In a number of situations we met with professionals who were experiencing degrees of dissatisfaction. Working with them they succeeded in changing their perceptions and attitudes from boredom, depression and frustration to renewed vision and enthusiasm.

This happened so many times, more often than not, that we came to trust in the process of sharing ideas, actions and reviews, to bring us to a much greater sense of our own and other’s potential.

However, this way of working as equals, exploring questions, challenging our assumptions, and reviewing our stereotypical prejudices was not always welcome. For some the releasing of their own sense of status and hard-won expertise was too uncomfortable and they left saying that they preferred to work in situations where they knew they were in control of others and themselves.

For those who stayed with the experiment the rewards were great and often re-ignited a sense of passion and commitment towards their own work and lives. Some examples included:

  • Staff in Social Services during the reorganisations they underwent felt either deskilled or that they were now asked to do too much. By sharing this dilemma with others not actually involved in their work they experienced empathy, gaining a new perspective and sense of their own possibilities.
  • A management consultant frustrated with his work at board level where he struggled to get people thinking differently, felt profoundly inspired when he saw what his skills could open up for people unused to receiving such coaching and encouragement. In turn he found their fresh insights into his own issues reassuring.
  • For many participants being considered as an artist was a whole new experience. They were not used to their words and even their drawings been presented and responded to positively by total strangers. People of widely differing status found themselves coming together over similar reactions to life’s pleasures and difficulties. For some it raised their sense of self esteem while for managers and trustees it provided a whole new insight into and deepening appreciation of the people for whom they were responsible.
  • A journalist arrived to report on a one day writing workshop only to find observers were not allowed. If she was to stay she needed to participate. Dismayed she said that she had not done any creative writing for years and was even thinking of abandoning her career as a journalist. Once she was taking part in the creative writing course, being facilitated by strangers with no knowledge of the pleasures and pitfalls of creative writing, she suddenly found her inspiration returning and left with a sense of renewed excitement and commitment. Her resulting account of her personal journey took a whole double spread in her magazine – encouraging others to begin writing too!