The Hardest Part of the Great Work: Honesty

by Mike Sententia on June 13, 2012

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Real, honest data is the lifeblood of science. It lets us know which changes are actual improvements, and it lets customers know what to expect from a healing session.  But failure, even minor failure, makes us flinch. And it’s so tempting to omit some commentary — no lies, just omissions — to tell a better story. For example, take Lisa’s report on the healing session for her knee:

The next morning I was surprised that the aching was nearly gone. I had good movement forward and backward, and I could do a partial squat without pain. My knee was still very sensitive to any movements that put a rotational stress on the joint or activities like jogging, so I avoided those.

Wouldn’t it be nicer if the results didn’t include that last sentence? I mean, it wouldn’t be lying, just… editing.

Disclaimer: I did light editing for readability, like changing “I work 12 1/2 shifts” to “I work 12.5-hour shifts,” but no content changes / removals.

I know that marketers stretch the truth. No news there. But what struck me was how tempting it was to edit Lisa’s text and remove those caveats. Because a stronger story might help me get more clients. And because a stronger story lets me feel better about my own skills as a healer, and as much as I want to develop actual reliable results, it’s really tempting to skip that hard work and just believe you’re already good. Besides, I wouldn’t really be lying, right?

I used to think that only slimy marketers embellished like that. But now I know, everyone does. We all want to believe we’re great at what we do, and if selectively forgetting a few details will make that happen, we’ll all do it, even if it’s only unconsciously. The only defense, I think, is writing up the results while they’re fresh, before you can forget anything.

So, three takeaways:

  • Write up case studies. They’re really valuable. Five years from now, after I’ve forgotten all the details about what I did this year, I can come back and compare my healing techniques over time, see what changes were the most valuable, and so on. You can’t do that with just memory.
  • If you can, have a partner write up the results. It’s much easier for Lisa to be objective about my skill as a healer than it is for me to be objective.
  • You’re not alone. Everyone finds it painful to notice places where their magick didn’t work as well as it could have. The hardest work of becoming an expert is looking honestly at your shortcomings, and fighting the urge to believe you’re already good.

Also, a big thank you to Lisa for writing up such good details on the two healing sessions, so I have this data to work with later.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

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