Seth Godin is one of my favourite authors.
He is an American business writer, but don’t let that title put you off. He is a fascinating and persuasive combination of marketer, philosopher and humanitarian.
In his latest book The Icarus Deception he writes about how culture conspires with our innate programming to stop us from reaching our full potential.
As part of his argument about the value of human (and humane) interactions he makes the point that when you make a human connection with someone: a friend, partner, child, customer, pupil, client and so on, that person will be changed by the interaction and so will you.
So far so good.
Then he quoted another business writer Michael Schrage who asks a question that gets to the heart of my work as a therapist and trainer.
“Who do you want your customer to become after they interact with you?”.
I substituted the word client or trainee for customer.
I was intrigued by this question and here is my first attempt at an answer:
“Who do I want my clients / trainees to become after they interact with me?”
I want them to become:
- more accurately aware of what is going on in their inner world and their outer world. For most of us our perception of what is going on in these worlds is hugely conditioned by our experience and upbringing. Undoing these distortions in our perception is an essential step to acting appropriately to the ‘real’ world and it’s demands.
- calmer, more centred and resourceful. Feeling more in charge of your own experience is a much more useful place to start from than anxious, scattered and helpless.
- better able to think, feel and act more freely. If they are less scared of their inner world and less driven by their history then they will have the power to do things differently.
- more accepting of themselves and their humanity. In Brene Brown’s evocative phrase they will be further along the road from “What will they think?” to “I am enough”.
- kinder to themselves. If trauma and self-criticism rule the roost, if you have been punished, or punish yourself then being kind to yourself is no small accomplishment.
If you want those results and I can deliver on them, then we would probably be a good match of client / therapist or trainee / trainer.
On the other hand, if you don’t want those kind of results then we are probably going to be a very bad match.
Will everyone I work with have these results?
Everyone? No, of course not.
I may want these things for the people I work with, but wanting something and getting it are two very different things.
Some of these changes take time and effort from all the people involved. It has certainly taken me time and effort to achieve some of these changes in my life.
I do know that with the right effort it is possible to make these changes and to become that which you want to become.
OK, that’s enough about me and what I hope to bring to the people I work with.
What about you and the people you interact with?
After you interact with the important people in your life:
“Who do you want them to become?”
And if that wasn’t enough to think about, here is a follow up question that wasn’t in Seth’s book.
“If they are to become whatever it is after your interaction, who must you be to help them with that becoming?”