In the words of the Spice Girls breakthrough song ‘Wannabe’, if you ‘Tell me what you want, what you really really want’ then ‘I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want’ in return.
Sadly, in my experience, people mistake what they want for what they really need. Also, when asked ‘What do you want?’ many of my clients will send a long list of what they DON’T want. For example, “I don’t want to feel sad/lonely/self-loathing/lost etc. anymore.”
Do you really know what you need? If you run a business, do you really know your customers and understand what they need?
Henry Ford famously said that if you would have asked people what they wanted (prior to the invention of the motor car) they would have said: ‘A faster horse’.
Success in business really boils down to giving customers what they need. However, the mistake most businesses make is getting caught up in working out how to give customers what they want. Why?
Because it presupposes that they know or can imagine it as with a motor car vs a faster horse.
What I also hear regularly from my coaching and therapy clients is: “I want to feel (happy/loving/excited/real/confident/fulfilled…) again but I just don’t know how.”
Helping them requires that I focus on their needs and get out of the way. It is not about what I happen to think they should or shouldn’t want.
I was reminded of this last week. We have a large hen house and then some turkeys and a pair of cockerels who live in a stable and then roam the paddock. I always think that the latter group have a much better life. They are freer.
So, when one of the turkey-group cockerels died last week (just of old age) we ‘liberated’ one of the ‘captive’ cockerels from the hen run. For two days he wandered back to the hen run trying to find a way back in. Just when I decided I’d grab him and put him back with his old gang he disappeared. Probably dinner for Mr Fox I thought gloomily.
So much for my plan for his better life. He didn’t want it at all. He wanted his flock. He needed to feel safe and secure and in the only environment he has ever known. Lesson learned.
The next time you think about what you want, try shifting your thoughts to what you need now. For example, if you want to feel good about yourself then what do you need to do? Join the gym or join a Park Run for example. If you want to relax then what does your body need? A long bath and an early night perhaps? You get the idea.
Try it and by meeting your needs you will be able to know better what you want for better times ahead.
(P.S happy ending – the cockerel is now back in the hen house with his mates thanks to a neighbour who spotted him in the field and a large fishing net!).
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