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Coaching to a Las Vegas State of Mind

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So, what does Las Vegas represent in terms of a “state of mind”? To what extent does postmodern Las Vegas pervade our lives even when we are living and working somewhere far removed from this fantasy world in the desert? And what are the implications for those of us who do professional coaching when we are confronted with this state of mind in our clients (or find ourselves living at least temporarily in this state of mind)?  In attempting to answer these questions we will turn first to the challenges faced by those of us who have been alive for many years and confronted reality prior to the advent of the computer or at least the advent and dominance of social media. We are the people who are sometimes called the “digital immigrants” (because we entered this new world from another place and time).  We will then turn to the Las Vegas state of mind as it exists in the lives and perspectives of younger men and women—those who are the “digital natives” (having lived all of their life with computer-based technologies and now dwell in the world of social media). While most professional coaching is now being done with the digital immigrants, we are likely to find more coaching in the future being done with the digital natives. Even more importantly, these young men and women will become the new leaders (if they are not already starting up and leading high tech companies). Furthermore, they are the next generation of professional coaches.

Redesigning Plato’s Cave: Multiple Identities and Multiple Realities

During the 1990s, Ken Gergen wrote a book that was in many ways quite prophetic: The Saturated Self  (Gergen, 2000: Revised Edition). Gergen identified challenges we face in defining who we really are. Traditionally, our personal identity was defined by the family of birth and the community in which we were raised. As Tevye notes in the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, it is all about tradition! Our place in the world is pre-assigned and we live within the boundaries of a specific place and time. The struggle for Tevye concerns the desire of his daughters to break out of these boundaries—particularly in their choice of husbands. Gergen is suggesting that not only are there fewer pre-assigned identities (at least in most Western societies), there also are a massive number of alternative identities from which to choose. Given the inundation of advertisements via many different media, we don’t know which identity to choose. Are we going to be the most interesting man in the world or the glamorous but troubled teen-age star?  At a more mundane level, are we going to be the corporate accountant or independent store owner? What about the trade-off between a life devoted to family and a life devoted to career—we certainly see appeals to both priorities on our TV and computer screens.  We are saturated with alternative identities and must try repeatedly to discern which of these identities is authentic or at least aligned with our decisions and actions.

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