Vertical Development

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.

By Nollind Whachell

Questing to translate Joseph Campbell's Hero’s Journey into The Player’s Handbook for The Adventure of Your Life, thus making vertical (leadership) development an accessible, epic framework for everyone.

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