If we are successful in our mission we will put ourselves out of business

If we are successful in our mission we will put ourselves out of business

27 January 2016

I remember being very struck by something that I read by one of the pioneers of the green movement, Jonathon Porritt.

He wrote about the fact that the political movement that he was part of, and had started, only needed to exist because there was a set of problems to solve.

He suggested that if they were successful in bringing about a change of our relationship to the natural world and environment then the political movement could disband as it would no longer be needed.


I love this idea and have often thought about this within the context of being someone who has spent much of his life working with human challenges and difficulties, that frankly it would be great if we didn′t have to suffer.

For instance, addiction is an incredibly destructive condition for those chronically addicted and those who care for them, love them, have to live with them, and for the communities in which they live.

Everyone suffers when chronic addiction develops in a person’s community. If I had a magic wand I would certainly wave it and get it out of the human experience.

It is this relationship between need and service that coaches, counsellors, psychotherapists, and other helping professionals have, that is, for me, interesting.

It is a tough truth to speak but here I go: I really would prefer that there was no one out there who needed my services when it comes to human health and well-being crisis.

I have spent much of my time working with people in quite strong states of distress. Whilst to some extent as a professional this has provided me with the means to support my life i.e. I charge people for my services, in reality I really would prefer it if my fellow humans didn′t have to go through the extreme struggle and suffering that I see.

One of the aims then of our work as helping professionals or assisting professionals (the exact use of words here is always a little contentious) is to ameliorate suffering in some way first.

Then to see how we may work with people so that they may reduce any further ongoing suffering. I.e. that the need to engage with us lessens and eventually ends. Wouldn′t it be great if that need disappeared almost altogether?

Then of course our collective helping professions could also be focused on deeper questions about how might we contribute to actually preventing some of these sufferings arising in the first place.

If we were successful in that then we would indeed be able to think about the fact that we have made ourselves redundant!

What an interesting idea that much of what we do has this component to it.

Of course when it comes to coaching the model for interacting with clients is different to that of a medical model therapeutic approach.

And it is this key difference of course that inspires me to be a coach as opposed to another specific kind of practitioner.

When working with people not because they are suffering but because they are reaching for their next level of human fulfilment, or their next fulfilment of inspiration, that they′ve had, or to improve their ability to make a positive impact, we are out into a different kind of realm.

I′m not sure that when it comes to this kind of coaching engagement I do wish to be out of business!

In this instance we won′t be putting ourselves out of business if we are successful; rather we will be increasing people′s interest in what we do by being successful. It is an interesting paradox and one which will not be easily satisfied until we have organised ourselves better as a society. When we have been able to combat some of the deeper underlying causes of human suffering, namely economic and inequality, social strife, the disillusionment of some aspects of the consumerist life and so on.

But for now in many respects I hope that one day I′ll be up to say that we are reducing the need for people to meet others in the suffering and that we can focus more on working with people to build inspiring fulfilled lives.