In my recent reading of mind stretching books, the kind that I hope makes me a better student of people and a better leader, I came across a quote that I found very helpful.
“The key is to think less about the ideal behaviour of imaginary people and more about the actual behaviour of real people. Real people are much more unpredictable.”
I sometimes wish regulators and writers of examination papers recognised this. I have sat many an examination where part of the paper contained what we describe as case studies. A so called typical scenario is painted and questions then asked about the advice that should be delivered. In other words we have to move into an imaginary world, with ideal clients and give textbook answers.
I have spent far more time over the last 35 years sitting in front of clients or perspective clients, some of whom no examiner, no matter how much he or she would use their imagination could create a case study from!
The actual needs, behaviour and responses of clients are often very removed from textbook case studies and the minds of pen pushing people. People removed from the furnace of client meetings where solutions are forged.
The remark in the quote that real people are much more unpredictable, brought a smile to my face and also reminded me about why what we do is so exiting and varied.
If the world was filled with imaginary people behaving ideally and reacting predictably, then there would be no need for people like me. Everyone’s needs could be met by flowcharts, but we know that they can’t be.