Why Buy Matching Socks?

Posted by:

A therapist approached me the other day saying she was lost in uncertainty.  “I don’t know who I am anymore within the profession,” she said.  My initial response, “Good for you!  You’re one of the lucky ones.”

Now before people start throwing tomatoes my way, let me explain.  I’m well aware that uncertainty is not the most delightful of sensations.  However, I feel the alternative can be even more damaging.  Staying in your head or sticking to a pre-packaged plan is extremely limiting.  It can make you feel as if there is no way out.

Lao Tzu says, “The truth of you reveals itself in the moments when the imagination of you lets go.”

When I talk with people about my passion for change, I’m happy to discuss the small detail oriented changes.  I’ll share resources and offer step by step tactics that will add value to people’s work.  But my true passion lies with the kind of change Lao Tzu references.  Remarkable and inspiring change that comes from a place of letting go.

Consider a company known as Little Miss Matched.  They are perfectly comfortable in a sea of uncertainty.  And from this place they create an incredible product – Socks.

Are you excited yet?  I’m guessing no.  There aren’t too many things more “commodity oriented” than socks.  But you’ll get excited when you learn how Little Miss Matched views socks.  It’s inevitable.

First and foremost, the people at Little Missed Matched don’t see themselves as a sock company, they see themsleves as a creative company that challenges your view of reality.  Instead of offering the obvious and practical solution: a pair of socks, one for each foot, they wonder, “Why sell only two?  We’re going to sell three to a pack.” They’ll need to match of course.  “Do they?” Even their company name defies that rule.  “Why should they match?  In fact, wouldn’t it be exciting if they didn’t?  Wouldn’t that offer our customers more than just a warm pair of toes?”

This remarkable business takes a tired and worn out idea and turns it into something worth talking about.  They sell an experience, and in the process give their audience much more than they bargained for.

What I love about truly original ideas is they create space for something new to take hold.  They are somehow greater than what you and I see on the surface.

So where can you and I push the envelope?

“Why can’t we sell unmatched socks, three to a pack?”

Before you begin thinking about ALL the ethical, legal and best practice implications of this question for your profession, pause for a moment …. give the question some space.  You may find it evolves into something you’ve known all along.



  1. Gurpreet  April 20, 2010

    I liked your article and introduction to something very new but at the same time very old and wise. I love what Lao Tzu had to say just about anything. I am trying to bring same type of revolution in my thinking and metal health field. I write about quantum physics and counseling with Counseling blogs. Keep up the good work 🙂

  2. David  April 20, 2010

    Glad you enjoyed it and it sounds like you are doing some great things with your market niche. Please share your blog url with us!

  3. mansi  April 21, 2010

    I love your blog. I just started pvt. practice and followed many of your suggestions. It has been fruitful for me. I do try to think outside the box in my practice, often using interventions which are not mainstream. Sometimes they fail, but sometimes they work wonders. Thank you for this viewpoint!

  4. Brian Sullivan  April 21, 2010

    David, I liked especially your admonition, “Before you begin thinking about ALL the ethical, legal and best practice implications of this question for your profession, pause for a moment …. give the question some space.”

    I like it because evidently you, as I, have found that time and again, members of the mental health professions respond with a nearly-automatic, practically-compulsive “Oh, but THAT can’t be ethical/legal/looked-upon-favorably” sort of reaction to novel, creative approaches to care, business, or both.

    This reaction seems to reflect an implicit assumption that if they’ve never heard of it before or heard of anyone else’s doing it before, it must somehow be WRONG.

    But perhaps it’s more basic than that. Maybe that reaction reflects a fairly conservative self-selection bias in the mental health professions that is reinforced by a heavy dose of “do no harm” training that beats whatever creativity they might otherwise have, into frightened submission.

    I’m reminded of Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Perhaps in our case, “creativity” could be substituted there for “curiosity.”

    Kudos for continuing to help ignite curiousity and creativity in our professions, David.

  5. David  April 22, 2010

    Thanks Mansi and Brian. Appreciate all your thoughts! I love the Einstein quote! There may certainly be ideas or innovations that may be “out of bounds” for our field. All I’m asking is we ensure creative thought and reflection remain part of our process. You never know where it might take you, or how it might better serve our clients.

  6. Avrum  April 23, 2010

    David – it’s interesting. I stumbled upon your blog through another blog via a Google search, etc. In general, I’m a fan of Lynn Grodzki’s material. I took her telecourse and purchased her workbook. And yet, I’m on your blog. I don’t believe your offerings are much more unique than Lynn’s, but you do DO the Web 2.0 thing well… sorta like a rock n’ roll version of helping therapists market their practice. Perhaps that’s enough of a “3rd sock” to capture my attention.

    I need to spend more time thinking if my practice provides a “3rd sock”. If not, should I do anything about it.

    Thanks David. And thanks Seth for your bald head, and what’s in it.

  7. Elena  April 26, 2010

    I needed to read this article on so many levels it isn’t even funny. I am in love with 3rd socks now. My initial reaction was, of course, how ridiculous… until I watched the youtube video. This question speaks to every way I feel creatively blocked, every way I have felt frustrated as a working therapist, and everything I want to be able to offer my clients (and have in my own life). NOW… I think I’ll go out and buy your new book!

# #