Today’s Tower of Babel With Different “Languages” of Meaning

It is also work I believe is crucial in understanding our world with full of strife and clashes among different world views. Knowing about developmental differences can shed light on why some of these conflicts are so intractable and longstanding, and it invites compassion and hope

All major change can create anxiety as we are habit creatures. Growth includes the unknown, sometimes intimated to some degree, other times utterly unimaginable. While possibly exciting, stage change is also likely accompanied with considerable discomfort, pain, losses, and uncertainty. Most aspects of living include relationship to other people – people who may be attached to the familiar way we were and who wish us to remain familiar. Moreover, our own strongly held values have to be renegotiated when we enter a new view of reality. In the extreme, we can say that with each transformation we are actually entering a new reality with its own rules, laws, and language.

Susanne Cook-Greuter, Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace in Ego Development

Never before in human history have we had people operating from so many different paradigms all living alongside each other.

Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations

What this is trying to highlight is that we are effectively living a present day Tower of Babel but instead of everyone speaking different national languages (i.e. English, French, etc), people are all speaking different languages of meaning.

This actually amplifies the confusion in our world today because when someone speaks a national language you haven’t learnt, it’s immediately apparent that you can’t understand it. With a language of meaning though, I may say the word “leadership” in a conversation with you but you may misinterpret the meaning of it as something completely different. Thus the misinterpretation doesn’t become apparent unless the meaning of the word “leadership” is actually brought up and discussed in detail within the conversation.

BTW this is also why The Future of Work is so confusing and often misunderstood by people. It’s because they think it’s just more of the same type of work but with newer technologies. It’s not. Yes, there are newer technological innovations but it’s really the social innovations of it that will require a radical leap in our thinking to understand it correctly.

So as I noted above, “leadership” is no longer seen as a strong, controlling individual telling others what to do. Instead, “leadership” is seen as more of a collective attribute of the organization which requires everyone to take leadership and contribute in different ways. So work becomes less command and control and more symbiotic and self-organizing in nature.

For those who are used to just sitting back and being told what to do though, this can be very unsettling because it requires them to discover an intrinsic sense of motivation within themselves, rather than relying upon an extrinsic sense of motivation previously dictated by someone else.

BTW this is also why I kind of laugh at the absurdity of the “wars” being waged online right now between the political left and right. They’re effectively missing the bigger picture of how our differences are really more psychological in nature based upon our current needs and values. So I no longer see left or right, democrat or republican anymore but just people at different stages of development trying to meet their current needs.

And that, if anything, is why there is so much strife in the world, especially within our own supposed “First World” nations. In effect, until we can actually start caring about people’s basic needs to survive and how they are no longer being met by today’s outdated systems of work, they won’t have the potential to learn how to thrive and grow in the process, contributing to our society in greater ways beyond what we currently know.


Overcoming Complex Paradoxes to Rebuild Trust

I assumed we could trust the government and each other during the pandemic. I was wrong.
I am hopeful that our government will have our best interest. I am hopeful that things will get better.

I want to trust institutions like the CDC, my governor, my mayor and the White House. I want these institutions to put the needs of all Americans in front of the desires of CEOs to make more money.

Like my mother, I want our leaders and our communities to work past their flaws and do what’s best for us all. They don’t need to be perfect. They just need to be better.

The problem with this statement is that it assumes everyone is perceiving reality in the same way. It should be clearly evident by now, based upon all of the conflicts arising around how best to handle the pandemic, that we are not perceiving reality in the same way. Therefore, my “needs” and what I perceive as “what’s best for all” may be completely different than yours, even contradictory.

While this may be exceeding difficult for a lot of people to comprehend, it’s a basic premise of vertical development in that people psychologically develop at different stages and therefore their needs and what they value will differ from others at different stages.

Even more so, when levelling up to a new stage, a person’s perspective of reality often goes through a paradigm shift, causing it to radically pivot or u-turn 180 degrees, thus seeming almost contradictory to their perspective before.

For example, one of the most dominant paradigm shifts that people go through as they move beyond the conventional stages of development is perceiving their livelihood of work as so important, it gets put above everything else. This is because conventional stages focus on trying to meet our basic needs to survive.

While this might seem to make perfect sense, since we obviously need to make money to survive, where this starts causing conflicts is when our livelihood of work starts literally impacting our life. Some examples of this could be a blue collar worker working in a toxic factory with chemicals or a white collar worker working in a toxic culture due to a narcissistic boss. In both cases, these people are literally having their lives cut short by their livelihoods.

When we take this understanding and raise it to a societal level though, that’s when conflicts really start getting heated. You effectively have people at conventional stages saying their needs to have a job are more important than how that job affects them or others. So when a climate activist tells a coal or gas worker that their industry is killing people and the planet, that worker can literally not comprehend what the activist is talking about, even thinking that they are delusional because their livelihood is effectively their life and it comes first.

We’re also seeing the same thing happening with the pandemic but in a slightly different way. Again conventional stages focus on survival by meeting their economic needs but also by wanting to fit in and belong in a social sense. So not only is the pandemic making it difficult to meet their economic needs due to work faltering but it’s making it difficult for people to meet their needs of belonging because they can’t work face-to-face with others.

For a lot of people at conventional stages, this can be overwhelming for them, making them feel like they are being pulled apart, because they may recognize the severity of the life challenge before them (ie the pandemic can kill people) but they also recognize that their basic needs need to be met as well. To get around and ease the discomfort of having to deal with two conflicting beliefs, the person will change one of their beliefs or add another belief to outweigh one. So an anti-vaxxer will disbelieve that the coronavirus is harmful to them because they’re healthy, thus easing this psychological tension and discomfort that they’re feeling.

So is the answer just to force people at conventional stages to just “shut up and do what their told” because they don’t have the awareness and psychological maturity to understand the complexity of the wicked problems arising in our world today (similar to a child being unable to comprehend complicated things)? I don’t think it’s an easy answer because you have to look at the world we’ve made and how it’s contributing to and amplifying the problem.

Simply put, conventional stages normally do “trust” their leaders and institutions, doing what they’re told to do. But today we’re living in a world where many people at conventional stages are having their basic needs continually eroded by society itself. For example, blue collar work has degraded and disappeared over the decades, with steel and automotive industries once being the backbone of work, yet they’ve almost completely disappeared now.

Today we have many people who are often homeless and without jobs, thus unable to meet their economic needs, but also they are devalued by society as having no value, and thus they aren’t meeting their needs of belonging either. No wonder these conventional people don’t feel like “trusting” institutional leaders who effectively have made them feel like outcasts in their own country and society.

So it’s not a question so much of forcing people at conventional stages to “shut up and do what their told” but rather more about we need our leaders to seriously level up, so they can start seeing and recognizing the value of these people where they are at (at their level). For example, in Alberta, a province primarily focused on oil and gas, new geothermal stations are being built that make use of the existing skills of oil and gas rig workers to build them.

This is amazing because it helps people at conventional stages to shift to newer but familiar work that still makes them feel valued and belonging to a society that still cares about them and their contributions to it. And that in turn will make them feel like they can trust the leaders who are valuing and caring for them. I mean isn’t this the same crisis in our business world right now, with people feeling disposable and without any long term value, thus why should they be loyal or trust business leaders who aren’t loyal and caring in return?


The Adventure From Self-Centered to Centered Self

I stumbled across this quote the other day and noticed how perfectly it accompanies the “adventure” of being nobody-but-yourself, whereby one day we discover our inner compass pulling at the heart of our Self, helping us to see and realize that we are so much more than what we thought we were.

Most of us pride ourselves on the fact that we are unique individuals with our own ideas, opinions, beliefs, values, attitudes, goals, aspirations, sentiments, preferences and so forth. But if we scratch the surface a little we find that most or all of what we pride ourselves on as our own is what we have learnt or inherited — genetically from our parents and ancestors, socially from our upbringing and education, socially and culturally from the society we live in, intellectually from the prevailing ideas and beliefs of the times in which we live. Where is our real individuality in all of these?

This raises a more fundamental question: ‘What does it really mean to be an individual?’ Clearly our manners and behaviors which we learn from those around us do not qualify us. Nor do our character traits and values which we inherit from our family and society. Nor do our thoughts and opinions which we acquire mainly from other people. Then what does?

To be an individual means to shift the center of reference from outside to inside. It means that we should consciously formulate and choose our thoughts, opinions, beliefs, values and attitudes rather than simply accept what others think, feel and belief to be true and right. To be a real individual is to discover the inner center of reference, to draw guidance from inside. It also means not to rely on or depend on others to support us or solve our problems. It means to be self-reliant.

Most of all, to be an individual one must be free. Not free from outer constraints but free from mental, emotional and psychological conditioning. Free to think and do what is true and right, not just what other people think and do. Free to take risks and court adventure, not bound by a need for safety and security. To be an individual is to discover the freedom of the soul and express it in life.

Individuality is often confused with being self-centered, preoccupied with our own lives, selfish and insisting on our own way. But selfishness is only egoism. A true individual can be generous, selfless and dedicated to the welfare of others. He or she can follow others or defer to their wishes out of magnanimity rather than subservience. The true individual has no need to dominate or assert. A true individual thinks of others rather than his own needs, listens to others rather than feeling the compulsion to instruct, gives to others rather than wanting to receive.

Strategies for Psychological Growth

Expect The Unexpected

I remember telling someone once that when your world changes, it will feel like gravity is gone and you won’t know which way is up.

For the past year, I’ve been experiencing this in increasing detail, as at times even mundane and trivial aspects of reality will surprise me and do something unexpected. This is happening with such frequency now that I’m expecting one day to pour hot water into my tea cup, only to see it pour up towards the ceiling instead of down into my cup.

Without a doubt, what this is obviously communicating to me is that the stable world we once knew, expected, and depended upon is slowly disappearing, to be replaced by an uncertain and unexpected world instead.

The question of how we choose to respond to these changes is up to us. Do we become fearful and even angry? Or do we become exhilarated and marvel at the unexpected wonders before us, wondering what they mean and how we can learn from them?

One thing is for sure though. We are now living within a world where we will need to start expecting the unexpected.


Reimagining Purposeful Work That Let’s Us Play With Possibilities

Employees who quit have realized this 1 missing thing about their job
Before your employee gives notice, they’ve likely made this personal realization about their sense of security.

According to a recent McKinsey study, one of top reasons people are resigning has nothing to do with compensation, work–life balance, or mental health. One of the top reasons people have resigned is they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work. And those employees from historically marginalized communities are more likely to say they left because they didn’t feel like they belonged in their organizations.

It’s not the Great Resignation; it’s the “Great Awakening.” Individuals are waking up to the realization that they deserve to be in organizations that respect and support them. Many leaders are busy chasing diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, and wanting to increase the diversity of representation on their teams. Yet those same leaders must be equally focused on ensuring all individuals feel like they have a place in their organizations.

These things actually do relate to mental health though because mental health relates to a sense of well-being which includes have a sense of meaning and purpose in one’s life. Thus if people don’t feel truly valued and connected to something larger than themselves that they’re working on and contributing to, their life is going to feel pretty meaningless and purposeless.

This is why I believe that organizations will have to adapt and become places not just for work but for learning and even play. And by play, I don’t mean something frivolous. I mean play at a higher conceptual level, whereby one is imagining possibilities far beyond the conventional and is given the freedom to explore those possibilities.

That’s what limiting our current world of work and our current possibilities. It’s outdated beliefs that are standing in the way of us, similar to the way most people feel like they spend most of their day having to work around their boss to actually get things done.

The need for innovation – the lifeblood of business – is widely recognized, and imagination and play are key ingredients for making it happen.

John Seely Brown

Work Isn’t Working For Us Anymore But Rather Against Us

4.3 Million Workers Are Missing. Where Did They Go?
The U.S. labor shortage has hit low-paying service industries especially hard, pushing companies to adapt. Many economists expect the shortage to last years, and some think it could be permanent.

Workers are quitting at or near the highest rates on record in sectors such as manufacturing, retail, and trade, transportation and utilities, as well as professional and business services.

Many expect the labor shortage to last at least several more years, and some say it’s permanent. Of 52 economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, 22 predicted that participation would never return to its pre-pandemic level.

“Our problem is not an economy that doesn’t want to get started—it’s already started,” said Ron Hetrick, an economist at labor analytics firm Emsi Burning Glass. “It just doesn’t have people to make the engine run. We don’t know how to reignite this thing right now.”

Just a wild guess but maybe treat people like human beings rather exploitive assets. When there’s a definitive noticed shift in people feeling like human beings again at work, they will spread the word to others and there will be noticeable return. Until employer’s mindset actually change though in terms of how they perceive and treat their employees, not much will change.

“Work—for me, at least—just wasn’t working for our family anymore,” said Stephanie Schaefer, a 36-year-old mother of two in Riverside, Calif.

Pretty much how I’ve summed up the current concept of work, at least in the conventional sense. Work is no longer working for people. It’s actually working against them and their sense of well-being. So until it changes and realigns with their humanity, not much will change.

“Two years ago I was thinking, I want to get as high as I can on the corporate ladder,” he said. “It just interests me less now if it comes with a sacrifice to my mental health and my connection with my family.”


Adaptive Generalization Through Bridged Specialization

‘Small Data’ Is Also Crucial for Machine Learning
The most promising AI approach you’ve never heard of doesn’t need to go big

Also known as “fine-tuning,” transfer learning is helpful in settings where you have little data on the task of interest but abundant data on a related problem. The way it works is that you first train a model using a big data set and then retrain slightly using a smaller data set related to your specific problem.

Another way of thinking about the value of transfer learning is in terms of generalization. A recurring challenge in the use of AI is that models need to “generalize” beyond their training data—that is, to give good “answers” (outputs) to a more general set of “questions” (inputs) than what they were specifically trained on. Because transfer learning models work by transferring knowledge from one task to another, they are very helpful in improving generalization in the new task, even if only limited data were available.

While this article focuses on machine learning, this same technique works for humans and I’m assuming it was created for machines (AI) to replicate the human ability.

The key thing for this to work though is that the data has to be related in some way. The beauty with humans though is that the relatability can be created from a creative “weak link” which means it will probably only appears relatable to that specific person, based upon their own constructed “space of possibilities” within their mind (see Beau Lotto’s work).

But that’s exactly why it seems creative and innovative to others because they can’t see the connections that bridge the gap between these two things, thus making them relatable.

The whole point of this though is that it shows how we can all adapt in the future and discover work outside our normal domains of knowledge, by seeming similar patterns and principles they transfer between them.

Of course, the only major thing preventing this from happening is people’s biases disbelieving the person’s capacity for the work because they are approaching it from an unconventional angle than the status quo is approaching it.

In fact, as many articles have highlighted recently, this is why many great job candidates are never ever seen by employers because they don’t fit into the limited filter set defined by the job and thus are often filtered out. So exactly the same way people’s biases filter out the potential and possibility of someone being able to do something.


Cultivating Truly “Connected” Workplaces

Mental Health Days Won’t Solve The Great Resignation
Burnout is often framed as the root cause of the Great Resignation, but mental health is only part of the picture. Instead, the Great Resignation is fundamentally rooted in a broken culture of work, and it’s on employers—not employees—to fix it.

The Great Resignation should come at no surprise. In fact, it’s been long overdue. Before the pandemic, leaders of the “Talent War” equipped themselves with trendy workplace perksfrom beer on-tap, to meditation booths, to… surprise trips to Vegas? But amidst the transition to remote work and ongoing global crises, these bells and whistles have lost their luster. Workers are now reevaluating their experience of work itself and seriously reconsidering their jobs as a result.

Burnout is often framed as the root cause to this Great Resignation, but mental health is only part of the picture. Mind Share Partners recently published our 2021 Mental Health at Work Report in partnership with Qualtrics and ServiceNow—a follow-up study to our 2019 Report. From our research, we’ve found that the issue with the Great Resignation is less about mental health. Instead, it’s fundamentally rooted in a broken culture of work.

The Great Resignation isn’t driven by the mental health of employees—it’s driven by employers themselves. Research has long shown that poorly managed workplace factors can cause diagnosable mental health conditions. In our study, 84% of respondents reported at least one workplace factor that negatively impacted their mental health in the past yearmost commonly, emotionally draining work, which was also a workplace factor most commonly reported as having worsened since the pandemic.

We’re at a junction point. Employers must move beyond individualistic approaches to mental health and address the foundational elements of work that have long been left unresolved from work-life balance and flexibility, to a sense of feeling valued and connected, to how an organization’s culture helps—or hurts—the individual employee. And the solution has to work for all of us. Many historically underrepresented and disenfranchised groups still continue to face social, structural, and safety challenges at work. Significant investments in and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice are all necessary to bring about meaningful change for true mental health equity.

Ultimately, the Great Resignation isn’t a problem for employees to solve, nor cope through. It’s a problem for employers to decide for themselves how much they value their people.

Pretty much spot on. In effect, employers need to stop denying the reality of the workplace that they’ve helped to cultivate. They can change it, with the collaboration of their employees, if they have the courage to do so.


Disbelieving Something Doesn’t Make It Not Real

It’s bizarre to see a Covid patient deny Covid exists while gasping for breath | ICU nurse
We’ve cared for people in their 20s and 30s, and that has been confronting – most of my colleagues are the same age

An article that corresponds with what I said earlier about cognitive dissonance as being why most anti-vaxxers and Covid deniers are thinking and acting the way they are. In effect, completely denying reality, not wanting to believe it or accept it, because they can’t cope with the death and grief of their old way of life and old sense of self-identity.

It’s strange seeing a team that is competent and confident come into a shift with an air of uncertainty, but it’s not as strange as caring for a Covid patient who does not believe Covid exists.

It’s bizarre to watch an individual chastise the nurses and doctors about Covid being fake as they sit on the floor gasping for air while a cytokine storm roars in their lungs. The time between each word is drawn out while they are trying to draw in as many breaths as they can. “Would you like the oxygen back on, sir?” a nurse will inquire after another failed escape. They accept our help back to their room. Regain their breath with help from the oxygen. And then the escape plotting starts all over again. Another patient who was on a ventilator kept telling us Covid wasn’t real after they regained consciousness.

As frustrating as it is, this is not as uncommon as you would hope. A few people are too far down the false information rabbit hole that there isn’t any point trying to convince them otherwise. Heads and brick walls and all that. There’s a name for this condition they share: cognitive dissonance. This is how conflicting information is perceived. A lot of people who are on the cusp of being antivaxxers or Covid deniers are simply undecided because they don’t know what to believe.

It’s really, really sad to read this. I know in my own family, I’ve had some consistently say in the past “Oh, I don’t believe in that” when I talked about something that conflicted with their beliefs. It got so bad that in 2019, a year before the pandemic, I actually said “Mother Nature doesn’t care what you believe.” How prophetic those words seem today.


Misconceptions From Wrong Perceptions & Limiting Beliefs

Misconceptions about science fuel pandemic debates and controversies, says Neil deGrasse Tyson

Schools should teach science as an evolving process — not a series of hard facts, argues astrophysicist

This article pretty much confirms what I said before about how many people are misunderstanding the meaning of things today because they have the wrong perception of things.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says some of the bitter arguments about medicine and science during the COVID-19 pandemic can be blamed on a fundamental misunderstanding of science.

“People were unwittingly witnessing science at its very best.… [They said,] ‘You told me not to wear a mask a month ago and now you tell me [to] wear it.… You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Yes, we do,” the American astrophysicist and author told The Sunday Magazine host Piya Chattopadhyay.

Misconceptions about how science works stems in part, he said, from the fact that it’s often improperly taught at the earliest levels of education.

“People think science is the answer. ‘Oh, give me the answer. You’re a scientist. What’s the answer?’ And then I say things like: ‘We actually don’t have an answer to that.’ And people get upset. They even get angry. ‘You’re a scientist. You should know,'” he explained.

“What’s not taught in school is that science is a way of learning what is and is not true. The scientific method is a way of ensuring that your own bias does not leave you thinking something is true that is not, or that something is not true that is.”

If anything, we should be taught in school how we perceive reality. That we’re not seeing reality directly but with psychological “lenses” that filter and distort what we’re seeing based upon our beliefs.

For example, the mentioning above of “not to wear a mask and then to wear a mask” ties into a conventional belief that if someone changes their mind, it shows they’re not honest and not to be trusted. And yet growth and development at its very core is about changing your beliefs and values, as well as the way you perceive yourself and your world.

So if you believed that people should never change their minds, you would be fostering an environment and culture where no growth or development occurs. You’d want everyone to stay as they are and never change.

But alas, for some people, that’s actually what they want. They want time to stand still, what they know to be enough, and for things to remain permanent as they are.

Yet again that’s the opposite of life and nature itself which is embodied by constant change. The problem is that we’ve been extremely fortunate to live within such a highly stable time frame, that we assume and belief that this is what reality is like all the time.

It’s not. It’s constant change. And without a doubt, over the decades to come, we’ll probably see more change, more often, than some of us have ever seen throughout our entire lives.

And I have no doubt, that in the near future, science will probably have a major breakthrough that will completely redefine our reality and what we believe as a whole, similar to the radical shift that Copernicus had when he realized the Sun was the center of the solar system and not the Earth (which was considered heretical and blasphemous during his time).