Mapping & Integrating The Different Layers of My Work

While my last post revealed an entirely new approach to my work, there’s also something else I noticed emerging from it that I want to emphasize. Why it’s important is because it may also help explain why I’ve felt blocked in progressing further in the past.

It relates to something Dave Gray spoke about in his book Liminal Thinking about triangulation and how it helps you expand your perception, thus letting you perceive and understand things more clearly.

What will help is triangulation: the practice of developing multiple viewpoints and theories that you can compare, contrast, combine, and validate, to get a better understanding of what’s going on.

U.S. military strategist Roy Adams told me this story about an “aha” moment he had in Iraq.

He was having a beer with a friend who was in the Special Forces. Usually, they didn’t talk about work, but he happened to have a map with him. At the time, Adams and his team were designing their plans based on the political boundaries of the map, so on the map were districts, as well as the people who were in charge of the districts.

His friend said, “You know, this is really interesting.” And he picked up a pen and said, “Let me draw the tribal boundaries on this map for you.” The boundaries were completely different but overlapping. Suddenly, Adams had two different versions of reality on his map.

The political map was primarily a Shia map, and the tribal map had both Sunni and Shia. Only by overlaying the two maps did Adams start to understand the situation. Neither map would have made sense by itself.

By laying these maps over each other, suddenly things started to click. Now he understood why they were having success in some places and meeting resistance in others. Everything started to make more sense.

The insights in this case came not from one map or another, but through overlaying them. This is the practice of triangulation. Each map represented one theory of the world, one version of reality. It was only by viewing the situation through multiple perspectives—multiple theories—that he was able to gain insight and see the situation differently.

Dave Gray, Liminal Thinking

What this is describing is the exact same thing that I’ve been noticing and experiencing over the past couple of decades. In effect, I’m seeing three different versions of reality which when they are collectively combined help me to perceive and understand reality as a whole in a much deeper way.

Three Versions of Reality
  • The Practical World
  • The Future of Work World
  • Life As An MMORPG World

At first, I was just see the practice world of work and all the frustrations that were arising from it. As I began to explore and research new ways of working, I found knowledge about The Future of Work. But while researching this knowledge, I started noticing similarities to my past work building communities around video games and noticed how MMORPGs were metaphorically describing the larger narrative of The Future of Work.

Now here’s where I hit a wall and I kept going around in circles for quite some time. I basically kept trying to figure out which perspective and version of reality I should be using for my work because they seemed so divergent with one another (especially the MMORPG perspective). So the entire time, I was looking at these multiple perspectives as a multiple choice that I had to select only one of, kind of like having different ideas in the divergent phase of your work and then having to decide which one to pursue in the convergent phase of your work.

It was only by viewing the situation through multiple perspectives—multiple theories—that he was able to gain insight and see the situation differently.

Dave Gray

In reality though, it’s not about choosing one perspective or the other but about overlaying and integrating them all, as Dave Gray noted above. What’s even more amazing about this is that it also directly correlates with what Dave Gray described before as taking a head, heart, and hands approach to communicating something clearly, especially when trying to assist people through change.

All that said and done though, the primary issue I’m having with this approach is that I often get dizzy and overwhelmed switching between these different perspectives and versions of reality because I’m still trying to organize this all out within my head. Thus until I can get it out of my head and map it all out, showing how the three overlapping layers relate to one another, I’ll never be able to effectively communicate this “bigger picture” of my work.

What’s important about this as well is that it’s essential for the newer intention and approach I mentioned in my last post. In effect, if Life is an MMORPG, we effectively need some way of mapping our journey and adventures because it helps show our progression, helping us to understand where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re going. Without this mapping capability, the ability to visualize our progression become extremely difficult.

One last thought though, which relates to another fear about uncertainty. For me to work through this, I have to be willing to let things really get messy and chaotic at first. So again letting go of this need or desire of everything fitting perfectly into alignment as I drop each piece down like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Reality is much more complex than that.

Actually that reminds me of something I remember reading about how people at the latter, more advanced stages of development (i.e. self-transforming mind) have gained the ability to zoom in and out between the practical and the visionary almost effortlessly. Thus they aren’t locked into one perspective (i.e. CEO) or version of reality (i.e. level of consciousness) but can shift between them to understand the deeper reality of a situation.

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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