In his book, @F-L-O-W, Find, Design, Use Talent to Emerge Happiness & Success in a Post-Modern World, Mike R Jay, an executive coach for 25 years, will start you on a development journey by asking some questions most of us are reluctant to address.
You know Limits to Growth and the law of diminishing returns, but do you apply this to your personal life? Does your team attend inspirational development programs and then, back in the office, notice they didn’t take? Do you wonder if we really can be anything we want to be? Mike suggests it would be better if we decided to simply become what we were born to be, regardless of the pressure for MORE.
So how did we get to this place of forever striving to become things we are not? Pavlov and Skinner conditioning experiments showed the power of shaping behavior. Nazi Eugenics gave a sinister connotation to the idea of huge inborn differences. The result: fifty years of psychologists down the rabbit hole of Tabula Rasa, Latin for Blank Slate (@BS). In its “nurture trumps all” extreme, @BS claims that everything (personality, behavior, and intelligence) comes from experience and cultural bias. While preschool teachers know this is nonsense, the researchers were affluent white males who spent no time raising children. Not surprisingly, they missed the obvious: we begin different. Different is not broken!
Cutting edge psychologists and neurologists were rejecting @BS 50 years ago, but the insidious damage was already done. Society accepted the myth –one size fits all. Mike points us to a 1928 book by Edward Bernays, Propaganda, which asks how we grow an economy if people buy only what they need? If people were to buy more, businesses could raise salaries and then sell even more as incomes rose. Hence the cult of more and the myth of economic growth at all costs were born. Economists are wrong; human beings are not rational! Conscious individuals can step off the more bandwagon. In @F-L-O-W, Mike provides a practical blueprint for doing this as unique individuals within like-minded communities.
@F-L-O-W suggests we may not be able to be anything we want, but we can become anything we are and can be, if we unconditionally accept ourselves and those around us. Development through introspective, personal perfection quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns as we move away from natural strengths. If we need to change, we should first alter our Life Conditions, with Scaffolding from a compatible micro-culture. If true needs, including the need for happiness, were to replace wants, exponential growth would not be required?
So what alternative does @F-L-O-W propose?
- Start with Awareness, in the form of self-knowledge about our talents, Type, development level and current capacity. Note this is not self-awareness because the majority of humans are not yet ready for modern and post-modern introspection. We all have gaps where we still can’t see our own lack of capacity. Rebuilding and reinforcing our positive capacity to exist in levels we’ve already mastered will build a firmer foundation for times when we must move up to move on.
- Find your Purpose by stopping all pretense of being things you are not. Know what is meaningful to you and say a clear Yes or No accordingly. As Kegan and Garvey-Berger point out, we are “Subject” to our own constructed reality. It’s not always possible to see the obvious holes. That’s where Scaffolding from a purposeful community comes in, so reach out.
- So, how does one become more Competent in the most effective way? First, perhaps you might want to design your life to flow around the biggest gaps instead of expending all your energy on filling in your deepest holes. Again, you’ll need feedback and help to make this work. The Lone Wolf is an endangered species. And of course, values matter, so understand yours.
- Mike’s 4th pillar is Wellth, a combination of wellness and results. He reminds us that it’s necessary to keep score. Are we making progress on the things that are important to us? When we keep score, we will find the need to recalibrate often. The world is changing, and our path will need to be continually modified. To get the best results, culture will be a key. Or, to be more precise, your micro-culture, so be sure to surround yourself with people who were going in the same direction.
Those of you who are into development theories might have noticed there are a few more possibilities. For follow up http://livingatflow.com/service/.