I’m experimenting with sharing about my current read on this blog. As you can see I’ve started with my reread of Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.Well, actually I started a few days ago with my first experiment putting together a quote and an image and sharing it with my friends on social media. I’ve included that below in case you missed it. But this is the first #bookcrush on my blog.
There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen.
When you are looked at, your eyes can be closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight. When you are seen, your eyes must be open, and you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light.
One is exhibitionism, the other is connection.
Not everybody wants to be looked at.
Everybody wants to be seen.
–Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help
Most of what I do professionally is witness other’s lives. There’s something profound that happens when one is deeply listened too. And of course sometimes I have opinions and advice. Strategic planning, and sometimes stress management is involved, but most of my work is giving people the space and safety to be really honest with themselves. So yes, I agree everyone wants to be seen. I would actually go as far as to say everyone needsto be seen.
However in a coaching/facilitation situation there’s not a performance going on. As much as I get from my work, my clients aren’t there for my benefit, they are there for theirs. So it’s a bit different from what Palmer is describing here as an artist wanting to be seen, but her words have helped me pinpoint a similarity between what I love about my work and what I love about some of my favorite performers.
For example, I consider how inclusive Tig Notarois of her audience. Sometimes interacting with them directly, sometimes putting herself in their position. There’s a feeling of inclusiveness that makes her not only one of my favorite comedians but one of the few famous people I’d love to be friends with. I mean, it seems like I already know her so well, once she gets to know me, we’ll probably be texting all the time… or that’s how it feels anyway. Ultimately this inclusiveness is a finely-honed craft on her part, but it rests on the foundation of honesty, trust, and being present in the moment.
In working with clients they bring as much honesty and trust as they can because that’s how this process works best. You could pay me to listen to your favorite lies about yourself, but why? I’m responsible for creating a space where truth can happen by bringing my full attention to the session. Truth sharing and witnessing are still present, it’s just as the “audience” in this case it’s my responsibility to set the tone rather than the other way around.
In thinking this through, I realize that what I’m drawn to in my favorite artists isn’t just their willingness to share a bit of their raw truth, but the transformational energy created by their ability to also bring their sense of presence and awareness of their witnesses.