Little Prince on friendships, coaching, and exploring
Everyone should have a book. That book.
The one that you’d never give away. If you lose it while moving, you’d buy another copy immediately. In fact, you’d get a couple. Just in case.
“Little Prince” by Antonine de Saint-Exupery is a good candidate.
“When you tell grownups that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”
I meet an old friend for coffee. After I come back, Italian wonders: “Where did he go to school?”.
“Umm…”, I shrug and shake my head. I have no idea. Italian seems bewildered.
“Haven’t you guys known each other for like.. years?”, he wonders.
“Yeah”, I respond. “But, we don’t talk about that stuff”.
“If you want a friend, tame me . . .”
“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.
“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me–like that–in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . .”
I am forever grateful to the patient grownups in my life.
On good coaching:
“For what the king fundamentally insisted upon was that his authority should be respected. He tolerated no disobedience. He was an absolute monarch. But, because he was a very good man, he made his orders reasonable. “If I ordered a general,” he would say, by way of example, “if I ordered a general to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not obey me, that would not be the fault of the general. It would be my fault.””
You can tell people what to do. As long as you make your orders reasonable. In coaching, we refer to this as “meeting the client where they are at”. Don’t expect a general to change himself into a sea bird.
“But I am not an explorer. I haven’t a single explorer on my planet. It is not the geographer who goes out to count the towns, the rivers, the mountains, the seas, the oceans, and the deserts. The geographer is much too important to go loafing about. He does not leave his desk. But he receives the explorers in his study. He asks them questions, and he notes down what they recall of their travels.”
Let me always be an explorer, and never a geographer. Let someone else count the towns, the rivers, the mountains. I’ll be exploring the towns, swimming in rivers, and climbing the mountains.