Habituation is one of the greatest barriers to our personal and professional development. By the time we've noticed that some aspect of our life is suboptimal, it's probably become habituated.
In fact, many of the moment-to-moment choices we make aren't choices at all. Instead, we're unthinkingly acting out of habit.
Your morning ritual. The drive to work. Your consultation. The report of findings. Your adjustment routine. What you do during those breaks between patients.
Much of our life is conducted on cruise control. We're not even present.
These habits serve us by reducing the bandwidth necessary to constantly invent our response to thousands of everyday opportunities.
Quickly we become creatures of... habit.
These habits grant us freedom--while simultaneously imprisoning us in a predictable, inevitable future of more of the same.
If you want to break free from an underperforming practice, you'll want to proactively create some new habits.
Anyone who has tried to break a habit knows how difficult it can be. Like a vinyl record that skips, our ingrained habits form deep ruts which are hard to escape.
Starting a new habit is often a more workable strategy.
That begins with consciously breaking the pattern.
Wake up at a different time.
Drive to work a different route.
Park in a different place.
Walk in the front door rather than the back.
Give your report in a different place.
Change the order of your exams.
You get the idea. Small, consciously driven changes can break the trance. It probably won't be where you'll end up, but it will give you a fresh perspective that will. Ultimately, the objective is to embrace Unconscious Incompetence.
When you are Unconsciously Incompetent, you don't even know what you don't know. You don't know what the question is. And any perception you have of your situation is blinded by what little you do know.
For example: A promising new staff member who comes from a medical background, bringing with him or her certain procedures, attitudes and perspectives which may or may not be represent the model of reality in a chiropractic setting. It's the same, but different.
For most of us, it's an uncomfortable feeling that produces anxiety. In the previous example, it may produce so much disorientation that the new staff member quits after the first day! However, if he or she perseveres, they come to a point where they move to the next level of mastery. That's referred to as Conscious Incompetence.
Now we know what we don't know. We have enough of a lay of the land to see what it is we're needing to learn. Now we ask better questions. We rarely linger during this phase because we want to get to the next: Conscious Competence.
This is when we're confident we can rise to the occasion. The problems that are presented to us are within our abilities to field. We know what to say. We know what to do. We're not a wizard or a savant (yet), but we're proficient. It feels good. And because there is one more level, we may not linger here very long either. In fact, before we know it, we are in the most dangerous place in our career or relationship. It may be where you are today. That's when we reach the mastery of Unconscious Competence.
How we each respond to this phenomenon forever affects our lives, our careers, and even our relationships. This is the place where habits take hold and become deeply ingrained.
Unconscious Competency is when we do we what we do so well, we don't even have to think about what we're doing.
Making change means countering the unthinking momentum and gravitational pull of the habits we've formed.
The solution? Take steps to become unconsciously incompetent again. In other words, re-enter beginner's mind and start over.
Learn a new adjusting technique.
Master a new piece of technology.
Reinvent your procedures.
Rethink your fees.
Consider hiring an associate.
Give a public seminar.
Buy a building for your practice.
You get the idea. The key is to stretch yourself and embrace the discomfort of not knowing what you don't know.
Up for it?
Bill Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate since 1981. He is the creative director of Patient Media and the co-founder of Perfect Patients. He’s been a regular speaker at Parker Seminars and other chiropractic gatherings since 1985. He is the author of 12 books that explore the doctor/patient relationship from a patient’s point of view. His chiropractic blog, in-office consultations, patient focus groups and consulting calls have helped hundreds of chiropractors around the world. His Monday Morning Motivation is emailed to over 10,000 subscribers each week.