Essence and Form

Last week I met an author who has been read by millions.  Lots of things struck me, but two things stood out as he reflected back on his 73 years of life.

First, he quoted a friend who's nickname is "Tremendous". "You'll be the same year after year, except for the people you meet and the books you read."  That will stick on me for awhile.  It's also tremendous.

Second, he talked about writing books and what it's like when two authors begin to write one together.  "When you first get together," he said, "you always talk 'essence' and 'form'."  He went on... "If the other guy jumps quickly to form, then you know you'll have problems down the road with the project."  I could picture that happening.  "The best books are co-authored when you begin talking about essence.  And stay there for awhile." 

Then he shared about the time he met with a delightful couple years ago.  He was beginning a project with the gentleman, who brought along his wife for the meeting.  After the three of them talked for hours, never about form, the man turned to his wife and said, "Well, honey, do you think we ought to work with this guy?!"  And his wife replied, "Yes, but only if he brings his wife next time."  That's essence over form.  

So, I wonder, how would it affect our recruiting and hiring practices if we began with essence and ended with form?  How might it affect which students our staff spend much of their time with in the field, if form followed essence?  How about the kinds of people we bring on our teams? Is there a shared essence and not just common form?