Vertical Development

“I Couldn’t Explain It. You Had to Experience It.”

I’ve been watching the Showtime series The Man Who Fell To Earth and I love how the show’s writers are using the alien Adept and Drone caste system as a social commentary for our own world. The Drone’s do what they’re told by the Adept who are the only one’s capable of creative thought and direction. For a comparison, Drones would be Kegan’s Socialized Mind, while Adepts would be Kegan’s Self-Transforming Mind.

During the show, the main character (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), who is a drone, comes to Earth to help his Adept master (played by Bill Nighy) who arrived on the planet some 40 years earlier. As the main character struggles to adapt though, he transforms and has to become more than a Drone. The scene above perfectly articulates the frustration of his experience (i.e. “Why didn’t you tell me?!”), as he talks to his Adept master, but also the necessity of feeling that frustration for his transformation to occur.

This moment perfectly articulates what so many people misunderstand about vertical development as a whole. Someone can tell you what a higher stage of development can be like and you can think you “know” it but you won’t fully understand what it truly means until you actually have to experience it. So you actually have to go through the challenge, the frustration, and even the pain to be able to break through to the other side.

Unfortunately the scene doesn’t fully play out in the video clip, as Bill Nighy as the Adept also says the following in the scene which perfectly describes the vertical development process.

Every step you’ve taken creates the next step you have to take. 

You can only be here as an official pain in my ass because you’ve reached a level of understanding. 

You used to imitate.

And now, thanks to me, you can generate.

BTW this reminds me of an amazing interview of Seth Godin by George Stroumboulopoulos in 2012 where Seth said most people aren’t prepared for the changes that are coming because our entire societal systems and mindset are defined on “doing what you’re told” (aka Drone / Socialized Mindset).

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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