Robert Kegan points to the demands made by societies at different points in human history (the Curriculum of the society) as being helpful for understanding why so many of us are now “In over our heads”.
Clare Graves* looked at development as a psycho-social dynamic between the current Capacity of an individual and the Life Conditions into which he is embedded.
Both observers report that the majority of adults tend to end up at their societal mode. They examine the developmental fit between the Curriculum demanded by 21st century Life Conditions and the Capacity of adults within it to cope with the complexity and rapid change.
Stages of Development – Orders of Mind / Bio-Psycho-Social Values Systems
Diversity Generators (Individual) Conformity Enforcers (Group)
Sovereign Mind (Adolescent)
Self-Worth and Self Defense
Socialized or Traditional Mind (Civilized Adult)
Truth, Stability, Limits and Planning
Self-Authored or Modern Mind (Renaissance Man)
Merit, Mastery of Nature via Objective Analysis, Principals, Solutions
Self-Transforming or Postmodern Mind (Communitarian Network)
Situational, Compassionate, Egalitarian, Shared Purpose
Second Tier-Thought Era or Post-Post Modern View (Systemic Flex/Flow)
Integrative, Interdependent, Functional Response to Chaos, Competencies
Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory* – Dr. Clare Graves’ work on the effect of the complexity of our physical and social environment on individual biological and psychological development. (1)
Spiral Dynamics® – a Graves based theory of step-wise cognitive development. As our brains mature and grow more neural paths we are able to engage in more complex processing that allows us to step beyond innate preferences to conscious use of other capacities. Cognitive changes coalesce into discrete levels. As we move up to more complex levels of cognitive development, we have more and more options available for processing information and dealing with our environment.(2)
Forms of Mind – Robert Kegan and Jennifer Garvey Berger’s research on adult development suggests that our post-modern world has become so inter-related and so complex that most of us are “In Over Our Heads”(3).
(1) The Never Ending Quest: Dr. Clare W. Graves Explores Human Nature. by Clare W. Graves with Christopher C. Cowan & Natasha Todorovic, Eds.).
(2) Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values. Beck, Don, and Christopher Cowan, Leadership, and Change, Blackwell, Oxford, 1996.
(2a) Spiral Dynamics in Action: Humanity’s Master Code. Beck, Don, et. al. Wiley; 2018.
(3) In Over our Heads: The mental demands of modern life. Kegan, R. (1994). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
(3b) Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World, by Jennifer Garvey Berger
(3c) Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps; How to Thrive in Complexity, by Jennifer Garvey Berger
* Innovative Development: Emerging Worldviews and Systems Change