An appreciation of one of those people who touched my life without knowing, and led me to work as a psychodynamic ‘confidant’

Robert S Boynton (from

Robert S Boynton (from

I’m not sure whether you are familiar with the book by Mitch Albom, “The five people you meet in Heaven“, but the essence is that we never quite know whose lives we have (perhaps quite coincidentally) touched and yet, in that moment, we had a significant impact on them.

In the course of an academic’s career, I’m sure there will be many students whose lives they touch and who will look back in years to come and recognise their professor’s influence. Doubly true perhaps for journalists, who by virtue of their profession, touch far more people in many different ways. So today, I’d like to acknowledge the importance of the Professor of Journalism from New York University, Robert Boynton.

Back in 1990, I was on a British Airways flight somewhere in Europe. A reasonably fulfilled consultant, I specialised in helping create workplaces that were dynamic and enjoyable for the people who worked in them. Short of anything to read, I picked up a compilation magazine, “The Best of Business”, I believe, and in it was a copy of an article written the previous year by Robert Boynton, and reprinted from Manhattan inc, called “Dr Success“.

I was fascinated by the article, and the professionals that he described in it. To cut a long story short, eight years later, I finally qualified as a psychodynamic psychotherapist, at the same time becoming responsible for running one of the larger firms of consulting psychologists in London. Around 2000, I set up a practice with another colleague based just round the corner from Harley Street. Although that venture was quite short-lived, this year (in a couple of weeks time) I shall ‘celebrate’ ten years of working in this way, one-to-one, with executive clients – working behind the scenes, providing executive, business and leadership ‘coaching’ with a psychodynamic focus to help leaders see themselves, situations, and other people differently. Obviously my model, style and approach are going to be different to those of the people described by Boynton, but the inspiration clearly lay in the words he wrote back in 1989.

So, I want to say thank you. It’s been a fairly tough ride, and there are times when I wonder if it is worthwhile(!), but when a client discovers something, sees a connection they’d never have seen, achieves something they’d only dreamt of, or some other little thing happens, I know deep down that this is precisely the kind of work that I love doing and I often think back to that article that was such a catalyst.

Best wishes

The leaders’ confidant, working behind the scenes, helping them to see situations, organisations, themselves, and other people, differently

London (W1 & EC3) – Oxford (OX2) – skype

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