The frustrations around people's growth and development

Maybe because it is so important, when it's blocked, it's at best disapppointing

I intended to start doing a concept map, but instead today revolved around that troublesome topic of adult development (levels, stages, orders, etc.) Robert Kegan is someone I mention quite often, ever since I read In Over Our Heads back around maybe 2008, after I had been recommended it by Darren Cambridge at an e-portfolio conference. This was a few years after coming across the work of Kegan's older colleague, William G. Perry. So it was back to my collection of diagrams where Kegan's ‘orders of consciousness’ are compared with other adult development schemes. Here's a nice one, taken from Barrett Brown's Blazing the Trail from Infancy to Enlightenment:

Ria and Helen often mention Spiral Dynamics, which I've never really studied, so this was a good opportunity to revise the connection between that work, based on the work of Clare Graves, and Kegan's. I wasn't quite sure how much to trust the cross-mapping, but I am reassured by Barrett Brown's selection of texts from the various sources, spelling out much of the connection.

One thing has been nagging at me, though. One of the virtues of Kegan's work is that it is very simple: his subject-object psychology gives us only three distinct orders usually seen in adulthood, whereas Spiral Dynamics has more. Kegan seems to deal with the individual only, whereas Spiral Dynamics stretches more into the culture of groups; and where Spiral Dynamics has a lot to say about values, Kegan writes about values only in the abstract, and he doesn't attach sets of values to particular orders of consciousness. More important to him is where values come from. So is there more, in some sense, to Spiral Dynamics? I don't mean more as in better. More, if unfounded, can mean less helpful, more confusing. Kegan's work sets out one, clear, dimension: is there another that can be teased out?

If so, can we make out a distinctive social side that complements the individual side? Or could it be to do with values? Different writers have different value schemes. I looked at the Hall-Tonna Values Inventory, with its 125 different values, a long time ago. There, values are grouped together in a kind of developmental framework, so maybe if other values schemes also have some kind of framework, we might see a correspondence between different clusters of values, even though the individual names and numbers differ?

Like Robert Kegan, I have the sense that we are living longer to allow ourselves, collectively, to develop more self-transcendent wisdom, and that wisdom is what is so needed in present times. So I can feel frustrated sometimes when I see people who seem to get in the way rather than helping this enlargement of awareness and consciousness. Not that they don't have a good point, in themselves. To give an obvious example, take Jordan Peterson. For a particular audience, I'm sure his message can be helpful. But it seemed to me when I read, watched and heard him that he didn't understand post-modernism at all, as people like Kegan or Iain McGilcrist clearly do. And if they would only just be silent about things that they don't really ‘get’, I would be happy enough. The same goes for Peter Koenig, or Frank Yang, and indeed many people who seem to have got the intellectual idea of some or other advanced stage or order of consciousness, but who don't live it. What seems to be needed, and is evident with the people who I see as having truly got it, is a good measure of humility, along with the ability to be self-critical where appropriate.

Ria was asking why I don't just say, calmly, Peter Koenig doesn't seem to understand 5th order. I think my frustration comes both from my seeing the remedy as potentially so easy, and from my seeing that other people may be held back from their own development, by following a misleading source. But, I suppose, how can I complain these days, in view of the far grosser misleadings that have been, and still are, going on.

As I was sharing in conversation with Timothée, I see this is where the collective can come in. Picking up the reference in my last entry, to Parker Palmer and his ‘circles of trust’, the recognition that I am imperfect doesn't stop me playing my part in a circle that can offer guidance and wisdom to all of us who are imperfect as individuals, but much wiser as a collective, when ‘truly present together’ (to borrow words from Ria's book subtitle). And that's what seems to be missing from these people who tax my patience: lack of humility; and following on from that, lack of any further development. If individuals like the ones I mentioned could open themselves to collective wisdom from people who know them, I can't help imagining what might become possible …

Back to home again, why is it so easy to say (to others) and so hard to do oneself, among the people one lives with? It's not that Ria and Helen and myself don't get the idea of 5th order consciousness; it's not that we don't live it, at least some of the time, but we all have blind spots; and for whatever reasons, it is a real challenge to reach the stage of each individual wanting to hear about those blind spots, as well as the others being ready to point them out.

Time for some self-compassion as well as compassion for those around me.

Topics: Complex psychology; Personal development

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