Several passages from a favorite book of mine, Bread for the Journey, a daily journal by Henri Nouwen, made me think about the vision and importance of being client-centric and the overall client experience. In order to maximize the client experience, we must first maximize ourselves and our own personal “experience” and self-knowledge. Henri Nouwen writes:

“Are we friends with ourselves? Do we love who we are? These are important questions because we can’t develop good friendships/relationships with others unless we have befriended ourselves.

How then do we befriend ourselves? We have to start by acknowledging the truth of ourselves. We are beautiful but also limited, rich but also poor, generous but also worried about our security. Yet beyond it all we are people with souls, sparks of the divine. To acknowledge the truth of ourselves is to claim the sacredness of our being, without fully understanding it. Our deepest being escapes our own mental or emotional grasp. But when we trust that our souls are embraced by a higher power that loves us unconditionally, we can befriend ourselves and reach out to others in great fulfilling and loving relationships.”

“’Know yourself ‘, is good advice. But to know ourselves doesn’t mean to analyze ourselves. Sometimes we want to know ourselves as if we were machines that can be taken apart and put back together at will. At certain critical times in our lives it might be helpful to explore in some detail the events that lead us to our crises, but we make a mistake when we think we can completely understand ourselves and to explain the full meaning of our lives to others.

Solitude, silence and prayer/meditation are often the best ways to self-knowledge. Not because they offer solutions for the complexity of our lives, but because they bring us in touch with our sacred center, where God or a higher sense of self dwells. That sacred center may not be analyzed. It is a place of adoration, thanksgiving and praise.”

So, where does this journey start? If we don’t want to take that first step at self/firm examination, then we really aren’t going to be able to give our clients our best. We have to be willing to WANT to look at ourselves, but at the same time, looking at ourselves means being silent and stopping and listening to the quiet that is around us and what is truly within us. So, I challenge you this summer to do some summer reading, and some summer listening. I recommend reading The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte and then listening to yourself and those you trust and respect. I also hope that you enjoy some down time resting, rejuvenating and recharging!!!