TOOL9’s key components are Presence, Sensitivity, Understanding and Autonomy – qualities that a client is likely to sense (even if they can’t name them), and which directly affect their trust in me. Trust, of course, is a pre-requisite to productive business relationships. Hence, if I develop these qualities, my Influence over clients is greatly increased.

I picture their development as something starting with Presence and, in my metaphor, moments of Presence are like tiny lights turning on. These tiny lights are surrounded by others, some of them associated with Presence, others with Sensitivity and, further out, Understanding, Autonomy and Influence. The lights have magic properties, so that incoming light causes them to light up in turn and to amplify the light they receive. Hence, moments of Presence cause Sensitivity lights to come on, which not only trigger more Presence and Sensitivity, but Understanding also. Gradually, more light accumulates, so that Autonomy starts to glow, and Influence begins to radiate. As time goes on, the light level increases and increases until it can be seen from far and wide. It is not only strong but inexhaustible - a light is not diminished by having more people use it to see by.

Each person finds their own way to implement this process, but there is a factor common to nearly all successful attempts. Space.

Space to think, experiment and reflect. Space in x, y, z and especially t. Space to go where no man has gone before, in the sense that every person's journey is unique, even if we are all extraordinarily similar in many ways.

Space provides an opportunity to think calmly, without hurry, and to allow understanding and ideas to turn up when they see fit. In particular, it is a pre-requisite to a non-linear thinking process. This is unlike the one that I habitually use when dealing with everyday life, where problems can generally be dealt with using logic. In this case, the harder I think and the more coffee I drink, the quicker I work things out.

Space allows me to experience Presence which in turn enables Sensitivity then Understanding, Autonomy and finally Influence, as depicted by the light metaphor above. The steps are simultaneously active. That is, once I increase Sensitivity to myself and my surroundings, this augments my sense of Presence also. Similarly, as a pieces of my personal puzzle begins to fall into place (Understanding), my Sensitivity is further amplified because I start to register factors and feelings that I wouldn't previously have noticed. Understanding enables Autonomy, which in turn enhances my Influence, and both these resources help me to assert my need for Space … thus creating positive feedback and a virtuous upward spiral.

This entire, natural process is at everyone's disposal, provided they can make Space to kick it off in the first place. It comes down to reserving time for walking alone, meditation, or some other practice, in circumstances where I am unlikely to be disturbed. This does not require a monastery. Headphones and peaceful music while sitting in an airplane can do the trick!

In fact, creating small Spaces in the everyday turmoil – moments of Presence stolen from the surrounding commotion – is incredibly useful. I guess you could also call this centring or grounding.

The TOOL9 model helps me step back from the daily mayhem from time to time, to recognise that I need a bit of Space, and to remember why. I hope that it helps you too.

TOOL9 is the ninth member of the ICON9 toolkit, initially designed for technical experts with customer-facing responsibilities (Sales people, Applications Engineers, etc.). In fact, anyone concerned with planning, engagement, discovery, negotiation, and so on should find it useful. The kit is free, and to obtain a copy please go to http://www.icon9.net/ICON9kit_request.php.