There Is No Great and Powerful Oz

Do you approach your patients, clients, students, and/or children primarily from a perspective of rigid expertise…or empathetic relationship?  Are you willing to expose your vulnerabilities, hopes, dreams, mistakes, and insecurities or do you strive to present a picture of professional omnipotence?

Are you attempting to be the Great and Powerful Oz?

Because, and I realize I’m both flaunting my biases and deflecting attention from the thing I fear most in myself here, nobody is Oz.

Those of us who present as experts are all, to some extent, the man behind the curtain.  We’re all conflating ourselves, projecting our personalities, standing firmly on a foundation of pedagogical intimidation and bluster.  We are trained to show an infallible face, to know it all or at least present it as such.

By the way, those of us we serve…they are generally fine-tuned to our bullshit.  You know that, right?  They see through us and know if we’re listening, or not; if we genuinely care and like them, or not; if we want to support and serve them, or judge and fix them.

Nobody wants, or needs, to be fixed.  Not really.  Many, though, seek peace and healing.

In relationship.

As communion.

With mutual understanding.

Not as an object, medical curiosity, or human behavioral atypicality.

This is not to imply that I don’t have unique and specific knowledge, training, and experience that can support and serve others in healing ways even as they provide me with lessons and insights in return.

I do.

However, I chose very specific verbs to describe that expertise.

Support.  And serve.

Not fix.

Not even help.

(Not help?!)

Not help.

Even a helping relationship, which seems otherwise humane and desirable, sets up an uneven power dynamic.  It creates the scenario where I am the Great and Powerful Oz and you believe I can fix you, or vice versa.

No…the key is service.

Service relationships place individuals on an even human plane because each of us is fully and equally human.  Again, I may have a skill set or knowledge base that you want or need so that I may serve you.  But assuredly you have insights and access to behaviors which will boost and support yourself…AND me.  A service relationship allows for natural bi-directionality (or multi-directionality) in a relationship between two (or more) people.

Empathy is critical, the mutual understanding which allows for deeper connection so that I can utilize and share, not force, expertise while at the same time opening myself to grow from your expertise and experience.

Remember, at the end of The Wizard of Oz, when the man behind the curtain is exposed, his Great and Powerful Oz revealed as an actually amplified and projected sham?  Only then can he face the people seeking his support.  And there, in relationship, having empathy for each of the pilgrim’s plights, the artist formerly known as Oz is able to reveal that each of them has the potential to heal.  And Dorothy, in return, illuminates for the man that he, too, has the power to grow and find happiness and healing.

So I’ll ask again, do you approach your patients, clients, students, and/or children primarily from a perspective of rigid expertise…or empathetic relationship?  Are you willing to expose your vulnerabilities, hopes, dreams, mistakes, and insecurities or do you strive to present a picture of professional omnipotence?

Are you attempting to be the Great and Powerful Oz?

Because, nobody is Oz.

There is only the person behind the curtain.

And the only pilgrimage worth the toil and time is one of service, community, and relationship.

The journey, not the destination.

The means, not the ends.

-G

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