The Four Stages of Personal Evolution- Becoming Worldview Aware

Wisdom could be considered as the ability to think beyond our own personal worldviews with an ability to consciously hold multiple perspectives or worldviews at once. This may sound quite logical but in reality, requires an evolved way of thinking and continued practice of self-awareness. The ability to see beyond the limitations of our own lens can only be exercised and practiced in relationship with Others (including Nature.). I am suggesting that there are four significant stages of a personal evolutionary or transformational process. These stages can be developed within the practice of deep Dialogue and time in Nature.

Our Worldview impacts how we see and interact with the world, events, situations and other people.  They influence our communication, decision-making and workplace cultures.  Most of this happens unconsciously.  When we become aware of the lens through which we experience the world we can consciously begin to explore individual and collective assumptions, beliefs and value systems with curiosity and non-judgment.  This opens the potential for more comprehensive approaches and solutions to emerge on a range of issues and opportunities, including those that might be mildly oppositional to completely divisive to seemingly unsolvable.

Self-understanding is the first stage of the evolutionary cycle, providing the foundations to then journey out and explore and incorporate the universe of other perspectives. Our relationship with Nature provides the most conducive place to begin this practice. When we begin to explore our own thinking and deeply observe our own mono-centric lens on the world we naturally go through a profound self-transformation. We are able to enter into a global perspective and hold very diverse worlds together and act with courage, empathy and wisdom. A “worldview intelligent” workplace is a creative inspiring and innovative place to be.

There are four phases I believe we move through on the way to becoming a worldview aware. These do not always occur in a linear order since we may sometimes enter a feeling of oneness or wholeness discussed in states three and four following a retreat or time alone in nature then return to our old selves shortly after.

I have deliberately excluded the word “change” out of the summary here as it suggests a forced energy that needs to be practiced in order to evolve from on experience to the next. The transformation I am suggesting emerges when we drop the want for change and simply learn to observe.

Stage 1- Radical encountering of difference of the Other (The Other refers to people or Nature)

In this first phase, we unlearn misinformation about each other and begin to know each other as we truly are. In this phase, we start to learn to listen deeply with Others and hear their perspective.  In this phase I often find it difficult to move beyond a tolerance of the Other but we practice listening when deeply whilst remaining aware of our own worldview. I listen but then return “home” to my own safe haven and perspective. I may find that this first encounter comes with a certain shock, with a realization of the Other, a different way of life, a different worldview, an alien Other that resists, interrupts, disrupts my settled patterns of interpretation. With this encounter, there is a new realization that my habits of mind cannot always make sense of the Others perspectives.

 Stage 2- Crossing over, letting go and entering the world of the Other

In phase two I begin to discern values in the Other’s story and worldview and may wish to adapt them into my own. I feel challenged to inquire, investigate, engage and enter this new world, to engage in critical-thinking. As I open my Self to this Other I realize that I need to stand back and distance myself from my former habits and patterns of minding the world. I begin to realize that this other world organizes and processes the world very differently from my way. I realize that I must learn new habits and ways of interpretation to make sense of this different world. I must learn a “new language.” Indeed, I must translate myself into a different form of life that sees the world differently. This involves a bracketing of my prejudices. I feel a new horizon opening.

Stage three- Inhabiting and experiencing the world of the Other

 If we are serious, persistent, and sensitive enough in dialogue, we may at times enter into phase three. Here we together begin to explore new areas of reality and new ways of acting, new insights into meaning—all of which neither of us had previously even been aware. We are brought face to face with new previously unknown dimensions of reality and possibility of action.

I begin to feel a new and deep empathy for my new habitat; I am keen to free myself to enter, experiment, learn and grow in this new way of being. I embrace critical-thinking and hold on to my prior views as much as I can, but I experience an excitement in discovering, in inhabiting a new and different worldview. I have a new profound realization of the Other, an alternative reality and form of life.

I realize this is not my place of home but start to question what is my home?  I experience a deep shift in my perspective.  Who am I?  What is my true identity?  Is this Other part of me?  Is my world transforming now?

Stage 4- Crossing back with expanded vision- Self returns home with new knowledge

 I now cross back, return, to my own world, bringing back new knowledge of how to think and act (critical-thinking), and may even wish to adopt/adapt some of it for myself. As a result of this encounter with the world of the Other, I now realize that there are other ways of understanding reality. I am therefore open to rethinking how I see myself, others and the world. I encounter my Self with a newly opened mind which now begins to challenge my former Identity. There is no return to my former unilateral way of thinking.

I now start to perceive deeply the oneness of all people and our unity with nature. I now begin to realize that there are many other worlds, other forms of life, other perspectives that surround me. I now open to a plurality of other worlds and perspectives and this irrevocably changes my sense of Self. I feel transformed to a deeper sense of relation and connection with my ecology. I feel more deeply rooted in this experience of relationality and community. I now see that my true identity is essentially connected with this expansive network of relations with Others.

This last stage can be the door to spiritual awakenings and the blossoming of wisdom.  We have developed both the mindful Dialogue programs and Wild Mind days in nature to support you through your own evolutionary journey.

Participatory Leadership is simply Quantum Science in action

The science of Quantum physics proved what our indigenous ancestors have known for ever that we are part of a world of relationships. At the heart of the Quantum is the capacity to relate which is at the foundation of all forms of life.  The universe unfolds through relationships–multiple, messy relationships–that bring together all things in creative symbiosis. Life is less the survival of the fittest than the flourishing of those that fit together.  Simply put, life is Dialogic. We need to practice skilful dialogue to build these sustainable relationships for resilience, creativity and innovation. This understanding of the world is at odds with current worldview of competition and the importance of the Self.

The capacity to relate constitutes all things. The implications for this understanding in the world of business dictates how we can manage resilient productive workplaces.  Life emerges, the scientists tell us, as a chord that explodes out of separate notes held together into something that had no reality before the relationship, and has no reality when the relationship ceases. All things are energized by the creative force of the universe and shaped by relationships.

The ability for most CEO’S and political leaders to understand that we exist in a web of balanced relationships rather than the competitive monocentric worldview is however understandable.  In the business world, many business leaders have reached that position of power because they have been competitive in a deep driven way at each stage of their careers. However, they potentially become victims of the competitive behaviour when they reach the top, precisely at the point where they need to think relationally and dialogically most of all.

The same is true in politics where we see good campaigners who get elected but extremely poor leaders. They may get elected because they represent an ideology, but to be an effective legislator you have to be able to dialogue and relate across ideological boundaries. Not all of those people that are in those positions have been able to do this. The skills that get people power are not the skills that make them effective when they have it.

The three levels of reality

The universe is basically comprised of three levels of reality: The Virtual, the Quantum, and the Material. The Virtual can be described as the unknown or the not-yet. It is the source of life where all potential lies and all possibility exists. Everything exists here as unmanifested potential. It might be defined as a reservoir of energy that feeds all things, the ground of being itself, the life force that drives the universe.

The Quantum level of reality is the world of relationships: patterns of interaction beneath the surface of things that suggest probability, which is how physicists would define objects–“patterns of probability.” One example of these patterns of probability is the relationship of electrons that circle a nucleus and which constitute–are the foundation for–an atom. Atoms, which we tend to think of as the building blocks of things, are, in fact, mostly space (possibility) where particles relate in patterns (probability) that allow the atoms to exist.

We all exist in this world of potential that is manifested in the way we relate. These ideas are shaped by the findings of modern science which describe reality to us as vast space filled with potential (the Virtual): A Quantum world of relationships that underpins all things. Life emerges, the scientists tell us, as a chord that explodes out of separate notes held together into something that had no reality before the relationship, and has no reality when the relationship ceases.

 

 

View life from Outside of your Cave

The Seven stages of the Dialogue and critical thinking for a total group transformation

The practice of skilfully facilitated conversation and deep Dialogue in any group offers the opportunity to increase our awareness of our own assumptions and perspectives and participate more consciously and carefully in the way we interact with the world. We are no longer help captive by one “privileged” worldview.  Our practice of Dialogue disrupts our worldviews and aids our ability to hold multiple perspectives at once; this true is wisdom.  Peter Senge coined the term creative tension to indicate how a group feels when it experiences the gap between where it is and where it wants to go.  When in deep Dialogue, we are constantly experiencing this creative tension which underpins all change work. Without the gap “there would be no need for any action to move toward a vision. Indeed, the gap is the source of creative energy.

The Art of Dialogue program teaches and supports groups to move through seven distinct stages of transformation that are universally experienced when engaged in the deep Dialogic processes.  These are not a random back and forth, but there is actually an awakening that occurs through a specific and disciplined process. The participatory leadership skills of hosting conversation and dialogue is the combination of art and science. The Art of Dialogue workshops teach leaders the disciplines and ground rules but it is the practice of hosting conversation that ultimately supports the artistic element of great participatory leadership.

Stage one- A radical encountering of difference in world-views

 This first encounter comes with a certain shock, with a realization of an Other, a different way of life, a different worldview, an alien Other that resists, interrupts, disrupts my settled patterns of interpreta­tion. With this encounter, there is a new realization that my habits of mind cannot make sense of this Other.

 Stage two- crossing over, letting go and entering the world of the other

 I face a person who has a worldview alien from mine.” We are now encountering a subject who has a view of us, which we hadn’t really thought of before. We always thought we had a view of every-thing else and we incorporated everything else into our worldview.

After the initial shock and realization that I now face alien worldviews very different from my own, I feel challenged to inquire, investigate, engage and enter this new world, to engage in critical-thinking. As I open my Self to this Other I realize that I must learn new habits and ways of interpretation to make sense of this different world.

Stage three-  Inhabiting and experiencing the world of the Other

 I begin to feel a new and deep empathy for my new habitat; I want to let myself go, experiment, learn and grow in this new way of being, to embrace critical-thinking. I hold on to my prior views as much as I can, but also experience the worldview of the Other. I have a new profound realization of an alternative reality. But in the end, I realize this is not my home.  I experience a deep shift in perspective and feel the start of a transformation.  We feel our thinking has been expanded and enriched by taking aboard other worldview. Something profound starts to happen.

Stage four –  Crossing back with expanded vision and knowledge

I cross back, return to my own world with expanded knowledge of how to think and act critically and may adopt the new worldviews into my own world as a result of this encounter. I now realize that there are other ways of understanding reality. I am therefore open to rethinking how I see myself, others and the world. There is no return to my former self of seeing the world from the confines of my own small worldview

 Stage five – the dialogic/ critical awakening: a radical mind-shift

self inwardly transformed

 As a result of this new encounter with other worldviews, I cross back and begin to experience a profound shift in all aspects of my world; in my inner experience, in my encounter with others, in my relating to the world. I begin to realize that my encounter with the Other has shaken the foundation of my former worldview, my former identity. I can no longer return to my former and now begin to realize that there are many other worlds, other forms of life, other perspectives that surround me.  This stage is almost like a spiritual awakening or a classic transformation and the blossoming of wisdom.

 Stage six- the group awakening- the paradigm shift matures

In my transformed Dialogical/Critical Awakening I discover a deeper common ground between the multiple worldviews and perspectives that surround me. I have a new sense that myself and others are inseparably connected in an inter-relational web. I realize that multiplicity and diversity enriches my Self and my World.

As my new inner dialogue and critical-thinking evolves I find myself in a new and transformed relation with others. This new phase of relations with my peers can be disorienting and disconcerting, for as I now dramatically grow in my new identity I find myself in an estranged distance from many of my old relationship. I am learning how to live from a new world view which requires a new language.  As in all transformations this period can often be challenging and confronting.

Stage seven – personal transformation maturing

As this paradigm-shift in my life matures I realize that there is a deep change in all aspects of my life, a new moral consciousness and a new practice. As my new dialogical/critical consciousness becomes a habit of life I find that my behaviour and my disposition to others has blossomed. I feel a new sense of communion. I have a deeper sense of belonging to my world, to my community, and with this a boundless sense of responsibility in all of my conduct. I now realize that I am transformed in the deepest habits of mind and behaviour. I find a deeper sense of Self-realization and fulfilment and meaning in my life and my relations with others and the world around me.

 

 

The Art of Dialogue

The Art of Dialogue is a response to a world that is becoming increasingly complex and fragmented, where true solutions and innovation lie not in one leader or one viewpoint, but in the bigger picture of our collective intelligence.

One of the essential skills for growing as a leader and dialogue host is being aware of what is happening around you and not losing yourself in the emotions of any given moment. Throughout the day we need to constantly ask ourselves how do we know what we know? This question is at the core of our worldview and needs to be examined deeply.

Our world views influences our communication, decision-making and workplace cultures – most of this happening unconsciously. They are the lens through which we experience and see the world through. All the decisions and actions you make are directly a result of our world views, which have been informed by your culture, education, parents. Media, spirituality, and environment you live in and friends. You can spend a lifetime examining how each of our world views have been informed.

Each one of us views the world through a different lens, which informs the actions we take and the thinking we bring to situations. Our thinking for the most part remains unvalidated throughout our lives. For this reason an extraordinary leader understands that they will only ever have partial answers for any problem and as such need the subtle skills in hosting dialogues to embrace all views which help make up the whole.

The most important conversation any leader must be aware of when hosting conversations that matter is the conversation one has with ourselves. When we are aware that our views of the world are seen through a coloured or filtered lens formed around our experiences  we are naturally more likely to be empathetic leaders who know the importance of hearing all voices to co-create creative solutions.

In the next blog we will examine six philosophical domains that shape our world views.