HYCS #2 – Pick Your Point

HYCS #2 – Pick Your Point

Clarity is power for consultants.  To your definition of consulting, we’ll be adding a point of focus for the course.


Word Count: 799

Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

Assignment Time: 5 minutes for the point



In Harry Nilsson’s clever animated musical, “The Point,” a little boy named Oblio and his dog Arrow are exiled to the Pointless forest because Oblio lacks a point. While there, they encounter a man with several faces and arrows sticking out of him in every direction.  When Oblio asks what a Pointed Man is doing in the Pointless Forest, the man replies, “Everyone knows that having a point in every direction is the same as having no point at all!”

I’m reminded of the power of a single focus whenever I learn something new.  Recently, I decided to learn steel guitar. After majoring in classical guitar, I thought “How hard can it be?”  It took only seconds for this single-pointed desire to explode into overwhelming complexity.   Unlike classical guitar which comes in a single instrument and one tuning, steel guitar had so many options:   An electric or acoustic instrument; whether to play hawaiian, blues, or western swing music; whether to play solo or improvise with others; which tuning to use to name only a few.  Each choice came with a steep learning curve.    I had to eliminate options to make any progress at all.

After choosing to improvise on an acoustic guitar in open D tuning, and getting some facility with the heavy steel bar used to pick out notes and chords, I found myself in the dining room of Hotel La Rose with my friends Rick and Bob.  Bob is an accomplished steel guitar player from Alberta, Canada, and Rick is a local actor and an excellent fingerstyle guitarist.  Rick had just given me a quick improvisation lesson, which involved eliminating options and complexity so I could eke out a solo.  “Pick 3 notes,” he said, “and play only those.  For the rhythm, pick a simple phrase or word you like, and play that rhythm.”

It worked when I was trying it out with him and no one was listening.  Now we had a small audience, and Bob nodded to me to take a solo on a song I’d never heard before.  Out of all the notes I could have played I chose three in a row – dead simple to play, and not very inventive.  Out of all the rhythms in the world, I chose the rhythm of the word broccoli.

I sounded brilliant.  Even better, it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing music.  I could not wait to take another solo.

Your consulting goal is going to be like that.  Honing it to a single point enables you to turn your aspiration into accomplishment and find the fun.


In upcoming lessons, we’ll be talking about how consultants use power.  One of the prerequisites for being powerful as a consultant is aligning yourself with your client’s simple goal.  This program will be most powerful for you if I can align myself with your goal.  I think of this like the Pointed Man:  How many faces am I wearing?  How many directions am I facing?  Work with your point until it’s heading in a single direction.  It should be dead simple, and clear to everyone who reads it.


Author and coach Stephen Chandler writes “Discipline is remembering what you want.” An aspiration is what I want my future to look like.   The stronger the desire for that future state, the more energy I’ll have for the change I need to make to bring it about.  The discipline tells me how I need to change my behavior; the desire fuels my progress.  Together they add up to a goal.  The Goal formula is “I want  _(aspiration)__, so I will  _(discipline)__.”


ASPIRATION: I want to make each engagement a success, starting with the first conversation.


DISCIPLINE:  I will persist until I get a definition of success that is clear to me for in my first meeting with a new client.


ASPIRATION:  I want to walk into any situation with confidence, and leave knowing I’ve contributed my best.

DISCIPLINE: I will offer even outrageous alternatives,  including doing nothing, to every client.


ASPIRATION:  I want to be more calm and confident.


DISCIPLINE:  I will slow down and breathe.


 Most important of all is that you write the goal that fits for you, no matter how strange it might seem to someone else.


Please send me your goals so I can align myself with them.  Next week we’ll get started on Power for consultants.  Once I figured this out, my practice changed completely.  I can’t wait to share it with you.