Vertical Development

Seeing The Great Resignation Within The Great Arc of Life

Something has shifted within me the last few days that is making me consider doing a complete pivot with regards to how I approach my work and market myself. It arose after reading an extensive article that was written by McKinsey & Company in 2022 that talks about The Great Resignation (aka Great Attrition, Great Renegotiation) and the new talent pools arising from it.

While the paper was an amazing read (because it highlighted how workers are not just quitting jobs but they’re quitting entire industries to move to other ones), what really caught my attention was the latter part of it. It describes how the current workforce talent pool has splintered and becoming more complex by shifting into two primary groups: traditionalists and non-traditionalists. When reading this, I was basically dumbstruck because what it was describing sounded very similar to the difference between Socialized Minds and Self-Authoring Minds as described by Robert Kegan’s work.

For example, while it broke down non-traditionalists into four personas (i.e. Do-It-Yourselfers, Caregivers, Idealists, Relaxers) of different age groups, a common characteristic of these people is that they seem to be all valuing more freedom, autonomy, flexibility, and purpose in their work, not too mention wanting a greater focus on their health and well-being in their career development. In comparison, traditionalists often aren’t willing to strive or bargain for these things because they’re more risk-averse, thus they’re happy with just having a decent salary, good job title, and status at their company.

To understand the shift that’s occurring here in greater detail, it helps to focus on the values that people feel like they need to progress further in their work and development (as noted by this quote from the article below).

To navigate this new playing field successfully, hiring managers can look beyond the current imbalance in labor supply and demand and consider what different segments of workers want and how best to engage them. 

To do this, employers should understand the common themes that reveal what people most value, or most dislike, about a job. For instance, it cannot be overstated just how influential a bad boss can be in causing people to leave. And while in the past an attractive salary could keep people in a job despite a bad boss, that is much less true now than it was before the pandemic. Our survey shows that uncaring and uninspiring leaders are a big part of why people left their jobs, along with a lack of career development. Flexibility, on the other hand, is a top motivator and reason for staying

Why this is important is that it directly correlates with vertical development and how our values change as we “level up” our consciousness and move from one stage of development to another. Richard Barrett has an awesome chart that shows this in greater detail below. Not only does it show the newer positive values one desires as they level up, it also shows the limiting values at lower levels that one is looking to step away from. Note how this corresponds with what people are looking for within organizations right now and what they wish to avoid in companies now (often represented by potentially toxic leaders and culture).

Levels of Consciousness, Barrett Academy for the Advancement of Human Values

And what’s most remarkable of all is how this chart and its attributes correlate with what I said above about how traditionalists are like Socialized Minds and non-traditionalists are like Self-Authoring Minds. In effect, traditionalists as Socialized Minds would be those who have reached level 3 (recognition, self-esteem) above. In comparison, non-traditionalists as Self-Authoring Minds would be those who have stepped beyond level 3 and are now desiring the values associated with level 4 (freedom, autonomy) and 5 (meaning).

This is why this extensive article seems so profound to me. For the longest time, I’ve been harping that we need to help people to “level up” their consciousness, awareness, and perception, thus enabling us to collectively tackle the more complex issues arising within our world today. But what’s happening here is almost the reverse. The increasing complexities and challenges within the world of work are causes people to seriously question the way that work works and making them desire to “level up” and strive for something better.

To put it another way, I believed my challenge before was trying to make people understand the deeper complexities and paradoxes of vertical development. What if it isn’t? What if my work is simply making people aware of the vertical development that is going on all around them and within their lives already? In doing so, it can help them to see a larger context and framework to life that they can begin to navigate with beyond their current limited frameworks or mindsets that often don’t describe what’s off the unknown, uncertain edge of their worldview and beyond the horizon of their mind.

By Nollind Whachell

From playing within imaginary worlds to imagining a world of play.

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