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“At some point during this engagement, you’ll very likely feel overwhelmingly justified concluding that you’ve contracted with the most inept consultant in the universe,” The BriefConsultant cautions his prospective client. “What we do then will determine the success of this effort.”

There, I’ve done it again. I’ve tried to chase off another client. Some won’t be so easily dissuaded, but others will. You see, I’ve deliberately committed a taboo, and one of the more powerful ones, too. Ineptitude, or, more properly stated, the appearance of ineptitude, might outrank malfeasance on the Must Be Avoided List. A stumble quite easily amplifies far beyond mere accident to tarnish even the most otherwise innocent reputation. Generosity doesn’t seem very high on anyone’s to-do list.

Sociologists speculate that the White Collar worker receives insufficient cues to properly imagine where they stand in the hierarchy, so they cloak instead, projecting industriousness and flawless performance, giving criticism much more generously than they ever accept it. Addled by continuous improvement injunctions and zero defect delusions, any stumble might well be interpreted as a fall. Appearances might count more than performance and productivity, neither of which can be reasonably measured, anyway.

So, a prospective consultant confidently predicting the eminent emergence of his own ineptitude kinda crosses the expected comportment line. I am not offering an ordeal, either, simply stating what my half-vast experience has taught me so far: I mess up sometimes. Note how the idea of disclosing such potentially personally discrediting information isn’t yet standard practice anywhere but in BriefConsulting. We are supposed to suit up and feign invulnerability, not highlight our own weakest link. If they knew the awful truth about just how skilled I’m sometimes not, why oh why would they ever consider hiring me? Some of my engagements are so brief they clock negative elapsed time.

The modern workplace seems most effective in producing dis-embodied workers, ones so in-rolled that they’ve lost addressability to some rather useful edges of their own experience. Feelings often go second, just after squelching their overt counterpart: emotions. A cold heartedness intrudes, seasoned by surviving a layoff or three and almost guaranteed by the two that weren’t survived. A crude social Darwinism seems to rule, not survival of the fittest but survival of the flittest, where people look busy at almost any cost. Most really are doing two or three jobs, busy practicing the meanest possible form of lean production.

Even The BriefConsultant can get sucked into that kooky tornado, so I take particular care when entering. I’m no more human or superhuman than anybody, just like everyone else, but taking a moment to make my humanity explicit, I set myself a little bit apart from the madding throng. This small act might make me appear unafraid of the criticism or rejection that might result from such a disclosure, but I’m terrified. Still, I’d rather engage without fearing the inevitable. I bait that bear instead.

It seems paradoxical to me that improved quality of experience seems to come from more fully embracing what might be characterized as my dark side. Rather than strive for some Utopian perfection or an even more dramatic, emphatic, hampster-wheel improvement in the never-ending frantic search for an even more continuous improvement, I say I’m gonna stumble; I predict my own ineptitude. When (not IF) I stumble, a portal will open before us which, if we both stay in role and frantic, we will simply ignore or find there some premise to disqualify our intentions for and our contributions to this engagement. I could never honestly promise a sure thing, and won’t now; now I can’t promise perfection and engage as a BriefConsultant.

This dance conditions both my client and I for something meaningful to occur. Should I engage with any standard automaton, nothing terribly human’s likely to result. Engaging as people might work, certainly better than playing rolls might, so I take off my deflecting armor, take a step back and down off whatever pedestal I was supposed to stand atop, and proceed from there. This is a small generous act intended to encourage this entanglement to be safe for mere humans to engage with. Only mere humans seem capable of producing something delightful, so we might be well-advised to set aside our perfectly performing production personas and remember to bring our humanity into this work.

”At some point during this engagement, you’ll very likely feel overwhelmingly justified concluding that you’ve contracted with the most inept consultant in the universe.”

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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