When I was very young I would wake up in the middle of the night from a particular dream that I could not escape. It would begin innocently enough with the arrival of a soft drumbeat. The drumming would grow louder and louder until I found myself in a forest standing at a distance behind an odd looking old man sitting on a rock by a river. He would be sitting peacefully in a lotus position crowned in an incredible headdress filled with colors of fire and light. The drumming would continue to get louder until the pinnacle moment of the dream when he would turn his head to face me. He had a look about him of hope and knowing but at my young age I couldn’t bear it any longer. I would awaken in a panic, sweat rolling down my cheeks, and my heart racing.
This old man stayed in my dreams for years and years. He became such a presence that I found myself writing to him and even attempting to paint the old man to give him life. When I see all the interesting work people are doing in my community and beyond, I am reminded of the wise old man sitting by the river with promises of possibility. He reminds me of the importance of finding your own inner wisdom and connecting with others at a level that is personal and powerful.
This self-reflective process is serious business for my career in the mental health field because it begins with being able to organize my work around something I believe in. And interestingly enough, this “turning inward” becomes the foundation for building a rich and rewarding career. It gives you the ability to speak with a genuine voice and to find those people who want and need to hear your message.
We are in the beginning stages of a new way of doing business and Doc Searls of “The Cluetrain Manifesto” explains the implications of that change beautifully.
“…More and more power is in the hands of the consumer. We have the ability to ask for the things we want. This is the promise of the intention economy, where people tell the market what they want and barriers are disintegrated so the market has the ability to listen. Soon…the attention economy will crash…the PR teams, the measured promotion campaigns, the direct marketing efforts…Be that listening ear and create the kind of relationship that is truly special for a select group of people. Not everyone, but a small few. Think about the limitations you assume are there or that prevent you from seeing your service in a new light. Then build from there. Be extra ordinary in that circle because a seed gets planted. Generic services get lost, they drown in a sea of white noise. So create even a small space to allow this to grow!”
You do not have to be everywhere with your message, you just need to be there for those who need you.
Be that mentor, guide, or problem solver for your particular audience. Get them to the edge of new possibilities, a place of extra ordinary circumstances, of dragons, dreams, and strange old men sitting by the river.
David P. Diana is a counselor, author, and a director for a behavioral healthcare organization. He writes a weekly blog on sales and marketing for counselors (www.davidpdiana.com)