Monday, February 08, 2010

Real Help in a Time of Fear and Change

I was reading Seth Godin's blog today. He's a very successful entrepreneur, a multiple time bestselling author and a very interesting blog writer who considers himself an agent for change. He focuses a lot on riding the crests of the waves in this very fast-moving time. He has an article today entitled "Frightened, Clueless or Uninformed?"

In this article he talks about the importance of knowing whether the person you're trying to engage with is currently in one of these positions. I tend to refrain from using the purposely inflammatory terminology Seth Grodin chooses to get people to pay more attention to the points he wants to make but in this blog I'm going to work with his words.

"Uninformed people" tend to be the ones Paul and I work with most. They seek us out because they know they need help with something or need to know more about something we know well. A part of almost every session we do involves teaching. They state their problem, we dive in, and away we go!

What Seth Godin is calling "clueless" people are the ones who don't know what they don't know yet. If you're an entrepreneur they might not understand that what you have to offer is of any benefit unless you work at helping them understand ahead of time. For example, the vast majority of people I know might be considered clueless about Flower Essence Therapy. If they hear of it at all they're most likely to think I mean "aromatherapy" which is not at all the same thing. If I'm to reach this vast market of potential buyers I first will have to come up with interesting ways to help them understand what flower essences are and how my products can make them easy to use.

Frightened people are the ones who are afraid of what you have to offer. They're afraid of things they don't understand. They don't want to learn something new. They don't want anything but the status quo and they're terrified if that status quo starts to crumble beneath them. Frightened people can be all of us at certain periods of time. Sorry, when an earthquake hits or a tsunami comes thundering down there are a lot more people running and trying to get away than there are those who figure this is the perfect time to learn to surf. If you try to engage with these people as if they're just uninformed about the wonderful great big fun opportunities coming their way they'll probably want to hit you in the face!

Frightened people are looking for salvation, a lifeline, a way to survive. But if that way includes embracing the change they're so afraid is going to swallow them whole you better be prepared for them to put up quite a fight!

A political process based on fear is one where the most frightened ones can be the most easily exploited. A charismatic preacher who says just hold onto Jesus can become a multimillionaire overnight. A charismatic politician who says he will resist those changes you're so afraid of just says no! no! no! and thinks that will make him a hero overnight.

But when the time for change is already upon us saying no to the tsunami just ensures that a great many people ARE going to be hurt. The most thoughtful leaders would be giving people a hand out of their difficulties so we can all respond from a place of more security. They'd be holding out real lifelines and, if the tsunami is still days away, they'd make their very highest priorities calming the population down and helping them prepare and even prosper in the days to come.

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