ChangingStory1.15-ShThFuUp

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My inbox overfloweth. So doth mine Facebook stream, Twitter feed, LinkedIn thread, Google+ queue, Pheed feed, newspaper, and neighborhood listserv. They swell with advice, people telling other people what to do, what the sender sincerely believes others should do/ think/ feel/ believe/ support. On rare occasions, someone will broadcast some personal insight, something they’ve personally decided to do without anyone else exhorting them. These bring sweet respite to the fetid wind that seems to otherwise blow nobody any real good.

I’ve been looking for any concrete evidence that telling anyone what they really should otta do in any way results in them following these instructions. I’m concluding that these exhortations might be for the sole purpose of feeding the exhorter and nobody else. Like the street corner screaming preacher, nobody pretending to be invisible as they slink by ever finds Jesus on their way past, though the preacher sure seems to. Perhaps the very form of the injunction shuts down the ability to follow the advice, or, I think more likely, telling just does not work.

’Here’s what I think Republicans should do’ should be put out to pasture for all the good it’s done, which is none. Worse, it seems to encourage the buggers to behave ever more perversely. They’re like snipers watching for a careless smoker in the dark. Telling them what to do just locates you and energizes them, producing pretty much just what this advocate never wanted.

Doesn’t matter how emphatically anyone tells any smoker to stop, they’ll continue. Curiously, when the government first started running public service advertisements encouraging people to quit, the smoking rate increased. Can’t tell nobody nuthin’.

We waste breath, newsprint, and bandwidth repeating what we’ve never seen work. We have not been granted the superpower to change others by telling them to change. Knowing better ain’t communicable. Superior knowledge apparently deludes. My insight serves as your unwanted disruptor. Your insight lights your flame while drowning my campfire.

How, then, might I influence you if not by telling you what you should do? I might tell my own story. This might inspire. I might share a parable or fable because I found motive meaning there. So might another, though not even a limited use warrantee comes with this act. It might work, though it also might not.

I might reasonably, eventually wonder who died and made me God. What possible business did I think I had determining what another should do, anyway. Aren’t they sentient beings? Don’t they get to make their own choices? Couldn’t I invite choices without insisting upon them? Couldn’t I highlight alternatives without holding my thumb on the scale?

I get directive when I’m scared. When I’m feeling exposed, I’ll try to attract some company in what might be the very least attractive way. When threatened, I’ll throw verbal rotten tomatoes, hoping, I guess, to scare them off as much as they are scaring me. I steal their humanity to preserve my own. I elect myself judge, jury, and wise therapist with jurisdiction over no one but myself, them start throwing my minuscule weight around to little effect.

Last week, it was an invitation to participate in a conversation facilitated by someone who, thanks to a career studying with some the great exhorters of our time, would tell us what organizations need to do to survive these turbulent times. Organizations don’t have ears, so I supposed I was being invited to hear this stuff. What would I do with that? I figured I might feel superior for a spell, the holder of special knowledge, before seeing that this currency could not be exchanged to change anything or anybody. A momentary millionaire in my own mind.

The Brief Consultant refuses to tell his clients what to do, and not simply because he hasn’t the first clue what they should do, but because he’s never seen such telling make a lick of difference. That’s not how people change. People don’t change others, though everyone’s perfectly capable of changing them self if they want to.

Sure, anyone can engage like an advertiser attempting to entice another into some action, and even sometimes succeed, or seem to, but what’s changed there? With some practice, repeated choice might integrate that encouraged shift into meaningful habit; into their change. Until then, it might be better characterized as chains, a cognitive border fence temporarily preventing preference. One cannot create a sensitive palate by feeding anyone fine food. Indeed, The Muse’s insistence that her homemade head cheese might permanently recalibrate anyone’s notion of yummy chased away more would-be gourmets than it attracted, even though what she insisted was undoubtedly true. She couldn’t give transcendent sublimity away. Neither can you. Neither can I.

The Brief Consultant tells his small stories, almost indifferent to the influence they might have. His indifference was not produced by cynicism, but rather by simple experience. He sincerely tried to influence outcomes, to drive change, to derive magic incantations with little more than a temporarily inflated ego to show for his efforts. He noticed, almost by accident or maybe synchronicity, that stuff seemed to just work better when he shut up with the exhortations and simply told his stories, sang his songs, or sat down to speak with rather than at his clients.

When one knows best, nobody really does. When nobody knows, two might discover better. If two can discover better, everyone might. Nobody can tell nobody nuthin’. ShThFuUp!

©2015 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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