Why Say You’re an Empath?

I understand that the term “empath” can be considered controversial.

I hope you can see from the portfolio and information about this business that “I know what I am doing” as far as business planning and consulting is concerned.

If you’re starting a new business, you want to work with someone who is not only experienced in the process and has achieved success, but who also is able to understand your vision and share in it. While the “Devil’s Advocate” is valuable in any business situation, having an understanding of human nature and success factors is also crucial.

I’m sure you’ve heard that 90% of human communication is nonverbal.

In that respect — why write a business plan or pitch deck at all? Heck, why not just make a video, let a robo-advisor handle your finances, and sit on the beach while the money rolls in?

Well — as a sci-fi writer — maybe that will happen someday.

But the act of writing down, revising, and using a business plan, which should be a living document, does something for you, the business owner or organization.

Research is just beginning on empaths: who we are, what we can do, and what we cannot do. How we live and function. I can say that over 20 years of college teaching, I would perhaps experience one empath student per semester 20 years ago. When I taught my last classes in December 2019, I would have two or three empaths in every class. This amounts to a ten-fold increase in 20 years.

I sometimes tell people that empaths are “the opposite of people on the Autism Spectrum.” This isn’t really true — a person can be an empath and also on the spectrum. An empath simply has greater ability than the majority of people to perceive human emotions and nonverbal communication. If allowed to thrive, they can be extremely powerful contributors to organizations and society.

I don’t think I’m a particularly powerful empath or possess any abilities outside of the norm. It’s just that — imagine back in the days before the written word. People had to tell each other stories and often in the form of songs or poems, like the Iliad and the Odyssey. How about in the days before the computer and cell phone? Things were a little different, weren’t they? Most of all, people had to pay closer attention to each other. I remember growing up in the small town of Redlands, CA, and it wasn’t just unacceptable, it was unheard-of for any local resident to be homeless, for a family to go without food, or for someone to work a full-time job and be unable to afford at least a modest place to live. Slower-paced life, more human connection, and letting someone suffer while looking the other way? The people I grew up with and lived with knew what kind of person would do that. And they didn’t let that type of person run their lives or community.

I’m a sci-fi writer for a reason, and the main reason was Ray Bradbury coming to our local Redlands library and speaking twice while I grew up. He presented an inclusive, hopeful, positive vision for the future. And, he emphasized dreams, hopes, and caring for each other. He also, fascinatingly, presented robots as part of human families. I think that’s going to happen, and in a way, already has, through wearables, home assistants, and AI increasingly as a part of our lives.

Because of the stress of being exposed to others’ emotions, many empaths do not make it past young adulthood, or they are often cast by the wayside and experience severe problems throughout their life in relationships and health habits. An empath raised in a non-empathic family really has it tough. Our opposites – the sociopaths – usually identify, use, and neutralize or harm us quickly.

But a few of us make it through early adulthood and the rest of our lives and obtain a little bit of knowledge and wisdom that might benefit others.

So, having worked with some success in the following industries:

  • Housing and economic development
  • Social services
  • Local government
  • Higher education (20-year college teacher)
  • Writing and publishing
  • For-profit business development

And being someone who does read a lot of material, and who has experience condensing and translating complex technical information for general readers of all age groups –

There are two very serious barriers that I perceive and have repeatedly experienced, to success in business, education, and in any other endeavor:

Sociopaths do not have anyone’s interest other than their own immediate or direct material benefit at heart and there are quite a few of them and they can be very domineering.

Communication is not where it should be, or the way it should be, to achieve powerful results and advancement in any endeavor.

We can create machines that can learn and do amazing tasks.

And we have made a world in which Warren Buffett’s famous aphorism takes on a meaning that this elderly, predatory man probably did intend, but which most others don’t really understand:

Price is what you pay; value is what you get.

We empaths are needed because by our nature, we value others. If we live in the full world, we value it as well. Think of those who devalue things like the environment, a person they see sleeping under an overpass, a person they see as “less attractive” or older, or not wealthy. Are those the people you would count on to run your store? To develop a new treatment or model of healthcare? To do even something as simple as prepare and serve a meal to customers?

I can’t change who I am and the world did not change me; it made me stronger. I don’t need to lie or falsely present to others I am something other than who and what I am. And judging by my classrooms, there can and will be a lot more of me in times to come. And, just as with all other people and all other living things and our planet itself: we have value. A machine can’t do what we do, and may never be able to, any more than a computer can swim in the ocean and catch fish like an orca or a cell phone can play soccer. That’s “why say you’re an empath.”

Bonus aphorism – and this one’s from me not Warren Buffett:

Absolute power doesn’t corrupt absolutely; those who seek power are absolutely corrupt.

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