deserve levels only show themselves when we near our floor or ceiling. We will do anything we can to stay within that comfort zone we have set. Most people have little problem with the floor, but struggle with the ceiling. Bigger or better really holds people down, as they think, "I do not deserve to have things this good." The problem with individual deserve levels is that we do not allow ourselves to think and dream beyond our own experience levels. If we have not seen it or felt it, we likely refuse to look at the possibilities for fear of failure or what others might think.
Here are some examples. A dentist most likely would never sleep on a park bench and be homeless. Yet the divorce rate is significant when building a new home that may be beyond the comfort level of one of the partners.
A dentist might have a deserve level for work which indicates to him that being busy — regardless of how productive — is more worthwhile than doing nothing. Work and the amount of busyness equals a noble activity. Thus, the dentist would rather be busy in the practice than work on systems that allow him to be more productive and profitable. His measure of self-worth is more tied to being busy than being productive and more profitable. Hard work can be a virtue which indicates a low deserve level in the value of time. Do you recognize yourself here?
This deserve level can relate to the time and effort economy (each hour equates to a pay level) vs. the results economy, which is really where the dentist's thinking should be. Working hard is the time and effort economy. Working smart with systems in place allows dentists to think and act in the results economy. Where are you in your deserve level?
The ceiling struggle for dentists can be about net return. Why do some people earn a net of $500,000 and some struggle to earn $200,000? Perhaps, for whatever reason, they do not believe they deserve to break through their ceiling to $500,000.
How much money are you comfortable having in savings? This demonstrates your deserve level. Look at the behavior of lottery winners, which many people aspire to be. When the big win happens, many times the money becomes a burden, and winners spend it as fast as they can to return to their deserve level of struggle. They think, "This is where I deserve to be.''
Having deserve levels helps us make decisions, avoid uncomfortable situations, and stay within those boundaries for security. All of this is positive. The downfall of ceilings in your deserve level is that they keep you in the area where you have experience. If you have never heard of any dentist with $1 million net, that goal is out of your realm of comfort. Without counseling and coaching, you cannot break out of your ceiling. At your present deserve level you want to be comfortable, so you will do anything to stay within that comfort zone.
If a coach could start with a clean slate, it would be much easier. But we all come with baggage, including our own deserve levels. With counseling and coaching, however, we can raise the boundaries.
If you had no fear, what new ceilings could you create? Check out your happiness quotient, your physical fitness, your weight, your net, the amount of stress you allow in your life, and your willingness to be fully present in conversations and relationships. Where are your ceilings and how are they keeping you at a plateau? Now, what do you need to do about it?
Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. Become a member of Blatchford FILES, Dr. Blatchford's monthly CD on winning at dental business. The first two months are free. Call (541) 389-9088 or visit www.blatchford.com for more information.