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Even a half-assed consultant can see far more choices than even their most insightful client ever could because they’re not climbing the spiral staircase, but watching their client climb. Their perspective mostly goes to waste, however, and could not possibly help their client see. Long consulting engagements often start with the so-called consultant trying to persuade their hapless client to see what they could never see from where they stand. Should the client say they can see what their ... ahem ... consultant just directed them to imagine, the half-assed consultant might feel a burst of validation without realizing that they just hobbled rather than helped.

I’ve long espoused the conviction that change arises from choice. I don’t always understand the more subtle point that choices seem scarcest whenever someone’s stuck, and I can (really, I CAN) proliferate choices forever for anyone else, but to no useful end. Until the client sees a choice, he cannot make a choice, and who knows where the insight necessary to see alternatives comes from? I don’t, though I used to believe that I did. I didn’t.

Maybe we each move in our own little trance, able to see what that trance allows and equally unable to see whatever it does not. My own greatest personal insights came with no flash and thunder for anyone close to me. They’d seen me teetering on the ledge of realization for some time, and were only wondering when I’d notice. This makes me neither extraordinary nor stupid, but normal. The Muse knows (usually) to be patient and gentle with me; she could of course tell me better than I currently see, but her insights, her advice, couldn’t be much use to me.

BriefConsulting relies upon this light hand. Pushes and shoves, even nudges, subtly coerce. People gotta make up their own minds, stumble upon their own insights, and create whatever choices they eventually make. The BriefConsultant might be there to reassure: to hold the conviction that their client isn’t stupid, but stuck; not in need of advice, but perhaps permission; not clueless, but no more or less blind than the rest of us on this twisty staircase.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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