Carl Rogers was a giant in the field of psychology, perhaps the most influential psychologist in American history, with groundbreaking contributions in education, counseling, psychotherapy, peace and conflict resolution.
A founder of “humanistic psychology,” his research and experiential work focused on demonstrating the psychological conditions for allowing “self-actualization” through open communication and empowering individuals to achieve their full potential.
His was a highly non-traditional approach, which recognized that “each client has within him or herself the vast resources for self-understanding, for altering his or her self-concept, attitudes, and self-directed behavior—and that these resources can be tapped by providing a definable climate of facilitative attitudes.”
Rogers wrote about the process of self-actualization, creativity and moving forward in this way:
“During a vacation weekend some months ago I was standing on a headland overlooking one of the rugged coves which dot the coastline of northern California. Several large rock outcroppings were at the mouth of the cove, and those received the full force of the great Pacific combers which, beating upon them, broke into mountains of spray before surging into the cliff-lined shore. As I watched the waves breaking over these large rocks in the distance, I noticed with surprise what appeared to be tiny palm trees on the rocks, no more than two or three feet high, taking the pounding of the breakers. Through my binoculars I saw that these were some type of seaweed, with a slender ‘trunk’ topped off with a head of leaves. As one examined a specimen in the interval between the waves it seemed clear that this fragile, erect, top-heavy plant would be utterly crushed and broken by the next breaker. When the wave crunched upon it, the trunk bent almost flat, the leaves were whipped into a single line by the torrent of water, yet the moment the wave had passed, here was the plant again erect, tough, resilient. It seemed incredible that it was able to take this incessant pounding hour after hour, day after night, week after week, perhaps, for all I know, year and year, and all the time nourishing itself, extending its domain, reproducing itself; in short, maintaining and enhancing itself in this position which, in our shorthand, we call growth. Here in this palm-like seaweed was the tenacity of life, the forward thrust of life, the ability to push into an incredibly hostile environment and not only hold its own, but to adapt, develop, and become itself.”
Rogers’s eloquence regarding human and therapeutic relationships are eminently applicable in business and outsourcing relationships, especially in a Vested partnership—including the need for creativity, congruence, communication, transparency, adaptation and flexibility, along with what Rogers felt are three essential conditions for a relationship: “genuineness, acceptance and understanding.”
One of his great insights was the distinction he made between the world and people. “When I look at the world I’m pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic.”
By the same token it’s easy to be pessimistic about today’s business and economic climate, but by forging open, collaborative outsourcing relationships through a Vested model, there’s reason for optimism.
Another lesson for the business world comes from one of his most famous quotes:
“In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?”
Our task is to forge relationships that businesses use to grow and realize their full potential.