Prescribing vs. Inspiring

The difference in the end result when we prescribe what others should do, vs. inspiring and encouraging them towards their own aspirations – it is so clear to me, and so consistently amazing when it is not clear to those who insist on prescribing what others should do. When we tell someone what to do, it becomes a battle of wills.  “I’ve told him a million times, and he just refuses to listen to me!”

When we instead aim them at their own highest potential, they figure it out for themselves. They self-motivate. It is so fun to watch when we just aim folks at what they want as the result, and help them figure out for themselves how to remove the barriers.

But what to do if the “problem to be solved” is the very act of prescribing? What to do when we are watching a prescriber digging a deeper and deeper hole simply by dictating what others should do? How does one inspire and encourage the prescriber? Because truly my first reaction to those who are always in “should” mode is to prescribe that they stop!

Sometimes life feels like a hall of mirrors, endlessly watching as this becomes that becomes this again, all eventually reflecting me back to me. It’s an endless lesson in the fact that the issues I see in others are usually first issues I am failing to see in myself. How do I get past my own prescriptions, and instead inspire/encourage someone to inspire/encourage others?

If I only I didn’t need to come up with a plan in time for a meeting this afternoon…

4 thoughts on “Prescribing vs. Inspiring”

  1. Well, this is – what? – your fourth blog posting in your life, and I think you’ve got it down.

    I think this venue will prove invaluable to those who don’t already know you (and Dimitri – good job on the design on this blog site, by the way!).

    For those of us fortunate enough to already have a connection, we can attest that the voice in the blog is, indeed, the same as the voice of the person.

    I, for one, will keep reading with interest. Thanks for all your support personally, and your vision of what will make the world a better place to be.

    As you once told me, you’ll never fulfill your goal if you don’t make one (and if you’re setting a goal, might as well make it a big one!)

    Your goal is, quite simply, to change the world. The devil is in the details, and there’s a lot of devil in you and Dimitri (in the most positive sense, of course ).


  2. Michael:
    Oh what words of encouragement – thank you! I’m feeling particularly bedeviled by details today. It’s Sunday, and DP and I will be in the office all day, trying to get out the survey that will hopefully help us put the final touches on our first consultant course for the Institute. So many details, so little time!

    Can’t wait to hear about your own adventures, though. Perhaps it’s time you create your own blog?


  3. Hildy,

    I am signed up for the changing the world assignment and think you are onto something with the prescribing vs. inspiring. Something I have been chewing on is how can we create more spaces in the world where people feel safe and trusting which allows them to think and work together, optimize resources, have a broader impact. Not naive safety but safety that comes from a sense of shared mission and goals and a commitment to ongoing discussion and reflection about shared norms for how to work out conflicts that arise. When people feel threatened they contract when they feel safe they expand and there is more to go around.

    Here’s to working together to change the world!


  4. Naava:
    Thanks for joining us! And you are right – it is lots to consider. The issue of safety has so many perturbations – starting with physical safety, survival, and only then moving out to emotional safety, spiritual safety. Do we focus whatever work we are doing on first finding that safe place? And if we are working in a war zone, or in a place where folks don’t have food or shelter – what does that mean, for what kinds of work? How does one address the difference between “feeling threatened” and actually existing in a physically threatening situation?

    I come back to compassion a lot – putting myself in the shoes of others. What would it take for me to feel ok in that situation? And how do we help bring that about?

    So thanks for starting my wheels going in that direction!


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