In his early thirties, a solid degree in economics from a prestigious American university, athletic physique, captivating manners and smile, excellent expressiveness, fluid and pleasant, only a few slight traces of tension, quickly comes to the point: for some months, to counteract the stress to which he is subjected, on advice and medical prescription, he takes drugs, mainly to prevent a specific condition from recurring.
It happened to him, a few months ago, without being possible to find a valid reason, to find himself stuck during a presentation of the services of the company for which he works, a presentation that he had done countless times, a task that presented absolutely no difficulty.
The block had presented itself as an unpredictable and uncontrollable block of thought and speech, he no longer had in mind what he had to say next, what followed what he had just finished saying, it had lasted a few seconds, seconds in which he had felt lost and terrified … the bystanders had probably not even noticed, taking his silence as a pause to effect, perhaps a little prolonged.
But he knew it wasn’t an intentional pause.
The first time this happened he did not worry about it at all, but the phenomenon was repeated again, arousing in him deep concern: it is a key performance in his current professional role, for this reason he decided to resort (on the advice of his father, head of surgery of an important hospital in the capital) to the help of a specialist, excellent psychiatrist, who prescribed two drugs, one to be hired daily, the other at the discretion of the young manager, in view of meetings that were esteemed as particularly critical and potentially stressful.
For a few months things went well, then came the holidays, fully and widely enjoyed in the company of friends and his girlfriend, who will become his wife in a few months, well-being fully recovered.
Upon returning from vacation, he felt so well that he decided, without consulting the specialist, not to resume taking the drug, which he had interrupted at the beginning of the holiday … and again, in a completely unexpected way, and without any warning signs appearing, the block recurs during the first presentation to a new customer.
Informed the specialist of recent events, who reproached him harshly, John resumes taking the drug, the blockage does not recur.
But our young manager is not happy with the solution.
The company in which he works likes him, he likes the work he does, he is happy with the rewards he gets, he has excellent results, he manages almost all the most important customers of the company, he has excellent prospects for growth and career, he likes the people he works with, he enjoys all the benefits of a young company in which brilliant young people work, in which everyone is young, the “oldest” is under forty, the CEO is 36, he is a genius … of course, the pressure is high, the things to do to maintain the results obtained are many, the goals are at the limits of the impossible, but for him it is nothing new, it has always been so, since the days of high school.
His father, loved and respected, taught him that he must and can always give more than what is “normal”, in order to then enjoy adequate privileges and rewards.
As he talks about it, his eyes light up, and his voice warms up… I would very much like to give to my son what my father gave to me, to transmit to him what my father transmitted to me.
He does not like the idea of having to knead for the rest of his life, even if he has been informed that many people do it, without side effects: for this reason he is looking for an alternative solution, which allows him to feel less pressured, to feel less tense, among other things for the performance of tasks that he has successfully faced countless times and in which he has always managed to obtain excellent results.
He discussed this desire and intention with his father first, and then with the specialist, obtaining a favorable opinion from both … a previous experience with a psychologist, lived years ago, had totally disappointed him, and therefore it seemed unfavorable to resort to some form of psychotherapy.
Moreover, for the young manager, it was quite clear that the issue concerned exquisitely professional aspects, a conviction also shared by his father, who asked for directions from a company manager with whom he was on excellent terms, that manager I had just served years ago.
The executive coaching option, advocated by the manager who had among other things also successfully dealt with me with the issue of stress, seemed to be right for him, and here he is.
In short , there, he in Houston and I in Milan, the videoconferencing system works perfectly … it is not the exact place, for confidentiality I have changed many references, so that it is not possible to recognize the young manager in any way: from here on we will call him John O.
John O’s story is torrential and bubbly, it flows continuously, I ask very few questions and I say very few things … we are approaching the conclusion of this first exploratory session, and now what is being done?
You must know that I consider us humans as wonderful and amazing biological machines: like any machine we also work using codes, just like robots in the factory, or our personal computers.
Codes that guide our actions, all aimed at guaranteeing us the best conditions of survival; for me survival is everything, not only staying alive, but the clothes we wear, the career, home, family, thought, everything is a form of expression of this command to which we all obey.
The picture you have presented is very clear, it is necessary to deepen the elements, before we can remove the reservations and possibly proceed.
We will work on the codes, useless now to try to explain to you how our work together will work, it is necessary that you try it, so that we can in turn assess whether it is worth continuing for you, in case the reservations can be removed.
But I can tell you this: the block you have described is the result of one or more codes that have come into action, for your best protection.