If you’re in the business of helping people, or another business, move forward or make change or just do something differently, chances are you need to push some buttons to make that happen.
And I’m not talking about giving them a gentle poke and running away—I am talking about 'in your face challenging them about what’s working, what’s not working and HELLO? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?’ button pushing.
There’s a herd of elephants at large in many rooms right now, and if you’re not talking about the elephant your client has then who is going to? They certainly aren’t – they’ve cunning disguised said trunked animal as a hat stand. Everyone knows the elephant is there (it’s not super-convincing as a hat stand, even with a fedora on the end of its trunk), but if no-one is talking about it then guess what? That might be your job.
Sometimes talking about elephants and pushing buttons will make you unpopular—heck, it might even lose you a client (though not a client you want, by the way), but often times you’ll get a brilliant client who is relieved and pleased that you called them on it. Admittedly, they’ll be grumpy and defensive first in many cases, but then it’s likely they’ll be relieved.
Because we all have buttons and we all have the odd pet elephant and we’re pretty aware of that, and quite often secretly wish someone would call us on it. I know that’s why I have a coach. I do a pretty good line in elephant camouflage given half the chance, so I make a point of having coaches and mentors who push my buttons. "Are you hiding, Lucy?" "Why are you playing small, Lucy?" "Stop procrastinating, Lucy—you’re not helping anyone when you do that". BUTTON! PUSHING!
And hands-up I pass on the button pushing to my clients too. Because (when I’ve got their permission, of course!) I know that’s what they want. I’m not here to be everyone’s friend (although that does happen, which I am very thankful for), BUT I am here to make people see the value in their Thing and go out and get famous for it so the world benefits. And sometimes I have to point out some elephants in that process.
You need to put yourself in a position where your buttons can get pushed so that you grow, and do more with your Thing. You also need to seek out elephants and say "Hello". It’s pretty hard work trying to sweep an elephant under the carpet, so best to let them be seen and use them. Often our elephants are there to teach us.
Before I stretch this double metaphor of buttons and elephants too far, I just want to say: don’t be too nice. No-one’s going to get the best results, neither you or your clients, if you’re too nice. Say "Hello" to the elephant, enjoy having your buttons pushed and pushing some right back. But don’t ignore them. They will make all the difference to the results you get.
Here’s to button-pushing elephants at large. Let’s do the real work.
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