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Understanding Entitlement

Human behaviorist Dr John Demartini explains the idea of entitlement and the benefits of breaking through any unrealistic economic expectations and becoming truly empowered financially.


Some people who work for others assume that simply having a job will bring them the feeling of financial security. But in fact, the only thing that will bring them the feeling of security is for them to be truly productive at their work; that is, to continuously produce more than they cost.


Many people feel childishly entitled without actually understanding what entitlement really means. So in the context of your work, it’s important to understand what it costs the company you work for to have you work and that you have to produce more than this cost for you to have some semblance of security.


It’s important to itemize every large or small cost you cause for your company. Most employees assume that their only cost to their company is their salary and nothing more. So what are the true actual total costs of being employed?


You need to take at least the following into account:


• Annual and monthly salary or hourly wage costs

• Annual and monthly or annual bonus costs

• Annual holiday and sick day costs

• Annual holiday party costs

• Annual parking costs

• Annual insurance (liability, health, disability, injury) costs

• Annual percentage of office space and maintenance costs

• Annual equipment and furniture depreciation or rental costs

• Annual supply costs

• Annual telephone and technology costs

• Annual training (transportation, hotel, food manuals…) costs

• Annual error or irritated customer costs

• Annual unproductive time costs

• Annual average expected profits.



Once you have ascertained your portion of your company’s true total operating costs, you will be more likely to be productive as you will be more aware of what the company requires to employ you.


It will also provide you with a true reflection of your job and financial security. As long as you produce more than your total costs and add sufficient profits to your company, you will have a higher probably of job security and what you are truly entitled to financially.


Once you know what your true costs are as an employee, it’s next wise to find out what the general profit margin of the company is in order to add that percentage on top of your true total costs. For example, let’s say that for every million rand your company produces, the net profit is 300,000, which is a 30% profit margin.


To know what the average employee produces for the company, add another 30% on top of whatever their costs are. When you know all the costs, you will get more grounded in reality about what you have to produce to make sure you have job security.


As long as you produce more than you cost, and add additional average profits on top you will have some degree of security. You’re only entitled to your actual portion of productivity and contribution.


If you exaggerate that amount, and that entitlement, you will set yourself up for unrealistic expectations, anger and let down. So if you want job and financial security, produce way more than you cost. No manager of a company is likely to get rid of you if you do this, unless of course there are other social or personal reasons or issues.


Now, when you’re at home, the same principle applies.


Perhaps your child doesn’t know what their real costs to the family are, and the child sometimes has a feeling of entitlement that he or she deserves something, but if they actually knew what the real cost of being in the family was, they would be more likely to be realistic about their expectations from the family, and more likely to contribute fairly to their own security within the family.


The other day my son told me he desired a particular $40,000 car. Now, he didn’t completely comprehend that in order to pay for a $40,000 car, the family company he worked for would have to produce an additional $146,000 with a 40% profit margin minus 44% in tax. That’s right; the family company would need to make an additional $146,000 to be able to provide him with a $40,000 dollar car immediately or over time. 


Now, once my son comprehends the real costs are of being in his apartment, paying his rent, his clothing, his schooling, his car, his gas, his utilities… he becomes even more reasonable with his expectations.


It’s important that these costs are itemized to give him a more grounded reality of what he can expect as far as responsibilities and expectations. As long as he’s producing and contributing something to the family and to the company that achieves this figure, then he has earned the right to own this car and is entitled to receive what he loves. Otherwise he can become over-entitled and live with an unrealistic expectation or fantasy.



Learning what true costs exist calms down unrealistic entitlements.


Let me give you a third example, relating to citizens within a particular governed society. If they don’t know what it truly costs their government for each of them to live within the society; the cost for their portion of the use of roads, utilities, governance, water, parks, health care, education…. then they can have a completely unrealistic financial expectations upon the leaders of their government.


Also, having transparency on the real cost helps citizens set realistic expectations, and tends to make them more appreciative and productive. They then contribute more so that they can earn and receive what they fairly deserve.


So that’s the basis of entitlement. I saw it firsthand recently during a Pikitup strike (a Refuse Collection Company) in South Africa. It probably cost a small fortune for the police to have to be there, to protect the strikers from injuring citizens or damaging public or private property.


It also partly robbed the police of their ability to properly police in other normally patrolled areas where it was also necessary. If the strikers knew what the real costs were, they would probably be less likely to have unrealistic expectations and negotiate reasonably with more transparent facts. Of course, if the leaders of Pikitup become transparent and educate their workers as to their true individual costs, it would help calm down unrealistic expectations and contribute to future sustainable resolutions.


If citizens grow up in a society where they don’t ground themselves with realistic expectations they can become over entitled. Making citizens become grounded by having them know the actual costs helps calm down their over entitlement and helps them become more empowered. It is sustainable fair exchange that allows societies to continue to flourish.


Dr. John Demartini is a human behaviour specialist, educator, author and the founder of the Demartini Institute.  

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