By Bradford F. Spencer, Ph.D. (Fall 1991)
I draw a blank. Usually, penning brief articles is simple. I wonder why it has taken me so long to even select a topic. Do I have a topic selected yet? Why is it so important to me that this be good, that people reading it feel that they gained value?
Why am I so uncertain this newsletter will be worth people’s reading … will cause them to look forward to the next edition … will be viewed as more than just an announcement of coming workshops … thrown in the trash as another thinly veiled attempt at sales?
When I shared this writer’s block with a client recently, he laughed and said, “If I had said that Brad, you would accuse my ‘Be Perfect’ driver of getting in the way.” Why didn’t I like hearing that? It’s true! It makes me wonder if the reason I am on this side of the helping relationship is because I am better at giving input than getting it. Somehow I hope not, but there’s enough smoke to indicate a fire is somewhere near.
It feels somewhat scary starting a newsletter. I know a business consultant worth hiring is never scared. The closest I can come to expressing the reason why is that it is a public expression for all to see. A reflection of our thoughts and what we feel will help others.
There is some chance that this will be unsolicited and dismissed out of hand, while there is an equal chance some will see it as provincial and laugh (perhaps my deepest fear) and some chance that individuals, while reading it, will identify with it, find the content and expression useful and freeing. Above all, I hope it is authentic.
If we have a responsibility to our clients, it is to model authentic and straightforward organizational behavior. This is the behavior that forms the basis for building the organizations that will be the backbone of a prosperous society. These organizations, by being authentic, will thus be human. In their humanity, they will be characterized by joy and laughter, as well as pathos and sadness. By conflict and anger, as well as forgiveness and loving. Our role is not to anesthetize humanity, but to integrate it in such a fashion that humor is magnified, with the result being that work itself provides the satisfaction that makes being human a rewarding thing.
Quite frankly, the task seems overwhelming, particularly in a newsletter.
So, I guess if I’m really to be authentic, my doubt in my skills and abilities is the place to start. (And, of course, business consulting worth hiring would not suffer from the malady of doubt.)
Breathe easy, I expect most of the subsequent articles will not be as reflective. You need not be concerned about being bored by a consultant rambling about inner thoughts. So it is with a sense of doubt, not in the vision of what we would like to accomplish, but the fear of our ability to successfully do so, that we launch this newsletter and only take refuge in the eighteenth-century comment of Voltaire, “Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”
To be continued … I think?