Professional Provoking…Online

By Jim Whitt

 Monty Teeter was one of my first consulting clients when I started my business a couple of decades ago. I apparently struck a nerve during a conversation with Monty one day. He wanted to know what my official title was. I told him I was a management consultant. “No you’re not,” he responded. “You’re a professional provoker!” He went on to tell me — in no uncertain terms — that I was constantly provoking him.

I’ve learned to embrace the title of professional provoker because it’s an accurate description of what I do. There’s a method to my madness, though. Experience has taught me that people and organizations have to be provoked in order to fulfill their potential. My provoking is purposeful, positive and I try to accomplish it in good humor in my writing, consulting and speaking. I received one of my all time favorite compliments from Colleen Barrett who, after I had spoken to Southwest Airlines’ Culture Committee, sent me a letter saying I was her favorite people provoker. There may be other provokers in this world but hey, I’m her favorite.

Without periodic provocation we humans tend to end up like hogs in a mud hole — complacent and clueless. The person I’ve noticed who needs to be provoked more than anyone else is me. While I have found it physiologically challenging to give myself a kick in the butt, I’ve learned to accomplish the feat psychologically.

I’ve delivered a series of kicks to my psychological backside over the last few months. You’ll see the tangible results of my own personal provokings on the new Purpose Unlimited website. When you log on you’ll find a headline boldly proclaiming: “Jim Whitt provokes people…on purpose.” The photo above the headline is the first frame of a video that will tell you — in 40 seconds — why I’m a professional provoker. As you navigate the site you’ll learn how I do it.

I’m making more changes. These changes are not the result of business being bad. Quite the contrary, last year was the best year I’ve ever had since I started my professional provoking career. So, why change? The mud hole is always calling. The hog is so comfortable that it doesn’t realize it’s headed for the big pig sty in the sky — until it is too late. Complacency will do us in, too.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my struggle with change in As Time Goes By.  I was tired of dealing with all of the changes I was making but ended the article by saying that if I didn’t keep changing time would pass me by. That’s true for me and it’s true for you, too.

If you don’t want to end up in the mud hole go to I’ll provoke you online but promise not to hurt you. Oh, when you watch the video pay no attention to the rope I have in my hand.

Copyright © 2010 Jim Whitt Purpose Unlimited • 918.494.0009 • Permission to reprint: You may reprint this article in your own print or electronic newsletter, but please include the following: “Reprinted from the Purpose Unlimited E-Letter: For a free subscription, go to”

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