“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
The former CEO of my former corporate employer, a large Wall Street investment firm, used to say that “people will always be in need of the advice and counsel of a fellow human being.” When he first said this it was exactly what everyone needed to hear, for it was in the late 1980’s just when the internet was gaining traction in revolutionizing all sorts of commerce, creating fear among those in almost every industry that the new electronic age would soon replace humans altogether. The financial services industry being at the leading edge of that fear needed to hear our CEO’s inspiring reminder more than ever, that human beings will always need other human beings.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Looking back it is amazing how prophetic the words of our former CEO were; for as much as the internet has become a fast and reliable universal resource it has yet to replace the need for human interaction and expertise. Take medicine, for example, where the internet has all kinds of information about diseases, ailments, conditions, and treatments, but when we are ill we still need a doctor, do we not? The same can be said for almost any profession. People will always need the advice and counsel of a fellow human being.
“There is a mental sharpness that comes from being around good people,” I read recently, “and a meeting of minds can help people see their ideas with new clarity, refine them, and shape them into brilliant insights.” Those words, in fact, are practically the mantra of my profession of executive coaching, a profession created specifically for the purpose of one person sharpening another. Ironically coaching as a profession didn’t even exist prior to the evolution of the internet. Could it be that the overwhelming volume of information available at the mere click of a mouse actually increased awareness for the need of human interaction rather than suppressing it?
Two people who bring their thoughts and ideas together can help each other become sharper – just as iron sharpens iron. “People will always be in need of the advice and counsel of a fellow human being.” Technology will never replace that.