Bonnie Ware is a nurse who spent a decade counseling people who were dying. And over that time, she noticed that the most expressed regret was, “I wish I’d had the courage to live life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
In other words, most of them regretted not living life by their own philosophy, and they told Bonnie that they had paid a huge emotional price for doing this – in the form of a looming life regret.
On a professional level, we are confronted with this situation as well, particularly when we partner with insurance companies.
We often assume that our patients value their insurance coverage much more highly than they truly do.
We often assume that patients do not want to spend any personal money on maintaining or improving their health and appearance.
We assume that patients have no capacity to appreciate how we can help them.
But these are largely just stories in our heads, created out of fragments of previous negative experiences, which we then use to create a shorthand way of organizing our time, our day, and our professional life.
Why invest a lot of un-billable time with people when we expect them to fit within our shorthand world view? Why take the time to help others make better choices, when they don’t value what we have to offer very much any way?
If we never take the time to clarify what is important to us, and live like we believe it, then we end up chasing after what we think other people think. And that is a deep, dark rabbit hole full of distortions and rationalizations.
Great practices are built from the “inside-out”. They are built one brick at-a-time on top of a foundation of core values and then a living philosophy -not the other way around.
The murky, grey areas we find in the interpersonal space with our patients typically exist because we have not yet clarified what we believe, and what we are subsequently willing to stand for, against – and ultimately do.
And in the absence of a clarified practice philosophy and thus purpose, we tend to adopt systems and structures from others…the latest guru, consultant, or friend down the street. And those may or may not coincide with who we are inside -because they are based on someone else’s beliefs and philosophy. And when we run someone else’s systems it drains our practice of energy and enthusiasm, with the Law of the Least Common Denominator eventually ruling at the end of the day.
And a least-common-denominator lifestyle is almost always one filled with regret.
Paul A Henny, DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, ©2018
Read more at www.codiscovery.com