posted 15 Sep 2009 in Volume 12 Issue 10
I am a dancer
David Gurteen asks 'which metaphor best describes you?'
For years, I have struggled, not knowing how best to label myself. Am I a teacher, a trainer, a coach, a writer, an author, an educator, an adviser, a consultant or a facilitator? Or am I some blend of all of these?
I am clearly not a teacher in the traditional sense and I am not a trainer (and dislike the word). It works fine for animals and athletes, little else. I am not an author, as I have yet to write a book, but I do write so I am a writer of sorts. An educator? Not really and given my lack of any serious academic qualifications or affiliations this label does not feel right either. And I am not a consultant; most work I do that could be labelled as consultancy is of only a few days duration. I give advice, I do not consult. And a facilitator? Well yes, maybe, I run workshops and I certainly facilitate my knowledge cafes. But maybe an expert in something such as knowledge management (KM) – a ‘KM expert’ – no, not an expert (I would never be so presumptuous to label myself an expert in anything).
So writer, adviser and facilitator, I am. But it still seems rather wishy-washy. I’d much rather say I was an engine driver or a brain surgeon – something clean and crisp that everyone understands.
I was Skyping with someone recently and trying to explain more fully what I did and the underlying principals behind who I was and I referred to three quotations that have inspired me from men whom I feel are my mentors (Google them to learn more about them.). Here are the quotes:
“I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue.” Martin Buber
“Children do not need to be made to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world then anyone else could make for them.” John Holt
“Waking up is unpleasant, you know. You are nice and comfortable in bed. It’s irritating to be woken up. That’s the reason the wise guru will not attempt to wake people up. I hope I’m going to be wise here and make no attempt whatsoever to wake you up if you are asleep. It is really none of my business, even though I say to you at times, “Wake up!” My business is to do my thing, to dance my dance. If you profit from it, fine; if you don’t, too bad! As the Arabs say, “The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens.” Anthony De Mello
It was then it dawned on me: I do not teach, train, educate or facilitate. I am a dancer. Yes, it’s a nice neat label that people understand but it is still going to require some explanation...
David Gurteen is founder of Gurteen Knowledge. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org