AIWATT isn't a universal panacea for all our interpersonal problems. I've given it prominence here because it has a specific utility. It's a reminder that our environment tempts us many times a day to engage in pointless skirmishes. And we can do something about it - by doing nothing. Like closing our office door so people hesitate before they knock, when we ask ourselves, Am I willing, at this time, to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic? we have a thin barrier of breathing room, time enough to inhale, exhale, and reflect before we engage or move on. In doing so, we block out the chatter and noise, freeing ourselves to tackle changes that really matter. Of all my coaching clients, the executive who improved the most while spending the least amount of time with me was Alan Mulally. And he was a fantastic leader to start with. He writes, with co-author Margaret Black: The psychoanalytic situation - is perfectly designed for the exploring and regenerating of personal subjectivity- . The patient is offered refuge from the demands of the outside world; nothing is expected except to `be' - to connect with and express what one is experiencing. No continuity or order is demanded; unintegration and discontinuity are expected and accepted. The analyst and the analytic situation provide a holding environment in which aborted self-development can be reanimated - [In this situation it is] safe enough for the true self to begin to emerge. John and I had stumbled onto the very secrets upon which Freud had stumbled in his relationship with Fliess. There were the elements of intense--but safe--intimacy. There was, for John and for me, the experience of reaching deep into the unconscious--made possible by intense containment (a containment not just mediated through one other, but through the whole church, the community of saints). There were the hymns. The frequency of sex decreases with age, but if people's health and sexual self-esteem are good, age itself does not lead to a decrease in sexual desire.

And contrary to the familiar sexual boredom hypothesis, the length of a marriage does not predict a loss in either sexual desire or frequency, for men or women. In fact, evidence suggests that satisfaction with their sexual relationship tends to lead couples to be happy in their marriage, and that their marriages are more stable as a result. The causal arrow from sexual satisfaction to happiness in marriage appears to hold true for both men and women. So, sex continues to matter to a lot of couples, and desire doesn't go away. A subset of couples may agree that they don't want to be a sexual couple--though a subset of that subset might be in for an upsetting surprise when one or the other backs out of the agreement. Elsa and Mitch both knew that sex was important to them, but they hadn't yet figured out how to think outside the he-man conventions of male initiation to which they'd long adhered. Doing something different can feel frightening. People have their tried-and-true methods. The amazing thing about relationships, though, is that doing something different, even something small, can be big. They give up their freedom by following experts. The magic people who KNOW! Leaders, gurus, therapists, the holy and not so holy. It's not that the leaders are necessarily evil or corrupt. It's just that the followers surrender their uniqueness, freedom, and judgment for the sweet relief of having somebody else make their decisions. The concept of an expert is tempting. Imagine someone you could trust to handle things while you take it easy, like dropping off an automobile with mechanics for a little tune-up. Come back tomorrow afternoon and it's ready to go; and you never even have to bother looking under the hood. The experts did the whole thing. I first met Alan in 2001, when he was president of Boeing Commercial Aircraft, before he became the CEO of Ford Motor Company in 2006.

When Alan retired from Ford in 2014, Fortune magazine ranked him as the third-greatest leader in the world, behind Pope Francis and Angela Merkel. He and I are now working together to help both nonprofits and major companies develop great leadership teams. I have learned more from Alan than he has from me - in large part because I've had the opportunity to watch him apply some of the ideas we've discussed on a broad corporate canvas. No idea looms bigger in Alan's mind than the importance of structure in turning around an organization and its people. I believe that the Business Plan Review (BPR) process that he has developed is the most effective use of organizational structure that I have ever observed. In my years of coaching and research on change, I have learned one key lesson, which has near-universal applicability: We do not get better without structure. Alan doesn't merely believe in the value of structure; he lives it and breathes it. When Alan arrived at Ford he instituted weekly Thursday morning meetings, known as the Business Plan Review, or BPR, with his sixteen top executives and the executive's guests from around the world. There was the entrancing liturgy. There was, in short, a powerful surround of love. (Because we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, John would often say, quoting scripture. ) It's important to note here that we human beings seem to have some kind of radar for the precise situation that will heal us. I found John at just the right time in my life. He loved me, saw me, appreciated me, and was committed to my thriving. And I, likewise, was committed to his--as much as I could be as a late twenty-something. You will find the right situation, too--or at least your radar will go off when you get near it. Whether or not you can use it, is, of course, up to you. Almost any spouse who still has feelings for her partner is touched when her partner takes a risk.

The bravery of trying counts. With Elsa and Mitch, we worked on two fronts simultaneously. One was accepting the time-intensive and not necessarily rewarding aspects of parenting teenagers, something they each seemed to be avoiding--Mitch through his work and Elsa through her slightly hyperbolic need for attention. The other was helping them to move out of avoidance and toward exploration in sex. One of the more hopeful findings about the age-related shifts in sexuality is that men and women begin to approach sex on a more equal footing. Men can find that a less goal-driven model of sex creates a potential for more emotional connection, and more relaxed, whole-body sharing of pleasure. Women, who are used to variability in their sexual responses (i. e. , sometimes turned on, sometimes not), can put this awareness to empathetic use in accepting men's more variable sexual responses. It's so easy to believe that there's such a thing as EXPERTS - special humans who are part parent, part guardian angel and part dutiful servant. Get the right expert, the myth goes, and your worries are over. Let yourself slip into believing that and your life will be a sorry mess. It's as bad as waiting for the miracle cure. If you're in the habit of trusting experts, if you've convinced yourself that somebody else always has a better grip on what's happening than you do, please at least check out what kind of job the experts are doing for you. You might find that you could have directed the project yourself and done a better job. Don't automatically accept what the authorities say. Sure, they've probably got some very useful 61 ideas you ought to consider, but always check them out for yourself. If you say, Wake me when it's over, make sure you've done your best to understand what will happen while you're out. Not an unusual move (what CEO doesn't have meetings?

). But Alan had some rules that were new to Ford veterans. Attendance was mandatory; no exceptions (traveling executives participated by videoconference). No side discussions, no joking at the expense of others, no interruptions, no cell phones, no handing off parts of the presentation to a subordinate. Each leader was expected to articulate his group's plan, status, forecast, and areas that needed special attention. Each leader had a mission to help - not judge - the other people in the room. So far so good. Every new leader tries to break down the existing culture with new ways of doing old things. This is an essential point, and has, of course, been a theme throughout this article: Winnicott saw the patient as powerfully self-restorative. He believed that the patient himself shaped the analytic situation to provide the precise environmental features missed in childhood. The patient comes to the analytic situation looking for experiences necessary to revitalize the self, Mitchell and Black write, explaining Winnicott's work. The analyst offers himself to be used freely in providing the patient with missed experiences. In a sense, says Winnicott, the patient creates the analyst--that is to say, uses him in precisely the way that is needed. This highly targeted using, Mitchell and Black explain, enables the patient to rediscover her own capacity to imagine and fantasize, to generate experience that feels deeply real, personal, and meaningful. The analyst, the friend, the mirror thereby becomes the perfect new found object. Freud astutely described the essence of the healing relationship as a partnership. The analyst, writes Peter Gay, is, after all, a dependable partner--the listener shocked by no revelation, bored at no repetition, censorious of no wickedness. Like the priest in the confessional, he invites confidences; With age, women become more comfortable with expressing what they want sexually.