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Passion, People and Principles

Making A Difference

post # 282 — January 14, 2007 — a General post

As an author, or as a speaker, you never know the influence you may or may not have had. Here are two emails I received this week which are immensely gratifying.

“You spoke at my (large) law firm retreat some time ago. I won’t embarrass anyone by saying which one, where or when. I thought you would be interested in the result. As you predicted, most of the firm was supportive of what you said but both unwilling to truly commit the firm and unwilling to proceed without the few financially powerful partners who were against the ideas. So things muddled along pretty much as before. I realized it was not going to happen so if it was important to me, I had some hard choices to make. I made them and left after a long partnership to form a small firm of like-minded people. I can’t understate the value of the change in my life. I have gone from someone playing out his career without enthusiasm or enjoyment (and being very well-paid to do it), to actually caring about what I do, who I do it with and who I do it for. “I know that you are in business to make a living and when you talk to firms the goal is to help the firm do better. But I wanted you to know that you are as well talking to each person that listens to you. And in my case anyway, what you said had a profound impact. So thank you very much. Bob”

That was the first one. The second was from Russia:

“Dear M-r Maister! Great interest, intellectual amusement and deep YESSS! – that’s what I’ve felt reading the Russian translation of your The Trusted Advisor”. (Written with Charles Green and Robert Galford.) 15 years of psychotherapy and psychological consulting – dysfunctional families, drug addicts, co-dependency – have lead me to the very similar proposals; but you and your colleagues formulate it (and help me to formulate my own experience) with the elegance of gathered Rubik’s cube. You see – psychological consulting have some specific nature: client’s business there is just his personal, very and only personal area. But the question of trust, the stages and technology” of it’s establishing, danger of methodical occupation” instead of personality-oriented approach and many other aspects, underlined in your remarkable book, are quite the same (and even more important) as in other areas of consulting.

Thank you for your deep and consistent humanism. Adler can have some rest (as Russians say) – his ideas of contradiction between the neurotic behavior and cooperation finds in your book very practical actualization. What a joy for me was to see, that the main principle of my practice – each problem of client is the challenge, opportunity for personality (not onlyprofessional!) growth of advisor, and if the last miss this opportunity and doesn’t grow – he can’t help the client – is one of the main points of your book; it is not formulated, but each line affirms that!

Once again thank you; I wish you, your friends and your families more successes, joyful opportunities, new horizons and grateful readers!

Konstantin Levitskij, Russia.

P.S. I sincerely hope, that the remarks about my professional experience is not the trespass of demonstrating competence; that pointed parallels doesn’t look like as inadequate self-orientation; that underlined principle is not a demonstration of value-intervention”; and that the whole letter is not the trespass of compliments. And sorry for my, may be,terrible English!”

Wow! I’m going to keep those two in my folder for “down days” when it all feels like too much of an uphill struggle. It’s nice to know there are such honorable people out there, willing to continue the struggle to do what’s meaningful and not just what’s pragmatic.


Heidi Ehlers said:

My folder is called, “Feel Good”. Congratulations!

– heidi

posted on January 14, 2007

Ian Welsh said:

Grats David. And well deserved, I suspect. I call it “screaming into the wind”. Sometimes the wind brings back another’s voice and you realize you’ve touched someone else’s life – that it’s mattered.

posted on January 14, 2007

Charlie (Green) said:

Well deserved, David, and assuredly just the tip of the iceberg.

posted on January 14, 2007

James Bullock said:

I call my folder “kudos.” Along with helping me remember the good stuff, it’s useful for noting what worked, and what didn’t work so much.

“Shouting into the wind.” without being heard is only distressing if you expect a single presentation of simply a great insight, to change minds and behavior. People are more complicated than that. This disease – of thinking that the great insight will take, instantly, if only it is presented clearly – is epidemic among software types. Why wouldn’t it be. When you write software, you have the insight and express it with clarity, and you are done. The computer is compelled to perform as imagined. People aren’t like that.

posted on January 14, 2007

peter vajda said:

The energy I feel from your words, in this and others of your posts, David, and the words of those who are touched by you are “passion and commitment”…the sense that you do what you do with passion and commitment and the surrender that others may or may not “get it” and if they do, they will get in it their own way and in their own time. What I sense is humility and a lack of “ego.” Thanks for sharing this feedback.

posted on January 14, 2007

Charles H. Green said:

I’m very intrigued by James Bullock’s comment. At least software developers have some objective reason to expect immediate action from clear problem definition; as you point out, they get positive reinforcement by writing clean and precise code. The rest of us have little excuse for believing such things happen, as they rarely do. Humans, silly things that we are, rarely go straight from data via logic to deduced result. It just don’t work that way.

Except on occasions such as David’s two examples. They are gratifying indeed, in part for their rarity. It takes an exceptionally open person to hear something so clearly. Although, they may also be examples of the particular straw that broke through the cluttered camel’s back (pardon the mixed metaphor), as in , when the pupil is ready, the Maister appears? (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

More from James on the subject?

posted on January 14, 2007

Ian Welsh said:


actually I think it takes a lot of repititon to get through to most people. There are some who “get it” right away, but most need to hear it multiple times before the “ahah” moment hits – and I say this not just for other people, but for myself. It’s also partly because of the noise factor – what you’re saying to someone is part of what many people are saying, and you rarely have their undivided attention. So again, repition is necessary (by which I don’t mean mechanical repitition, I mean apply the principles or the mindset you’re trying to teach to different situations, by way of example.)

posted on January 14, 2007