Mark: Can you describe what makes you unique and distinct from other consultants or executive coaches.
RCW: Well, first of all, I believe in the regenerative and developing brain. Eric Kandel, a Nobel Prize winner for his work in neuroscience on memory, observed that the neurons seek something familiar and grow new synapses to connect. I also believe in T.S. Elliot the poet who said, “Only connect.” I work with connection instead of problem solving.
A lot of consultants focus on problems and provide answers. This is their job, to solve problems or come up with answers. But nobody really has all the answers. Every situation is unique. I’ve read a lot of books on how to make your business succeed. But in the end, I believe that the person who is in the situation is the one most informed about the situation. So I find a way to get them to talk about it. And they start coming up with new information that they didn’t even know they had.
Executive coaches use a lot of different methods, so I can’t really generalize. But what makes me unique is that I have organizational knowledge about how people work well and what motivates them. I also believe that everyone is looking for someway to make sense of the world. And the only way to get to that is to find out what is making sense to them now, or what and when was the last time something made sense. And then I draw connections between that way of making sense and bring it into the present moment. Experts know what they know, but that knowledge has to apply to the situation. There is no one answer.
MS: So what is your approach?
RCW: I energize the brain. I make observations. I ask questions. I rephrase and encourage reflection. All of these activities massage the brain and stimulate the neurons to look up and look around. Then, if you allow the brain to proceed, with proper support and tranquility, the neurons will grow new synaptic connections and energize the entire person. I see it in their eyes. A radiance comes over the entire face. The “aha” moment is far beyond intellectual. The neurons find something they recognize and link up. It is a miracle. We were born to think like this, but it happens in the context of peace and awareness. It happens in the space of a kind of friendship of trust.
MS: What about goals?
RCW: I think goals are good. You need a mental model in place to hold things together while you find out what it is you are really meant to be doing. Sometimes it can be good to say, “I’d like to be more like that person.” But would it? I find that when you know yourself, you don’t really need those mental models anymore. Those models are like training wheels. Once you know who you are, you take off the training wheels and just go. No one can stop you because you are having so much fun being yourself. The goals become a means of being yourself.
MS: So the goals become secondary?
RCW: Absolutely. But once you are experiencing all this energy that comes from being authentic, you need something productive to do. So, in a way, you just start eating up goals and producing a lot. In a way, you can turn out to be an overachiever. Reaching far beyond any goals you ever dreamed of.
Mark Solomon is an Emmy-nominated television writer/producer.