Vertical Development

The Fear & Uncertainty of Not Knowing Everything

Oh my god! This is a hilarious! I just remembered a realization I had some time ago that relates to my last post about how thinking we know everything often blinds us from growth and development.

My greatest fear in stepping forward into my life’s work, and truly owning it and accepting it, is not knowing everything and thus being unable to provide “all the answers” that people may need relating to my work.

To put this another way, my very mindset and perception of what I need to be “successful” is a wrong perception of reality that’s actually impeding me from my own growth and causing me to suffer in my life, because I feel like I’m stuck in place.

Therefore to step forward and out of the way of myself (my ego), what I need to do is not avoid this but actually embrace it and leverage it as something that can help me going forward in my work. Why this is hilarious is because it actually describes the traits of leaders at the highest plateau of adult development, as pictured below, whereby leaders with Self-Transforming Minds are “leading to learn.”

Robert Kegan’s Three Plateaus of Adult Development

In effect, leaders with Self-Transforming Minds don’t have all the right answers. They are instead the ones asking all the right questions.

This is pretty much why I’ve been unable to step into this plateau and realm of perceiving because my outdated mindset and perception is preventing me from understanding how it works differently as a whole, even though I’ve mapped and seemingly understood pieces of this terrain over the last decade or so.

Simply put, for me to truly step into this space, I actually need to live and embody the values of it in my very work. In doing so, only then will I be able to step beyond all of my “monstrous” fears and effectively “slay” them (as per Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey). Effectively as a whole, this means meeting my base needs of 1) economically surviving by doing my own unique work, 2) truly accepting the belonging of my core Self (as per Brene Brown’s True Belonging), and 3) finally satisfying my need for respect and recognition by truly doing something of deep value to others.

While I’ve been aware of these base needs for a while, I just couldn’t figure out the correct context and intention for my work to try to “package” it as a whole…because I’ve been trying to contain it within an outdated approach which never seems to eloquently fit these newer concepts, ideas, and methods. This newer, broader perspective may finally provide me with a larger space of possibilities to contain everything I’ve wanted, in a way that may finally make sense on so many levels.

Vertical Development

The Suffering Certainty of Knowing Everything

I just realized something today that relates to what Carol Sanford said about trying to share the understanding of her work to other people in her book Indirect Work.

The number one thing impeding people from their own growth and development is their assumption that they know everything already (which is why they often listen to just affirm their own beliefs).

This in turn relates to a question I had a very long time ago about trying to help people in corporate environments but without much success. “How can you help someone who doesn’t want your help?”

The reason you can’t help them and they don’t want your help is because they think they know everything and have it all figured out already. In other words, they don’t realize that their own belief that they have everything figured out is in itself a misperception that is causing them suffering.

It’s only when someone goes through that repeated suffering and finally realizes they haven’t got everything figured out and actually asks for help…or at the very least steps back from their beliefs and begin to question them…that they can begin to grow and develop again.

That said though, I think our world is going to go through a whole lot more suffering before people begin to wake up and realize that they’re belief that they have everything figured out is the main reason why their world(view) is collapsing in the first place.

Vertical Development

Life Is A Game We Can’t Help But Play

The One Thing Everybody Wants and How To Win The Game We Play To Get It

Science shows that people’s well-being consistently depends upon the degree to which they felt respected by others. That’s status, and it’s more important to people’s happiness than family or money.

Life is a game. There’s no way to understand the human world without first understanding this. Everyone alive is playing a game whose hidden rules are built into us and that silently directs our thoughts, beliefs and actions. This game is inside us. It is us. We can’t help but play.

We play for status, if only subtly, with every social interaction, every contribution we make to work, love or family life and every internet post. We play with how we dress, how we speak and what we believe. Life is not a journey towards a perfect destination. It’s a game that never ends. And it’s the very worst of us.

This fits quite closely in with my last post about finding deeper meaning in life beyond our base needs, with “status” (aka recognition, self-esteem) being our highest base need that we value (as shown in Level 3 of the chart below) but with which it can have limiting values associated with it (i.e. arrogance, pride, superiority) that can bring out the “worst of us” as well.

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

But we need to realize that what’s gotten us here, may not get us to where we want to be in the future. That’s because each “level” of the game is like a whole new game in a whole new reality, kind of like a psychological multiverse.

So gaining “status” will only get you so far. You’ve got to go much further if you really want to understand the deeper game and the deeper treasure at the core of it.

It’s not about “winning” or “losing.” It’s about going beyond zero-sum games and seeing the bigger picture, the bigger arc to life, within the infinite game.

Vertical Development

How Fearful Addictions Blind Us From Finding Deeper Meaning

For the past couple of years, I’ve been increasingly feeling detached from certain things to the point that they feel meaningless or irrelevant to my life, whereas before they may have provided a lot of joy to it. At first I was concerned why I was feeling this way but recently I’ve come to the realization that this is a natural part of the process of my ongoing transformation and transition to a larger sense of Self.

The best way I can describe this is something Beau Lotto said within his book Deviate.

…if you want to go from A to B, then you must actively engage with the world. But the first step to get to B is to go from A to not-A. To be in not-A is to be in uncertainty, to experience the stimulus without the requisite meaning of the past. The key is to choose to look away from the meanings we have been layering onto stimuli. Stop your reflexive response with awareness… as one can do when one is able to see the cause of a reflex.

Beau Lotto

Basically this detachment I’m feeling is the process of me going from “A to not A.” It’s me stepping away from things in my life because they aren’t provide any substantial meaning to it like they used to (kind of like how people are stepping away from the old concept of “work” today, as it’s not providing the meaning it used to provide). But what’s strange is that instead of “looking way from the meanings,” I’m actually 1) seeing them for what they are, 2) seeing how they helped me in the past, but 3) realizing that they are no longer enough for me to move forward on my journey.

Two examples of this are movies and video games.

I used to love watching movies voraciously. Today though, I’m finding the more I look for something to watch, the more I’m seeing patterns that are old and outdated, rather than new and wondrous. Lately, it’s almost as though there is this resurgence of shoot ’em up type movies, where the lone good hero goes about killing all of the bad guys.

I also used to love playing video games. In fact, video games and their communities were integral to my development and growth as a young adult, helping me to step out of my introverted shell and really take a leadership role with things I cared about. Today though, I’m finding video game environments almost like microcosms of what’s happen in the world today. It’s like there is the same attitude in these video game communities as in these movies, everyone thinks they’re righteously the “good guys” and everyone else is the bad guys that need to be removed or controlled to make “everything better.”

As I noted above, what’s happening with movies and video games is that I’m seeing the underlying meaning of why they are so popular with people but also why they are meaningless to me now because I want to go beyond these meanings and find something deeper. To visualize what I’m talking about here, Richard Barrett has a great chart showing the various levels of consciousness and the values associated with them.

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

If you look at the base three levels of consciousness (1 Survival, 2 Relationships, 3 Self-Esteem), you’re looking at what Robert Kegan describes as the Socialized Mind which encompasses our basic psychological needs and core “positive” values for life, like survival, belonging, and recognition. They help us to “fit in” within society, especially when we’re young and growing up.

Note also, however, that accompanying these “positive values” are “limiting values” as well, like control, blame, and superiority. Why these are limiting values is because they can limit our further growth and development to higher levels of consciousness by addictively trapping us at lower levels of consciousness. To put this another way, it creates a situation where you feel like you (as your ego) are standing in your own way.

A guild raid group tackling a “wicked problem” in World of Warcraft.

A way I like looking at these is seeing life as a roleplaying game and these are “monsters” standing in our way. More specifically, they relate to our monstrous fears. And to further “level up” in life and reach more evolved levels of consciousness, we need to overcome and psychologically “slay” these monstrous fears before we can do so.

What I’ve learnt with regards to my own life though is that you will feel like you have slain these monstrous fears and will have levelled up but then later in your life, these fears will revisit you at a much deeper level than you imagined. Thus you realize that the monstrous fears you felt like you had slain were just the minions of a much larger boss monster that is monumentally harder to overcome. So you have to revisit these monstrous fears and overcome them once and for all or say stuck at the level you’re at.

What I see happening with society as a whole right now is that our base psychological fears and limiting values are keeping us within a vicious addictive loop that we can’t get out of. It’s like we’re drowning but we can’t see what we’re drowning within. What’s even worse though is that people have been becoming aware of these psychological fears and addictions and have started using them for their own benefit, such as politically and economically, increasingly over the past decades.

While I won’t go into political examples, because I think they’re pretty evident, I’d like to show one example of how businesses and even an entire industry is using these fears and addictions for economic gain. I’m talking about the video game industry, as shown in this video below which explains how to psychologically manipulate your gaming customers for your financial benefit. Note that this approach is pretty dominant now in the video game industry, particularly within Free-To-Play games, as this video is from 2016.

Let’s Go Whaling: Tricks for Monetizing Mobile Game Players with Free-To-Play

Remember I said that most people are oblivious to what they’re drowning within? Well that’s what it feels like playing within these video games where these developers are using these techniques to psychologically manipulate their customers as players within it. From my vantage point, I basically can see all of these people around me, particularly males, being manipulated by these very same base limiting values (i.e. control, jealously, revenge, arrogance, pride, superiority) as I mentioned above.

For example, developers of a game will often market new features and items within the game as something that will help you “dominate” your opponents, thus playing into the need to be “superior” and have “control” over others, even if it means having to pay a fortune to do so. So some players in the latest Diablo Immortal mobile free-to-play game were paying over $10,000 to be able to dominate other players.

It’s no different with movies though. These lone good guy hero shoot ’em up movies are feeding off these same fears and limiting values.

Yet this isn’t how you deal with reality in real life. You can’t punch or kill your way out of life’s problems, especially wicked problems like climate change which are systemic in nature and are effectively being created by own ignorant behaviours and beliefs. In effect, as I noted above, we are own own worst enemy standing in our own way.

Humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction.

Antonio Guterres

It’s funny. There’s a common quote that a lot of gamers often use when they treat someone else rudely or discriminatorily within video games. They will often say, “it’s just a game”, as though the focal point of what they’re doing not “being real” means they can treat other people however they want. I’ve said to them though that while the game may not be real, the people playing it are very real though and should be treated with some human decency.

Lately though, I’ve realized that this “it’s just a game” quote has taken on a deeper meaning for me. I’ve realized that life is effectively a very deep psychological game of many “levels” of consciousness and most people are completely oblivious and unaware that they are playing it. In effect, gamers are often psychologically playing “a game within a game” when they interact with other players within video games. It’s just that they’re not aware of it.

That’s why I think I have this detachment with so many things I used to have a strong attachment to, like playing video games. They seem frivolous and meaningless now because I’m seeing the larger roleplaying game called Life at a deeper level now and I want to “play a different game,” even showing others how to play it as well or at least work on learning from each other within it.

Put another way, I want to play within a larger context of life itself.

Vertical Development

The Unfolding & Emergence of Your Authentic Self

Stop Looking for Your Authentic Self | Psychology Today
It is right in front of you.

Your “authentic self”

Your authentic self is right here in front of you. It is the summation of your life programming from your parents, siblings, peers, teachers, employers, societal norms, and the marketing world. In other words, you are the product of who everyone else has told you to be. All the messages are internalized and become your own inner voice telling you how you should be. The outcome is a lot of noise in your brain of self-judgement and that of others. We call it “self-esteem.” It is a mismatch of your powerful unconscious brain versus your conscious one. It is endless and wears you down.

When I read the above for the first time, I laughed and thought the author must be crazy because that’s not your authentic self. What he’s describing is your programmed self, something that most people are completely unaware of. In effect, just because someone thinks they are an “adult” and are “independent”, it doesn’t mean they are psychologically mature and psychologically independent.

In fact, if you look at Life as a roleplaying game, we are effectively non-player characters during the initial part of our lives growing up (similar to Ryan Reynolds character in the movie Free Guy) because we are so dependent on our societal programming to survive when we are younger.

That’s what the author is trying to get at here though. He’s saying that this initial stage is completely normal and thus our dependency is normal as well. So who we are at this stage is authentically who we should be. It would be like a caterpillar being depressed that it’s not a butterfly yet when becoming a butterfly is a part of its life process. This mirrors with the absurdity of youth today being depressed that they haven’t figured out who they are yet before they have even lived their life and had enough experiences to figure out who they actually are.

What becomes more problematic is that thoughts and ideals are perceived as real to a given person as a car or table. They become our version of reality or life filter. Once this life lens is set, it becomes reinforced over a lifetime—unless you choose to become aware of it and change it.

As we grow into adulthood this programming starts to become rigid and permanent, unless we become aware of it and realize it’s just a construct. Right now, for many people, they are becoming aware of it though because major life challenges often make you question your reality and your programming in turn. This is basically what the pandemic has been doing for a lot of people over the past few years, thus leading to the Great Resignation in the workplace, whereby people are questing for a better way of working.

You are who you are today. You can see yourself by becoming aware of what you react to, what makes you anxious and angry, what are your behaviors and attitudes towards yourself and others, how much personal responsibility you take for your actions, and what level of compassion and empathy you feel for others. 

For example, most of us know that compassion is a good idea. But what happens when you are upset? You may say or do things that you are not proud of, and compassion goes right out the window. It is because compassion is a conscious construct and anger arises automatically from your unconscious brain. It is a million-to-one mismatch. That reaction in the moment is who you are because something in the present connected you to something threatening (or perceived as such) in the past. You are there and not here. It is also who you are.

What’s being described above is a person levelling up their level of consciousness which increases their awareness of themselves and the capacity of their consciousness. In Robert Fritz book The Path of Least Resistance, he describes this shift as one from a reactive to a responsive state of being. For those familiar with Robert Kegan’s work, he would describe it as a shift from a socialized mind to a self-authoring mind.

Richard Barrett’s work further helps us to see how these levels of consciousness are constructs that can be mapped out and how the value of compassion requires quite a high level to fully achieve and truly live as a way of life (rather than just being occasionally compassionate from time to time). A good example of this would be someone like Mother Teresa whose compassion was a way of life.

Your real authentic self

This all sounds challenging but there is a lot of hope once you realize how the complexity and depth of your life programming are playing out today. The key word is “awareness.” Once you are aware of how your past is continually playing out in the present, you can direct your attention to where you want your brain to develop. It continues to change every second—the term is “neuroplasticity.” Awareness creates the “space” you need to redirect your attention. Any amount will allow you to begin your journey into your new life. The sequence is 1) awareness 2) separation 3) reprogramming.

As you learn to take full responsibility for every one of your actions without judgement, you can create any reality you want by consistently making better choices. This new evolving person is still your authentic self. You just don’t have to keep searching for it.

In effect, once you become aware of your past “self” as a programmed ego construct, you are on your quest of discovering your larger True Self that lies hidden deep below it. I’ve described this like a journey to a new world, whereby you begin to discover it “within the in-between moments of the old world.” So while the “search” may be over at this point for your authentic self, as the author notes, the evolution and emergence of this large sense of Self “like a New World emerging from the Ocean of You” can still take the rest of your life to fully understand.

Vertical Development

Levelling Up Your Character in Life With Experience

Worries Teens Have About Themselves | Psychology Today
Many teens’ concerns can be alleviated by recognizing that they will mature.

Given their newfound awareness, teenagers work at understanding who they are and what they believe in. Because of their limited experience, they often make the mistake of assuming that their characteristics during early adolescence represent permanent traits.

I explain to teens that the process of developing better self-understanding should be a lifelong endeavor. In the case of teens who are undergoing rapid growth, their character will naturally change a great deal by the time they become young adults. Further, character also changes as a result of how people react to various life circumstances.

Some of the teens who seek counseling from me for their anxiety have a similar profile. They tend to be gifted intellectually, sensitive, mature, and have different interests than most of their peers. They often find it easier to relate to adults than to their peers, or to lead activities with younger children with whom they do not expect to share interests. As a result, they feel different and conclude that something must be wrong with them, which contributes to exacerbating their anxiety.

Some teens are so consumed by their inability to choose a career that they feel they cannot move forward in life.

The suffering in our lives is often caused by wrong perceptions of life itself which, as we grow, develop, and mature, can hopefully be corrected with time. The number one misperception of life is that we have to figure it all out before we begin our lives. This is completely backwards, as though Life is a traditional roleplaying game, where we have to figure out our role, class, and abilities before we begin to play the game.

Instead Life is an unconventional roleplaying game whereby we understand our role, class, and abilities while we are playing the game itself. In effect, the greatest Adventure of Your Life is to “Know Thyself” which can take you your entire life to actually figure out. So the more experience you gain in life, the more you can level up your character and understand your deeper Self all the more.

For this to work though, it requires that we look at life as an adventure of many surprising, open-ended possibilities that we can forge on our own rather than a linear well-worn path that we have to follow and fit within.

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself, just as I am, then I can change.

Carl Rogers

Ultimately, true heroes legitimize themselves, not by anything they do, but by being who they are.

Daryl Conners
Vertical Development

Psychological Development is Monumentally Hard

Can you really become a male or a female if you’re born the other. I don’t believe you can. We’re too different psychologically as well as physiologically. And the psychological is much harder to change.

Dennis Prager, Conservative Writer & Radio host

Yes, psychological changes are obviously much harder to make. But that’s exactly the whole point of understanding transgender people though! Their internal psychologically is different than the norms. So it’s easier for them to transform their physiology than try to change their psychology back to expected norms.

In my opinion, society needs to try to relate to and understand transgender people more because they represent all of us in terms of trying to express a deeper aspect of ourselves that others often cannot comprehend.

For example, I believe there are many people psychologically “levelling up” right now in these challenging times of rapid change, yet they are often afraid to try to express the transformation they are going through because society norms may stigmatize them. So not only is their psychological development hard but stepping beyond societal norms makes it twice as hard.

Vertical Development

Adapting World Views Using Maps of Meaning

Going beyond knowledge and intelligence to adapting with awareness and consciousness.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve stopped all of my work and have just been reflecting on things. I’ve done so because I feel like I’ve hit a wall, whereby I don’t see how I can effectively communicate and continue my work anymore because the depth of it is often misunderstood and paradoxical to conventional minds.

Simply put, my work seems counter-intuitive and thus illogical to most people.

The crux of this has to do with the conventional belief that most of the worlds problems are due to people being stupid (i.e. “vast empty minds needing filling”) and they just need to get smarter, obtaining more knowledge. Once they do, everything will be better. The problem with this approach though is that everyone thinks they are smart now and know everything, while everyone else is seen as stupid.

Therefore the problem isn’t that we don’t have enough smart people. The problem is that we don’t have people aware and conscious enough to know if they are smart or not. It reminds me of quote relating to Darwin which articulates how intelligence isn’t the end all and be all.

According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.

Leon C. Megginson

There also seems to be this current belief that the world is getting stupider. I disagree. It’s not. If anything, we’re just becoming more aware of how many people are actually ignorant of things that we assumed they understood. Note I said ignorant not stupid. In effect, these people assume and believe they understand the world but are unaware that they don’t.

Why are we becoming aware of this now though? It’s because the world is rapidly changing. Back when things were more stable, everyone fit into their roles and place, with little cause to question things. Yet now that things are rapidly changing, people’s awareness and understanding of the world is being put to the test on almost a daily level, causing them to question everything. And how they answer these questions determines whether they truly understand the meaning of things or not.

And I think therein lies the problem which lies within us, lying to us. How we make our meaning is determined by how we perceive our world (aka worldview), thus relating to our beliefs and assumptions. Therefore, intelligence is not the end all and be all. What is more important than intelligence is our consciousness and awareness of things because it is the context of which our intelligence is contained within.

If acts of intelligence focus broadly on doing, awareness is more about a state of being.

In fact, you could say that awareness is the space inside of which intelligence lives. I mean, how can you be “intelligent” about anything that’s outside of your awareness.

The Precision Principle

What I find remarkable about this is that instead of the typical belief that we need more knowledge to make everyone smarter and everything better, it’s actually the opposite in a way. We actually need to unlearn. And I think this gets to the roots of vertical development. It’s basically about challenging your assumptions and beliefs…before they are challenged by life itself, as they will most definitely be in our rapidly changing world today, as Alvin Toffler notes below.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.

The responsibility for change…lies within us. We must begin with ourselves, teaching ourselves not to close our minds prematurely to the novel, the surprising, the seemingly radical.

A new civilization is emerging in our lives, and blind men everywhere are trying to suppress it.

Alvin Toffler

Another way of looking at this all is realizing that how we make our meaning and understanding of our world arises from how we perceive and see the relationship between things within it (including ourselves). And how we adapt, or more aptly transform the way we perceive our world and its meaning, is by changing these relationships. When we do so, we transform the meaning of our world and the way we perceive it, in turn.

Kegan explains that transformation is different than learning new information or skills. New information may add to the things a person knows, but transformation changes the way he or she knows things. Transformation, according to Kegan, is about changing the very form of the meaning-making system—making it more complex, more able to deal with multiple demands and uncertainty.

Jennifer Garvey Berger, A Summary of Constructive-Developmental Theory Of Robert Kegan

Why this is relevant is because I remembered a while back stumbling across learning about concept maps which are effectively maps of meaning which show our understanding of knowledge by showing the relationship between concepts and allowing you to narratively describe the meaning of something by following the relationship flows within it.

More importantly, it can also help you to see how you are misunderstanding the meaning of something as well, since you’ve explicitly extracted this meaning from within yourself and mapped the relationships of it, thus allowing you to see and manage it more easily.

All said and done, I think concept maps are something that I need to explore further, as a possible way to get beyond this wall that I’m hitting. In effect, I need a tool that is extremely simple and basic but can be used as a building block to articulate and communicate complex, even paradoxical, ideas. Yet more than anything, I have a funny intuition that it might be more effective in articulating and communicating the basic understanding and meaning of things in our world today that so many people are often misunderstanding.

In a sense, imagine as a traveller ending up lost in a small town and being told that your map is out of date. Getting a new local map, you compare the old and the new, seeing the now evident primary differences between the two. That’s what I feel like I’m looking for. Some simple way to visually show people the difference between their outdated conventional meaning of the world compared to a much larger reality.

Best of all, if I can figure a way to do this, I can use it to continually test my own assumptions and beliefs with my own development as well.

Vertical Development

Going Beyond Forced Expectations to Express My Larger Self

I just realized something else with regards to letting go of control. It’s not just about letting go of controlling others but of yourself as well. In effect, our outward expectations of others are often entwined with our inward expectations of ourselves.

So this “radical openness” that I’m looking for applies not just to others but even more so to myself. That’s because by transforming my perspective of myself, I can in turn transform my perspective of others.

And strangely enough, I have been thinking about this the last few days, as I’ve been reflecting upon my life over the past couple of decades. When I do so, I see two aspects of myself. One aspect is the guy who was active in developing communities online around video games but was intuitively practicing Future of Work principles before I even understood what they were years later. The other aspects is a of guy who now understands many of these Future of Work practices but can’t find the right type of people to put them into practice.

In effect, as I said back around 2015 on Google+, I don’t feel like I’m meant to be helping organizations to transform. Instead I’m realizing I’m supposed to help people transform and they in turn will create new organizations. So kind of a bottom up approach rather than a top down one.

All said and done though, I still feel like I am putting this ingrained expectation upon myself to be something that I’m not which is why I’m still hanging out with people who are focused on organizational transformation.

The key thing that is making me realize I don’t have to “play the same game” as others is Carol Sanford’s foundational story within her book Indirect Work of how Phil Jackson transformed the Chicago Bulls. The emphasis being that he was able to transform the level of consciousness of a bunch of people who were playing a game. In effect, what’s stopping me from doing the same thing within the gaming environments I’ve been playing within most of my life already? In other words, why force myself to change and act in a way that feels alien to me, when I’m obviously more optimally suited for these gaming environments which to me already have an embedded space and mindset for “playing” in the first place.

For example, the other day I joking said on Twitter that maybe I should create tours into games like World of Warcraft to show business people how The Future of Work will work by immersing them in a guild setting and helping them to translate the meaning of what they’re seeing, so that can put these principles into practice in their own businesses. So instead of me going into businesses and meeting people there, I instead invite business people into gaming environments and show them people playing, learning, and working on a higher “level” there.

Actually, I don’t even need to target business people. I can just target gamers who are frustrated with the way that work works in their own lives which is probably why a lot of gamers are gaming more because gaming environments are helping them to meet their psychological needs that they may not be getting in their work environments. So it’s almost like I’m showing gamers how they can start a work (ad)venture with a company of people and emulate an entirely new way of working using practices similar to what they used to using in MMORPGs (which people like John Seely Brown have already proven are innovative).

All said and done, it is something I should explore and play with more as a potential possibility. In other words, I don’t have to follow the forced societal expectations I seem to be automatically putting upon myself. I can instead choose a different path of my own choosing. One that’s more aligned with who I truly am.

In closing, I’m reminded of an awesome paper by Daryl Conner from Conner Partners entitled A Hero’s Journey for the Practitioner (which unfortunately appears to be gone now due them updating their entire web site platform).

Although Campbell’s storyline depicts a single movement from naiveté to wisdom, the same stream of events is replicated repeatedly for those on a mastery path. The heroic emergence from one set of challenges is the entry point for a new level of innocence and pursuit of the next Journey. Mastery calls for taking part in as many of these heroic cycles as is possible, related to a particular domain of knowledge, skill, or beingness. For those of us seeking mastery in the change field, this means repeating the heroic saga as frequently as circumstances and our courage and tenacity will allow.

In closing, I’d like to offer my bias about what is the most important lesson to be learned during these epic periods of professional/personal growth. All the illumination that takes place during these developmental leaps contributes to the wisdom we strive for but, in my view, there is one awareness that stands above all the rest in its creation of value for us and those we serve.

The profound awakening I’m referring to is the same one that unfolded for Sara—at a certain point during the Return phase of her Journey, she could see that all the hard lessons learned during her odyssey weren’t where her hero status proved its real value. Being worthy of the hero’s title isn’t demonstrated through endurance, dedication to a mission, or even slaying dragons, and certainly not by imposing “right solutions” on others. Ultimately, true heroes legitimize themselves, not by anything they do, but by being who they are. They come home from their trials and tribulations simply to live a different life. In doing so, they open the possibility of deeply affecting a relatively few people who, in turn, go on their own Hero’s Journey and return to impact a few more who are ready to learn.

As change professionals, the greatest leverage we have for affecting people is just to be who we are. Methodologies, concepts, and techniques are what we use when “exposing” large numbers to the technical aspects of how change can be orchestrated, but when deep impact within individuals is the agenda, there is nothing that comes close to the influence of a practitioner’s genuine authenticity on a small number of people. For Sara, this meant that the constituency she came back to serve was actually a relatively small number of her contemporaries who were already predisposed to grow in her direction and who naturally resonated with the full expression of who she is.

Daryl Conner, A Hero’s Journey for the Practitioner

Simply put, I think the issue here isn’t that I’ve been communicating over the years, it’s that I’ve been communicating it to the wrong people. I need to find my “tribe”, if you will. So I need to find my “constituency” of “a relatively small number of contemporaries” who are “already predisposed to growth in my direction” and who “naturally resonate with the full expression of who I am” (which sounds remarkable close to Carol Sanford’s description of “essence”).

Vertical Development

Letting Go of Expectations of Growth

Thinking about my last couple of weeks being on Twitter has made me realize and see another common pattern of mine that has probably existed for at least five years or more.

Basically whenever I join a new community or work environment, I’m initially trying to find a connection between myself and other people, which seems typically normal for most people to do. What happens next though is where my wanting to control others kicks in. As soon as a connection has been made with others, I suddenly have this expectation for others to begin to grasp what I’m communicating and begin to evolve to my level of consciousness. What then follows when this doesn’t happen is an increased expectation and an increased attempt to disrupt and thus control them, thus almost forcibly wanting them to change.

In a sense, I’m initially working indirectly and lightly, with almost no expectations, but when I see people connecting to what I’m saying, I suddenly shift into a more direct and forcible approach.

This reminded me about a quote below from the book The Tao of Power by R.L. Wing which is a translation of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.

Use attitude instead of action, and lead others by guiding rather than ruling. Manage people by letting them act on you, and not the other way around. In this way, your subjects will develop a sense of self-government, and you as their guide, will be rewarded with their loyalty and cooperation.

R.L Wing, The Tao of Power

Obviously people on Twitter are not my “subjects” but the emphasis here is still poignant. I’m definitely starting by letting people act on me but then later I shift to start acting off them more and more, due to my increased expectations that they should be changing, evolving, and grasping what I’m understanding at my level. In other words, the typical mindset of expecting others to “conform to our worldview,” regardless of it potentially being a more evolved one.

All said and done, this ability to step back and reflect on yourself is interesting and most definitely useful, especially when you can quickly get over the hump of beating yourself up over your actions by realizing that your actions are often ingrained and automatic. That’s the whole point. You’re trying to become more consciously aware of the invisible, automatic actions occurring below the surface of the simplest of things in your daily life, so that you can consciously choose to act in a more creative way, benefitting not just for yourself but for the other people you’re interacting with as well.

BTW I just realized something else in relation to this. I think there is need to get others to evolve and grow because I myself feel like I’m not evolving and growing. In effect, while I feel I am making headway, it feels like I’ve hit a wall of sorts. And that wall is obviously an existing paradigm that defines my current worldview which means I need a larger one which redefines my own identity to step beyond it.