Vertical Development

Going Beyond Knowledge?

Boom! Mind blown.

In using a new reading technique tonight to get a better understanding of the book Indirect Work by Carol Sanford, I finally broke through a barrier I wasn’t grasping until now.

Indirect development work is about going beyond knowledge.

Development, in other words, is not the same thing as training or knowledge transfer, which are direct ways of working. Development works on our ability to be awake with regard to ourselves, and this is inherently indirect.

Carol Sanford

Here’s some quotes that touch upon this below, first from Chapter 7, which emphasizes how our focus on knowledge actually fragments us from seeing living wholes. And I have to say, her use of the words “aggregate” and “integrate” did immediately make me think of personal knowledge management and building a Second Brain.

Such efforts to integrate multiple, diverse needs and bodies of knowledge are a hallmark of good design and can certainly lead to more sophisticated, holistic solutions and policies. But the process of accretion of information and action, no matter how comprehensive, will never on its own generate the shift in perspective that allows us to engage with a living whole. If anything, the tendency to aggregate and integrate only serves to reinforce the problems associated with fragmentation. This is because it derives its raw materials from the underlying practice of breaking things down into parts in order to understand them before attempting to reassemble them into something that makes sense.

And here are a few more quotes from Chapter Eight which show how her knowledge acquisition early in her life didn’t help her as much as what she calls resourcing does now, which is about tapping into your inner knowledge.

In the tumultuous time in my life when I was newly married and a student at Berkeley, I found myself in over my head. It had finally dawned on me that I didn’t know everything and that perhaps I didn’t really even know myself. I had always thought that learning was about mastering content—acquiring knowledge and the skills to put it to use. But as a student at Berkeley, I became increasingly aware that I didn’t know how to observe and manage my own thinking process, and that this was far more important than the content of my thinking.

Since that time, I’ve organized much of my life and work around the insight that real change comes when we engage consciously with our own mental processes. Along the way, I’ve become aware of the importance of what I call resourcing, which works on awakening in people their capacity for critical thinking and agency with regard to growing and expressing their personal potential.

Resourcing is not mentoring or coaching, both of which assume some kind of superior knowledge. Resourcing is not telling people what to do or guiding them into a better pattern of behavior or performance. Resourcing assumes that the potential to know lies within the individual and that what is needed is to awaken their thirst and discipline to find knowledge within themselves.

If I’m not mistaken, what I think she’s referring to here is an innate sense of wisdom. It’s weird and hard to describe but I think I understand what she’s getting at because in looking back upon my life tonight, I keep seeing these moments, like even in the mid 1990s when I was only 30 years old, where I was doing things intuitively in the online communities I was creating that I wouldn’t fully understand logically until a decade later when I was researching organizational development. Like I just trusted myself and my intuition guided me (although being in a playful space helped a lot).

If I’m also not mistaken, this definition sounds very familiar to triple-loop learning (i.e. “Triple Loop Learning gets to the core of things: our purpose, the values that guide us, and so on”) which I’ll check my research on it again later.

All said and done though, I’m not too sure PKM fans would take kindly to her work. They’d probably disbelieve it outright.

In terms of myself, I definitely want to go deeper down this rabbit hole.

By Nollind Whachell

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

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