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Coaching to a Las Vegas State of Mind

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We want to take Gergen’s analysis a little bit further and relate it to the Las Vegas state of mind. Specifically, we are going to make use of a very old allegory: Plato’s cave. We will suggest what it is like to live in this cave and then we will redesign the cave to make it (from our perspective) more closely aligned with the Las Vegas state of mind—and frankly with the life most of us are now leading and, in particular, the lives being led by the men and women we coach.

Living in the Cave I: Observing the Shadows

One of the earliest and still most poignant allegories concerning the relationship between reality and fantasy is that offer by Plato regarding the dwelling of human beings in a cave. Plato suggests that we all live in an epistemological cave that has an opening through which the sun shines. Living in Plato’s cave we see only the shadows on the wall created by entities moving outside the cave that block the rays of the sun. We don’t see the real world that exists outside the cave, but only  representations on the wall of the cave.

Would Plato be particularly inclined to reinforce his allegory of the cave if he visited Las Vegas? While his Greek attire would be acceptable in Las Vegas (as is many other adornments of the human body), he probably would be disturbed regarding what he sees and witnessed and would, in our opinion, describe it as a cave (once he began to understand what is happening around him in this much different world of the 21st Century). When in Las Vegas we are obviously not in Paris. Rather we dwell and participate in a representation of Paris: a Parisian landscape is wrapped around a faux Eiffel tower. The one “true” experience in this make-believe Paris is culinary in nature: the restaurants offer delicious food that is cooked by chefs imported from (or at least trained) in Paris.

Is the Las Vegas state of mind similarly wrapped up in manufactured realities? When in a Las Vegas state of mind do we move from one faux reality (simulacrum) to another and believe that somehow we are experiencing reality rather than a shadow on the wall? Do the reality shows on TV capture the essence of this confusion between reality and fantasy? Are we enthralled with these TV shows and with Las Vegas precisely because they are safely at a distance from reality? As coaches do we play any role in encouraging our clients to distinguish between reality and fantasy – or do we play it safe and become part of the Las Vegas landscape for our clients?

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