Authenticity: The Backbone of Consulting?

Photo by Jayant Kulkarni on
I’m just getting started with reading Flawless Consulting, a classic read for current or would be consultants, whether internal or external. I’ve had several conversations and harbored personal discomfort about consulting professionally. The ideas introduced in the first three chapters are already pushing me to think differently and cut directly into my own personal exploration and work. You never can separate the person from the work. I opened this site by talking about being authentic and the challenge that our understanding of “professionalism” poses for that. Most people spend a majority of their life segmenting their identity so we can see them in the right way at the right time, but never be mistaken for another aspect of themselves. It’s like sending a twin to fill in for you at a party you should make an appearance at and getting found out! For me, this might look like segmenting my interesting in astrology from my interest in consultation or my interest in data management and analysis. Really, I see all those interests, skills, and abilities as related and reinforcing one another, but I’m constantly fighting an internal battle.
  • What options will I have for growth if I’m seen as a non-technical person?
  • Will the validity of what data I help to provide be questioned because I also believe in data provided by planetary movement?
  • To what extent might it be appropriate to allow a crossover of my understanding of climate and environment from spiritual or astrological perspectives into work with clients who don’t share those beliefs?
  • Is one able to segment beliefs?
  • Will my own insecurities about belief and identity restrict my potential for working with others?
I could easily continue this list, but you get the idea — there is a lot of insecurity that comes up in working to be authentic and a lot of processing that has to happen to pinpoint what is authentic.
Authentic behavior [with a client] means you put into words what you are experiencing [with the client] as you work. Block, P. (2011). Flawless consulting: A guide to getting your expertise used (3rd edition). Pfeiffer. 
There’s an externally facing boldness required to practice this kind of authenticity, but also an internal boldness required to name and be honest with yourself about your experience. Block talks elsewhere about the validity of needs and of feelings as data, and I couldn’t find this more exciting or provocative. From the seat of the practitioner, this needs to be true for oneself, first. When I name an experience I’m having, how has that experience been colored by my own internal ladder of inference about how I should feel? How certain am I that when I process any input I’m clear, centered, and grounded on what this means for myself from the seat of my truest beliefs? This feels like the place where your Google searches for “how do I know what I want” tell you to meditate or adopt other mindfulness practices, because those traits are exactly one outcome of doing so. I say this as someone whose meditation and mindfulness practice is aspirational at worst, developing at best. These kinds of reflections help me see more concrete pointers as to how developing personal clarity does in fact have a massive effect on how you contribute to and create change in the world is deeply motivating on its own.