Thursday, June 16, 2005


When counseling clients, I sometimes get an eerie feeling that nothing I am telling them is new or different. They have already thought of everything I am going to say. That experience happened to me recently, and it was humbling. I was with a brilliant client, and we were discussing communications strategy with large implications for the future of his business. I gave him an analysis off the top of my head, then realized I was repeating what he had known for some time. At the end, I said, "You know all this anyway." He agreed.

I get another strange feeling when this happens that the client is invisibly guiding me to where the client wants to be. I am being manipulated. I don't like that, but I have to admire anyone who can do it and make your thoughts look like his. It is then I begin to wonder what I am there for. If the client knows where to go, it is a matter of execution, not of discussion.

In years of counseling, I have learned one truth, which others have confirmed time and again. In any organization, no matter how dysfunctional, there is someone who knows the answer to the organization's challenge. The problem is the person can never get a hearing except through a consultant.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother counseling, but then, there are times when I do make a difference, even though I never really know when those times occur.


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