Yesterday I visited the Forbidden City.
I spent many hours marveling at the intricacies, the excess, simplicity, harmony, feng shui, sheer number of people… On the way out, my guide took me to a gift shop off the beaten path. It seems like it was poised for Westerners with numerous higher-end items of jade and bronze for sale.
There was an artist there who is purportedly the great grand nephew (or some such) of the Last Emperor of China. My entire life, I have had to live with teasings of being “gullo-ble”; which has caused me to be somewhat of an uber-skeptic about a lot of things. Ultimately, I didn’t really care who it was or whether this person had actually painted the calligraphy I was seeing, etc. I decided to buy one particular scroll that totally resonated with me in that particular moment.
I know full well I over-paid for it and I am fairly certain that my tour guide is in cahoots with many of the merchants for a cut. Doesn’t matter. What I bought was a memory, a fairly nice decoration for my home, and a ponderance that I think [sic] will be with me for quite a while.
The characters represent “wu wei” which means “no action” or “not doing”. It was heavy.
I immediately thought about coaching, leadership, management, etc. Organizations seem so eager to fix everything. ”Let’s hurry up and get to where we are going.” or “We need to act NOW!!” Many coaches I meet are telling clients and sorting things out for them. Enumerating the practices and prescribing things rather than helping the client to effect their own changes or experience a shift in thinking.
In the future, I will have this scroll as an aid in training and coaching and a story that I can share with others. Its meaning goes beyond the tangible.
And so, in the end, I received more value from the bargain than I originally surmised.