One of the exercises I frequently used to begin an engagement with is to request each new client to write a short essay answering – “what does he or she want to be known for?“.
In the case of a corporate client, I request that a process be established that produces a Character Statement that describes most of the same elements as in the case of the individual. The question as two distant parts – Who is this ‘I’ in the world; and, ‘what are the acts the “community” (an identified segment of people or institutions that hold a distinctive place for you or your organization) members in that world should notice about that ‘I’?
As any coach, worth the title, I must demonstrate a mastery of the work that I require – as an article of faith to the value of my work – thus here I posit the frame from which the question – to be known, arises.
It is obvious that my existentialist is showing.
In the intellectual stream of existentialists thought ‘I’ holds a spot of importance not because it illuminates with great accuracy, but because it posses rich questions to those who would dare to take on the question. For instance, Martin Buber approaches the question of individuality by asking: what does it mean when someone uses the word ‘I’, or its equivalent?
After all, to be an individual person involves being able to speak for yourself in the first person: every language offers that possibility, in its own grammar. Even in the world of avatars and profiles there is the assumption that behind all the masks someone stands speaking to the world.
So for those who would make such utterances, the first person is a home holds our core stand – we each must honor (a promise we make to ourselves). But Buber then ask us to look again at that first person, that ‘I’. He suggests that ‘I’ has two fundamentally different ways of being used: there are two distinct first persons. By this, he does not mean there are two grammatical rules or dictionary meanings.
He means that people are doing one of two things when they take up their temporary home in the first person and say ‘I’ to the world, to the others – in community or not. Yes, there are times when shifting from one to the other is necessary – but we are looking at general out looks not individual cases.
The question – am I using either the word ‘I-Thou’ or the word ‘I-It’?
According to Buber, ‘I-Thou’ and ‘I-It’ are the primary words’ in our lives. If your ‘I’ is an ‘I-Thou’, you are being yourself in the face of an equivalent person or presence – in community. If, on the other hand, your ‘I’ is an ‘I-It’, you are being yourself in a world which has no equivalent presence to your own, a world of objects not persons – others – not in community.
So ‘I-Thou’ expects a reply, it is the ‘I’ of dialogue and responsiveness.
You can give your view in a disagreement by saying ‘I think you are wrong’ in such a way as to recognize that the other will have his own response. You don’t mean to imply doubt, but you do mean to allow the other to be present, to participate. In the virtual world this is like permitting comments.
Or, you can say ‘I think he is wrong’, and make the other into a mere object of your commentary, an object which, if it speaks again, will merely be observed and judged like other objects – noise – spam – or disallowed comment.
In either case the only way to judge which ‘I’ is the current stand is in the context of the engagement.
- So the first element for which I will be known is to stand for tactics of transparency from which ‘I’ is speaking: authentically.
This raises two issues,
- the first relates to the general context of the reality assumed for this ‘I’ to exist as internal voice
- the second is what is meant to be engaged with this ‘I’.
- The bare description of the world for this ‘I’ is that it conspires with other ‘I’s, and not ‘I’s to create reality: a maker of reality – not a seeker.
Simply, we in community confront and engage objects in our meaning making efforts to organize and describe our lives.
In this age, we have come to recognize that everything is made up of buzzing atoms or as patterns of energy or as chemical formulae that have no consciousness of human feeling or intent. But, for to us, these added facts do not undermine the status of the ‘I’ we see: we make ourselves, not alone – we do not find ourselves complete and encased.
The ‘I’ in this case is an expression more about the continuing exercise of overlapping choice in the face of either a world that neither knows nor for that matter cares about our existence.
The status of the ‘I’ is jointly held in social status and authenticity: reputation and honor.
To experience the reality of ‘I’ is through recognizing that experience of not ‘I’: somewhere between here and there the ‘me’ has ended and other realities come into play. This is where the context and engagement of community enter the picture. You are known by what others say you are and how you hold yourself to be!
In community – the co-joining of realities into a language game of pre-established and continually changing rules opens up. It is not so much that there are formal hand books of required language for each community. As it turns out – even when there are such books they are of varied or limited usefulness. What actually performs the heavy lifting is the cultural affiliations – those self selected spaces by each ‘I’.
You learn texting not by reading the books on it, but in the usage with friends that respond to your utterances or not. In this sense you know the game in the playing.
Not only do you learn the game in the playing – you learn the status of the players in the playing. The notion that reputation defines a hierarchy of influence that the community spreads in or against the reality of the ‘I’s ability to be heard in playing is a key.
My skills, knowledge and abilities are focused on providing strategic and tactical acts to increase the reputation of my clients and myself.
Thus far what I have explained has specifically defined my role as coach (not as a human, man or father) both from the individual and organizational framework. What I have provided is a definition of my views and my ontological positioning of the world I suggest each client arrives with in seeking my advice and consul.
In summary they believe that they want to speak from the stand point of an authentic ‘I’ to be heard by use of an authentic voice both within a specific community and non communities for the purpose of co-creating a reality to their liking. They also believe that this is done through the use of social media tools that engage in language games that they wish to master by engaging selected communities and speaking up.