Areas of Critical Ignorance: Invisible Barriers to Practice Growth

“Areas of Critical Ignorance”

Don’t you love that title? I got it from a book I’m reading, “The Answer” by John Assaraf and Murray Smith.

“Areas of critical ignorance”. It’s similar to the concept of “unconscious incompetence”, or you don’t know what you don’t know. However, areas of critical ignorance are those places that have a profound impact on your business (and your life). These are not just things you don’t know. They are things you don’t even realize are standing between you and your success.

Often the biggest limitations are those that you can’t see. Of course, the difficulty is that they are blind spots. For instance, let’s imagine you get a lot of clients that come for the first session and don’t come back again. You would be completely baffled by this. You might wonder if your fees are too high and try lowering them. You might wonder if your work isn’t good enough and get more clinical training. You might wonder if your logo is too outdated and get new business cards.

You’re trying, but you’re hunting around in the dark, trying to figure out. (This is where the “ignorance” part comes in.) You could try networking more, paying for an ad, but nothing seems to work. However, an outsider could walk in and size up the situation in just a few minutes: “I think having your clients meet you at a McDonald’s could be your problem.”

Being up against this brick wall is a great sign you’re stuck. Marianne Williamson talks about how our best thinking got us to the point we’re at right now, but our best thinking can’t take us beyond that point. For that we need to shift our thinking.

If you’re wondering whether you might be up against an area of critical ignorance, check out this tip sheet. I’ve included a list of the common signs that may signal this:

Click Here to Download the Areas of Critical Ignorance Checklist

Here are some “areas of critical ignorance” I’ve had to overcome in my own business:

  • Not hiring staff soon enough. In hindsight, this is probably one of the most expensive lessons I’ve learned. For the longest time I would say, “But I can’t afford to hire anyone.” Boy was I DEAD WRONG.All I could see was the money I had to pay out each week. I couldn’t see the immense benefit that would come from it. Hiring an assistant allowed me to focus on what I do best and spend more time with my clients. The time to hire someone is before you can afford it, and then you’ll be amazed at how quickly your business will grow.
  • Not investing in myself early in my practice. This one is a little ridiculous in hindsight, but I’m sharing it even though it’s embarrassing because I think some of you can relate. See when I first started in private practice, I had great clinical training under my belt. I couldn’t wait to share this with clients.And somehow, I thought that was going to be enough. I didn’t realize that clinical skills only account for about half the success of a private practice. I struggled for a few years because I felt that I had already invested a LOT of money in myself and I was reluctant to invest more. It wasn’t until I got so frustrated with barely getting by that I invested in business, marketing and practice-building skills. That’s when things really began to turn around for me.
  • Accepting insurance rather than build a private pay practice. This one was a doozy for me. In fact, it almost put my out of business all together. Does this sound familiar? I started out as a private pay practice but wasn’t getting any clients. At the time I didn’t realize I had a marketing problem. Instead, I thought it was because my fees were too high. So I started accepting insurance, and that was an eye-opener! Not only was I now making an average of $47 per hour, I wasn’t seeing the clients I really wanted to work with. I was taking anyone who came through the door because I had to see a lot of clients in order to make the numbers work.

What’s the one commonality of all three of these situations? They only changed when someone I respected pointed it out to me. Now, maybe at some point I could’ve figured it out on my own, but I’m not sure.

It’s only now, years after the fact, that I can see how my ignorance in these three areas had a profound effect on my business and my personal life. If you’re feeling stuck with something in your practice, chances are you’re up against one of your own areas of critical ignorance.

Challenges in private practice aren’t usually from lack of effort. They aren’t from a lack of desire. Because most of you are eager to fix the problems you know you have. But how do you fix the problem you don’t know that you have? A good place to start is to take a look at the checklist I’ve put together for you, and then talk with someone who is successful in business to get their take on it.

Click Here to Download the Areas of Critical Ignorance Checklist