In Medieval Europe, the church was the center of the community, the nation and, for a while, the universe. The center moved to autocrats and governments eventually.
What if there is no center anymore?
Understanding changes things. An astrophysicist will tell you the universe has no center. It is relativistic. We try to force a center to exist, after all it began with a pinpoint explosion, but in this manner of thinking we find the center of the universe must be outside our universe. Rather odd.
“Center of the universe” is not something that has meaning. Sorry Kardashians.
People want and often need a familiar authority to rely on for advice or comfort. It once was the church. While priests were the only ones who could read and write, they became the center for purpose of some communications. That lead to more important roles in society. Mentor, counsellor, guru, even oracle. Their best role is guide.
There were other guides too. Some of those survive. Think parent. The center of the family. When families were better organized, they were important as providers, mentors, and guides. To some extent at least, those roles are being systematized.
Today people acquire guidance from the internet and rely on the government.
All networks gain strength by being distributed. If fact, the idea of diminishing marginal returns does not apply to networks. The more they grow, the more capable they become. As they grow, it becomes easier for them to grow more. The ideas of saturation and limits seem to not apply.
Their flaw is these networks are not personal. Networks provide generic guidance and often miss subtle, yet important differences in the people they guide.
Networks cannot replace guides. They can support them, they can indicate further needs, they can provide balance and insight. They cannot replace guides because the people being guided are unique and networks are not so good at unique. People have special needs, capabilities, inspiration, time frames, and fears. Some not fully rational.
Some people will connect to networks because it is easy. To robo-advisors for instance. These will be an improvement over the condition of doing nothing, so that much is good. Robo-advisors will be a little inept at sorting out conflicting ideas and assessing the affects of personal biases. They may be able to nag, but not motivate. Report but not congratulate.
Some people will connect to networks because they have lost the ability to connect to people.
The ones who connect to networks still need a center. As new situations arise, you will notice how the network-connected/people-disconnected crowd are looking for more government action and rules. That is their method of seeking validation and meaning. If the authority makes it so, and I agree, I feel better.
Be about people. Seth Godin talks about tribes. The people you relate to as people. The ones who both gain and provide value from being in your tribe.
An advisor must develop a tribe. That will involve two parts. Find the ones you can work with and find the ones you cannot. Be especially willing to dismiss the ones who can’t fit your value delivery model. You cannot please everyone and attempting to do so ends up pleasing no one.
A wise advisor will ask more questions than they will answer. They will use networks to support their system, but not depend on the network. They will be the center of a very small group who are looking for guidance. The advisor connects people to special knowledge from the world outside their personal domain.
Think of it as becoming a specialist in being a generalist.
A good guide helps people get where they are going by avoiding problems and using their resources in better ways.
Guides are local. Networks are remote. Guides work with tendencies and probabilities. People like concrete answers, even though few exist, so they don’t know the value of the guide. Guides tell stories to explain and to position themselves as useful additions to the person’s life.
Guides are important. Learn to be one.
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