There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist. Gestalt therapy derives from art history, it proposes you must understand the ‘whole’ before you can understand the details. What you have to look at is the entire culture, the entire family and community and so on. Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.
We've all got too much on our plate. Here's a great methodology to eliminate draining clients and projects, or at least stop fooling yourself about which clients ARE draining.
Note: If I suddenly stop returning your calls/emails/DMs after today, chances are you warranted a '-' in the exercise below.
This is a ridiculously simplistic evaluation method for examining if your relationships are draining. After doing the exercise myself, I was surprised by some of the outcomes, however. There's something about drawing the visualization out that pressures increased honesty out of your pores.
How to evaluate your 'innovation' relationships for toxicity:
1. Draw a graph of stick figures with yourself as the nucleus.
2. Place each of the individuals/companies/organizations with which you work in hub-spoke formation around you. Give each their own 'atom' (circle) and connect them to you with a line (dotted if the relationship is secondary/indirect, solid if the relationship is direct).
3. Think about your relationships with each. Take some time on this one. How do you feel after working with/for them?
4. Outside their circle/atom, place a "+" if you feel nourished after spending time with them/working on a project for them, a "-".
5. Cross off every single direct (solid line) relationship that earned a '-'. Disclaimer: This may be your full time job. It may be a friendship that has lived past its expiration date, or even another type of relationship if you were brave enough to toss the personal in there and mix well.
6. Imagine what you could do to advance health reform and innovation if you put that time/energy toward the '+' relationships and projects.
Your time is the largest asset you have to advance thought-leadership in healthcare - are you squandering it on toxic relationships? Would you willingly choose to drink a bottle of cleaner with the Mr. Yuck sticker?
Toxic relationships may sometimes be necessary to advance a goal, but never forget the net drain, and once the goal is accomplished, make plans to un-dock from that setting.
Here's to nourishing the net-positive.
PS - If you stop returning *my* calls, emails, or DMs after this exercise, I'll know I wasn't nourishing in our equation. That's just fine, actually - toxicity is a side effect I never want to induce.