Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen

Dr. Abigail Lynam, Geoff Fitch & Dr. Jonathan Reams - A Spectrum of Development

February 01, 2023 Scott J. Allen Season 1 Episode 160
Dr. Abigail Lynam, Geoff Fitch & Dr. Jonathan Reams - A Spectrum of Development
Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen
More Info
Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen
Dr. Abigail Lynam, Geoff Fitch & Dr. Jonathan Reams - A Spectrum of Development
Feb 01, 2023 Season 1 Episode 160
Scott J. Allen

Abigail Lynam, Ph.D., is Faculty for Fielding Graduate University’s Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Development and Faculty and Coach for Pacific Integral’s Generating Transformative Change program. Her scholarship and practice sits at the intersection of personal and systemic transformation and development, the area of emphasis being adult developmental psychology applied to adult learning, coaching, social change, and leadership development.

Geoff Fitch is co-founder and faculty at Pacific Integral, and has been creative leader, coach, and educator exploring diverse approaches to cultivating higher human potentials for over 25 years, including somatic and transpersonal psychology, mindfulness, creativity, leadership, integral theory, and collective intelligence. Geoff also has more than 30 years of experience in leadership in business. He holds a Master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Boston University.

A Quote From This Episode

  • "Sometimes people describe it as being out at sea in a boat...floating on the ocean with no oars and no land in sight. A certain kind of faith and trust needs to happen in the 'letting go' because we're waiting for what's next to come. And that can be quite disorienting."

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

More About Series Co-Host, Dr. Jonathan Reams

About  Scott J. Allen

My Approach to Hosting

  • The views of my guests do not constitute "truth." Nor do they reflect my personal views in some instances. However, they are important views to be aware of. Nothing can replace your own research and exploration.

About The International Leadership Association (ILA)

  • The ILA was created in 1999 to bring together professionals interested in the study, practice, and teaching of leadership. 
Show Notes Transcript

Abigail Lynam, Ph.D., is Faculty for Fielding Graduate University’s Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Development and Faculty and Coach for Pacific Integral’s Generating Transformative Change program. Her scholarship and practice sits at the intersection of personal and systemic transformation and development, the area of emphasis being adult developmental psychology applied to adult learning, coaching, social change, and leadership development.

Geoff Fitch is co-founder and faculty at Pacific Integral, and has been creative leader, coach, and educator exploring diverse approaches to cultivating higher human potentials for over 25 years, including somatic and transpersonal psychology, mindfulness, creativity, leadership, integral theory, and collective intelligence. Geoff also has more than 30 years of experience in leadership in business. He holds a Master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Boston University.

A Quote From This Episode

  • "Sometimes people describe it as being out at sea in a boat...floating on the ocean with no oars and no land in sight. A certain kind of faith and trust needs to happen in the 'letting go' because we're waiting for what's next to come. And that can be quite disorienting."

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

More About Series Co-Host, Dr. Jonathan Reams

About  Scott J. Allen

My Approach to Hosting

  • The views of my guests do not constitute "truth." Nor do they reflect my personal views in some instances. However, they are important views to be aware of. Nothing can replace your own research and exploration.

About The International Leadership Association (ILA)

  • The ILA was created in 1999 to bring together professionals interested in the study, practice, and teaching of leadership. 

Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate, and conversations-to-text do not always translate perfectly. I include it to provide you with the spirit of the conversation.

Scott Allen  0:00 
Okay, everybody, welcome to Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders. Thank you so much for checking in wherever you are in the world. This week. I am with once again my co-host, Jonathan Reams, we have this series...he has edited a book. It's called Maturing Leadership. And we're talking about the intersection of adult development theory and leadership and having a series of conversations with authors from that edited volume. Jonathan, how are you today, sir?

Jonathan Reams  0:30  
I am good. I am really enjoying these conversations and looking forward to the one today.

Scott Allen  0:36  
So today, we have Geoff Fitch and Abigail Lynam. Geoff is co-founder and faculty at Pacific integral and has been creative leader coach, and educator exploring diverse approaches to cultivating higher human potentials for over 25 years, including somatic and transpersonal psychology, mindfulness, creativity, leadership, integral theory, and collective intelligence. Geoff also has over 30 years of experience in leadership and business. He holds a master's degree in transpersonal psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and a BS in computer science from Boston University. Now, Dr. Abigail Lynam is faculty for Fielding Graduate University's Ph.D. in human and organizational development and faculty and coach for Pacific Integral's Generating Transformative Change program. Her scholarship and practice sits at the intersection of personal and systemic transformation and development, the area of emphasis being adult development, psychology applied to adult learning, coaching, social change, and leadership development. The two of them are in the Pacific Northwest, the beautiful Pacific Northwest in the United States. And what else do listeners need to know about the two of you, thank you so much for being here!

Geoff Fitch  1:56  
Thank you. Thank you, Scott. Well, one thing they need to know is that we're married.

Scott Allen  2:04  
That's good to know. 

Geoff Fitch  2:05  
We're all we're all in. Thanks so much for the welcome. Yeah, it's really, really appreciate it. It's really, really glad to be here and happy to be part of this conversation that's really near and dear to our work. And I look forward to it.

Scott Allen  2:23  
Abigail, anything you want listeners to know?

Abigail Lynam  2:26  
Yeah, and thank you, again, for the welcome really looking forward to the conversation. And it's great to reconnect with you, Jonathan, after a number of years. I would just add that, you know, we're both, and I'll speak for myself really care deeply about this experience of human unfolding and its relationship to the planet that we live on ecological and social change issues, and, and the way that developmental unfolding can really serve and support leadership.

Scott Allen  2:52  
Well, we're excited about the conversation today. And Jonathan, as always, I think you have a question ready to go out of the gates.

Jonathan Reams  3:00  
Before we get to a question, maybe a little context, I think one of the things I'm really excited about, and one of the reasons I invited Abigail and Geoff to contribute to this volume, is that there are many "lonely leaders" out there. And what I mean by lonely is they find themselves making sense of the world in a way that few people around them do. And so they start questioning or doubting themselves or finding a lack of adequate support to meet their growth edges in their development. And the Generating Transformative Change Program at Pacific Integral to me, has been a real intentional effort to provide a program community and process for leaders like that. And I think because that kind of transition in the more mature stages for these leaders is so important to do in a good way and to support in a good way. So really excited that Geoff and Abigail could contribute and are able to join us in the conversation today. And the first thing I think that might be helpful for listeners is just if you guys could give a little context about Pacific Integral and The Generating Transformative Change program.

Geoff Fitch  4:31  
Yeah, I'll jump in to start with that. Thanks, Jonathan. I really appreciate the way that you frame that. And maybe we can come back to that the issue that was implicit in what you were saying there later; Pacific Integral was started in 2004, And we've been involved in the whole process of human and leadership development in many different forms throughout we do coaching, training and workshops, deep programs like Generating Transformative Change, working with a variety of different kinds of people really from around the world, our programs have been led here in the US also in Australia and New Zealand and in Africa, and one of the common threads is that we invite people in like you're saying, Jonathan, who feel like they're kind of in unknown territory, but also who see themselves as part of a larger story of what's going on in the world right now. So not just focused on their organization, but focus, really on this historic moment, on the time that we're in on the larger social and, you know, issues that we're facing as human beings. The core of that work has been the generating transformative change program, which is a kind of deep dive into community development practice that, in its current form, takes place over nine months and involves four residential retreats. So we really take people on a very deep process. And over this time, we've led hundreds of people through this kind of process, like hundreds of week-long residential retreats. So it's like it's really kind of stepping out of your lives into something quite unique and quite, quite deep in the work that we do. And for the right people, it really can be profound.

Jonathan Reams  6:34  
One of the things that I know are involved in this, of course, is a mix of theory and practice and process. And one of the things I'm curious about is how being explicit about the theory affects people's sense of the practice if you could say a little bit about that.

Abigail Lynam  6:57  
Yeah, that's an interesting question, Jonathan. The program itself, Generating Transformative Change, also have another program called Emergent Leadership, which is more of an online journey. But with, Generating Transformative Change (GTC) was informed by a number of different theories. One of them is adult development theory. Also, we work with Theory U; we work with theories and frameworks around working with polarities, bridging differences, shadow work, and so forth. So a number of different frameworks formed the program. adult development theory has been one of the shaping theories that we're working with, and obviously, is part of the focus of the series and the book, we integrated it in terms of a form a set of practices, but we also use it as a tool that, that we work explicitly with participants around in so that's the territory of the question that I hear you're asking, it's interesting that to learn about, you could call it a spectrum of development, or the development of consciousness itself seems to have a something of a psychoactive impact on folks. In other words, when we recognize that where we are developmentally isn't the end of the road, but there's actually more as possible than, then I think there's a, it opens up the territories of what might be next. So that's one of the ways that working explicitly with a theory can have an impact. Another is just recognizing and appreciating developmental diversity. So that's one of our deep ethical intents is that it's not about how far along the path you are or where you are on the particular developmental scale, but more how we meet each other at the moment in terms of our you know, sort of the multiplicity of perspectives that are present in any group space. And so it's actually an almost paradoxical sense and embrace of ourselves where we are, and then the inclusion of the gifts and the insights that come from the different perspectives. And so actually teaching the framework is another way to support that intention.

Jonathan Reams  8:57  
So I've experienced that partly as if you can give people more granular distinctions, they can understand their experience in richer ways. Is that a little bit of what you're describing?

Abigail Lynam  9:11  
Yeah, I think that it helps people to pay attention to those distinctions in those differences. And I do want to maybe re-emphasize the paradox because there is a certain element of because this is a, you know, it's a hierarchical scale of development, where we recognize there are increasing capacities that become available as we mature developmentally, you could then end up taking the view that "Oh, later is inherently always better." And so who in the room is on the later end of the developmental scale, and how can I, you know, privilege their perspective or seek to learn from their perspective, but actually what we find is that, of course, there are gifts wherever you are along the developmental scale and Oftentimes some of the more catalytic or transformative insights can come from, not from where you expect them to come from. There are critical contributions and profound insights that come across the full developmental spectrum.

Scott Allen  10:14  
I have not heard that phrasing before the developmental diversity, which I just love; as you think about designing experiences, how do you design programming where that diversity is honored and accepted, and there's space for all?

Geoff Fitch  10:31  
Yeah, it's really a great question. And it's a complex question. So I'll say a few things about it; it's probably a topic for a whole other book. You know, part of it is not just in the design. It's in how we hold the program. Because without the developmental perspective, what we're often doing is, as facilitators projecting our own particular depth developmental vantage point on what's happening in the program. So if you think of development as kind of a journey, and once you sort of see the bigger picture of the journey, you can see that a lot of the work that's done in the world is just for particular parts of that journey, a great program, but it's ultimately about here's how to cross this bridge on the journey really well. And that's really, that's really super helpful. And it's obviously just how the world works. And it's great. But when you're working with a developmental diversity and a developmental perspective, you begin to see that there are people, including ourselves, that are on all different points of that journey at the same time. So that begins to have you take a kind of different view of what what we're doing. And it's a part of the holding, and facilitation involves just awareness of where everybody is and a sensibility toward how they're interpreting and experiencing the processes that we're doing. So it may be, you know, in some cases, you may not change the design of a process. But you may help people at different places, from different points of view, make their own sense of what's happening.

Jonathan Reams  12:10  
So when I hear that, one of the things that come to my mind is the notion of a certain type of agility, as a facilitator to and having the lens to understand what's underneath a person's expression, what needs might be present. And I can also imagine that it's not that you're going to change every activity or exercise, but you might frame and position them in different ways or in multiple ways for a diverse audience. Is that a little bit of how you approach it?

Geoff Fitch  12:43  
That's right, Jonathan. And in terms of the design, it might also involve including aspects of a process that would be relevant to different developmental levels. So it might include bringing something in that would make the process effective and relevant for a later stage, for example, that might not be the part of the process that really impacts other folks and a different point of view. It's all of that and using language so that you can talk about what we're doing in different ways that connect with different people, you know, depending on where they're where they are, where they're coming from, not just developmentally, but culturally, personally.

Scott Allen  13:26  
So as the two of you are facilitating these retreats, my assumption would be that Jonathan, you just mentioned the word agility. You're working at the moment and trying to process what's happening for you, trying to process what's happening in the group? And are you partnered with someone so that, as a facilitator, you have a couple of different perspectives that are helping to make sense, even in your own mind?

Abigail Lynam  13:51  
Yes, we always have at least two faculty for each cohort group. And the cohort groups tend to be quite small, from 12 to 15 people, so we can work really intimately with the group. But also wanted to add another element to that: We're also seeking to support and develop those capacities within the cohort. So while we as facilitators are, of course, teaching and supporting the process, the intention is for the cohort to develop the capacities to really meet people where they are, include and also create possibilities for each other's developmental unfolding. So it's a both/and in that sense.

Geoff Fitch  14:31  
I wanted to bring kind of a little bit of a counter-example because that brings in a paradox, which is that the conversation we're just having right now points to the complexity of holding developmental diversity, but I wanted to offer this simplicity of it, which is that we just finished a program and we were in the last retreat of it, and one of the participants came up to me and said, you know, at the beginning of GTC, we, spent a lot of time working with development and the theory and then you Just stop talking about it. And what she was pointing to was, from another perspective, what we're talking about doesn't really matter. You know, some things transcend developmental stages. There are ways that we can be together that move more simply through the moment that doesn't require complexity; we bring that complexity to it. But also, you can find you can move beyond the developmental difference, too.

Jonathan Reams  15:27  
So that's a great transition for me because one of the things I want to acknowledge that there is a third author in this chapter, and Terri O'Fallon's influence on this work, of course, is quite central. And in terms of that, that you are talking about, Geoff, my description of her to people often is the most non judgmentally, present and curious person I've ever met. And so that seems to me to be an example of that kind of quality that isn't about development. It's about a state of being and openness to the world and curiosity of others. And this non-judgmental ness creates a space that is so important.

Geoff Fitch  16:12  
Absolutely, it's a key to what we're doing.

Abigail Lynam  16:16  
You know, we talk about in the GTC program and process that we ground the curriculum and the holding in meta-work capacities, which is a certain stage of development the in the stages model. But, fundamentally, the essence of that is interacting with one another from an I/though perspective. And it's a deep regard and respect for just human experience and the uniqueness and particularity of where each of us is in our unfolding lives. And I think that that can release some of that the complexity that Geoff was referencing, but also that, you know, the developmental stages even matter what's more important is the kind of heart and presence and spirit that we bring to one another at the moment.

Jonathan Reams  17:02  
And from the ground, though, I'm also aware that the program uses developmental assessments. And part of the process was the evolution of Terri's stages model. And while that's been alluded to a little bit in the prequel to this series, I think it would be helpful to understand a little bit about that model and what makes it special, and how you're able to utilize it in the program.

Geoff Fitch  17:29  
As you mentioned, Jonathan, that's a deep grounding of the program. And in fact, in the early, very early stages of the program, we started doing developmental research, I think in that second iteration of GTC, and now there's now been over 30 iterations of the program, we started doing developmental assessments before the program after the program. And that grew into a longitudinal research process where anyone taking GTC can take a developmental assessment every two years after the program. And part of that research and orientation was just this deep question of, like, what is development? How do we understand it theoretically? And how does it actually show up in life because we realized we were in this kind of unique opportunity, not just to go in and do a workshop or do an assessment, but actually kind of hang out and live with people for months on end and see how this actually showed up in relationship and individuals and people's lives. And, so that was the real curiosity that was born in it, and partner and one of the co-founders of Pacific integral, Terri O'Fallon, really took that on, and we began early on working with Susanne Cook- Greuter's model, which grew out of the work of Jane Loevinger, and then from that Terry developed The Stages Model, which is now become her principal focus in her work. And the stages model just briefly came out of some deep insights that she had about the underlying patterns in development. And she identified really three principal patterns that evolve in development; these are kind of iterating processes we go through that give rise to these layers, you know, later in later stages of development. So is it a deep simplification of the model? I remember when we were first doing the research, which really struck me that Jane Loevinger's scoring manual is about, you know, like, had like 500 pages in it. And Terry wrote this scoring manual for the stages model that had 23 pages in it, and going through that scoring process, we statistically validated the results. So it really pointed to me it was an illustration of how the simplification of understanding and the deeper principles that she discovered in the developmental process.

Jonathan Reams  20:01  
I can remember the excitement that I think it was 2010 at a conference in Santa Clara, where she was presenting some of the early patterns she was noticing; maybe you could say a little, either one of you about, I think there's like three core questions that everything revolves around. 

Geoff Fitch  20:20  
The three questions are "what objects rise in awareness?" And that points to these three tiers that we move through the Concrete/Subtle/Metaware tiers. That's the kind of largest rhythm of development; most people move through just the first two in their lives. So this is a kind of very granular pattern. And then the next one is "whether the focus is individual or collective?" And the third pattern is a pattern that moves through four different processes, but it's originally in the, in her understanding, is just "active and receptive." Are you active and receptive? And that kept refined into receptive, active, reciprocal, and integrative or inner-penetrative. So yes, those three questions, you know, what theory human is an individual or collective, and which one of those active receptive patterns are you in? And that gives you an orientation towards the stage now how to answer those questions a little bit more complicated. But those are the three patterns.

Jonathan Reams  21:20  
And that simplification, I think, has been helpful for many people. Now, you mentioned the term, and I think Abigail, you had earlier to "MetAware" and maybe for listeners, you might want to elaborate a little on what that means. And that's it maybe as a transition into how that transition into that became kind of a focus of your chapter and some of the things you're studying. 

Abigail Lynam  21:46  
The MetAware Tier, I'll say very, briefly, there's the Concrete Tier, which is objects that are physically visible, and you can say emotions that are a little bit more simple, like happy, glad, sad, mad. The Subtle Teir is the territory of thoughts and ideas and feelings that are a little bit more subtle then, the Concrete Tier, the things that we experience within us in between us, but we maybe can't quite touch or see with our see with their eyes. And the MetAware Tier is the territory of awareness itself. So it's this recognition and experience of ourselves as awareness itself. So there's for the individual who's experiencing this, the stages of the MetAware Tier, there's an experience of our ground of being itself as awareness. So one way of describing that is that there's the part of ourselves that is aware that we're aware. And this actually starts to arise as a State experience and a capacity a little bit earlier in the Subtle Tier as self-awareness. So we talked about having self-awareness, you know, we were some, we're aware to a certain degree of our emotions of our thoughts and that kind of a thing. And that self-awareness develops more into "awareness of awareness," we recognize that there's a dimension of ourselves that is ever present and never changing - always there. Sometimes it's called "the witness self."

Jonathan Reams  23:15  
And I can imagine, and this is part of what you talk about in the chapter, that I'm really curious for listeners to hear more about that, as an individual might start moving into that phenomenological experience, it could be quite disorienting.

Abigail Lynam  23:33  
Thanks for pointing to that, Jonathan. So one of the reasons we focused on this in our chapter is not because we privilege this particular set of stages more than the others but because a number of the participants in GTC are navigating that very transition. So we find that a number of the participants who are drawn to the program are somewhere between the 4.5 Strategist Stage and the early stages of the MetAware Tier, includes Construct Aware and Transpersonal. So there are many, not all, but many are navigating that very transition. And yes, it can be very disorienting. So we recognize, I'll just say briefly here that we recognize that in The Stages Model, it points to certain developmental shifts that are more catalytic and perhaps disorienting for the individual than others. And this is one of those.

Scott Allen  24:26  
Would you paint a picture for me of what some of that disorientation may entail, what that looks like, or what that person is experiencing?

Abigail Lynam  24:35  
Yeah, I'll say a couple more. And then maybe Geoff, you could add to it. So, one of the reasons, according to the stages model, one of the reasons that this is a more...this is a bigger developmental transition a more disorienting is that the individual is moving from the Subtle Tier to the MetAware Tier. They're moving from the collective focus to the individual focus, moving from this more inter-penetrative approach. to a more receptive orientation. So from the Stages perspective, it's, it's as many changes as possible in the model. You know, to step back from that and to look more, you know, kind of at the experiential level we talked about in the Subtle Tier, there's, we have a subtle ego that is our primary way of, of navigating the world. It's the kind of storyteller of the self. And as the person moves into the beginning stage of the MetAware Tier, they're starting to let go of the subtle self as the primary anchor to the self and start to develop a matter where ego, we could call it or this source of self-awareness - awareness itself. And so let me just make that a little bit plainer and give us sort of felt sense description of it. It's an experience of letting go of who we have been to discover who we're becoming. But there's a liminal space in there. So there's a process of letting go that happens before this new sort of source of self starts to be more graspable. And so sometimes people can describe that as being out at sea in a boat, you know, floating on the ocean with no oars and no land in sight. So there's a, there's a certain kind of faith and trust that needs to happen in the letting go because we're waiting for what's next to come. And so that can be quite disorienting. And I'll add one more element, which is that in some of these later stages, there's they're less common in our life contexts. And so there's less support to navigate what we're experiencing. So it's not that it's, it's inherently too much to handle, but that we don't have very many people in our lives to help us to recognize what's happening and to understand that it's actually it's, it's a beautiful thing, it actually brings a lot of gifts with it. So in that disorientation, sometimes people can feel like they don't know who to turn to understand a little bit of what they're experiencing,

Geoff Fitch  24:35  
We're getting to this really interesting point, right? Which has a couple of aspects to it. One is yes, at these later stages, having this kind of support is helpful. It's post-conventional stages. But at a deeper level, it points to me to something about development itself, which is that particularly, you know, in our kind of modern sensibility and our orientation towards wanting to grow and wanting to develop and evolve, we look at something like the developmental framework and think like, oh, "great, I know where to go, I'll climb the ladder, I'll get higher and higher, is better and better," you know, "I'll have great relationships and lots of money and make an impact on the world." And so we project that kind of hierarchy on this model, in another way, so it's in an in a true way, I'm joking, but in a true way, the later stages represent sometimes called stages of adult maturity. So it's like this implication that the later stages are more mature in some way or more, developed more complex, and that's all true. But in another way, the more that you go up in development, the less mature you are. And this is what I mean by this is that when we're all born, knowing how to be babies...completely expert babies, the minute we're born. And as we evolved, we got into more and more territories of human beings that have less history to them. So if you jump ahead into the kind of modern world, we have great institutions and practices and a whole civilization built around modernism. And then, as you get into the post-conventional stages, there are really interesting and complex things happening, and people are writing books about it and doing workshops and developing practices, but it's relatively new. And unelaborated. We don't have great meta-modern institutions that have been around for hundreds of years practicing this. And then when you get into the Metaware, it's even less so. Right? So you can; Abigail just gave a brilliant description of like making that transition. But the thing that doesn't come with it is the calming voice of Abigail Lynam explaining this is perfectly natural. It just happens, and you're wondering what's going on. And what do I do from here? You know, it's so the downside of that is that it's that there isn't a lot of understanding and at the stages, but the beauty of that is that it's unbelievably creative, that we get to enact and create novel ways of being and that we're not hampered by social conventions and institutions that there's an openness to the It's later stages as profoundly creative. So it's a paradox always.

Jonathan Reams  28:38  
So one of the things I'm quite curious about then is, what have you noticed or heard stories about whereas leaders out in the world are trying to navigate this transition, and they're a bit out at sea, what are the traps and pitfalls they often fall into? What are the consequences of having this less mature holding environment for them? And can be more creative but not necessarily have good guardrails around that. So what are some of the traps that you've heard about?

Abigail Lynam  30:43  
Because there doesn't tend to be much cultural support and structure around this developmental transition, and people do tend to experience it in somewhat of a solo way, often they don't know who to turn to when they're having this experience. And also, know this from developmental transformations across the developmental spectrum, as when we're growing and changing, when we're letting go of who we've been to encounter, who we're becoming, we often want to push off and away from what has been our life, that could be in the form of the job that we're in, you know, the work that we're engaging in, sometimes relationships, sometimes community and so forth. So there's a, there seems to be a tendency to want to shed older structures in our life to make room for the new. So that can be one of the pitfalls. Sometimes that's necessary, right, to free ourselves up so we can open up to some new possibilities. But that can add to the disorientation in a sense because if we let go of these things that have been anchoring who we are and our sort of day-to-day lives, that can leave somebody even more, you know, maybe perhaps swimming around in a state of not knowing or losing a sense of who they are. So there's a gift and a challenge, I think, to that tendency.

Jonathan Reams  32:03  
Yeah. Just a quick comment. I think, you know, Heifetz talks about adaptive challenges, you know, what's the 95% that stays the same? And what's the 2 to 5% that needs to change? And I think navigating what stays stable and to hang on to and what I really should let go of can be very difficult when there aren't social norms and good models for that.

Abigail Lynam  32:25  
Yeah, I think that's a really helpful distinction to make. And so it is it's discerning what can and should be released and what you know, what might be supportive of navigating the transition.

Geoff Fitch  32:36  
It's a really good way to look at it. And one of the challenges so to make, give some more examples of this question about the challenges. One of the challenges, as we move first into the Metaware tier into that first stage, is Abigail mentioned earlier, we're letting go of a whole identity, a whole societal identity, like our ordinary self, and moving into the sense of ourselves as a, as awareness itself. So that distinction, you know, of whether we hold them when we let go of them is almost very hard to navigate at that point because we're letting go of everything. And so then part of the work is to recover it. So in that receptive stage, the beauty of it is that there's an ability to be really present and responsive to the moment. So in that first receptive stage and Metawarelike, leaders are often really creative at Bing, in complex situations, and being able to sense and choose courses of action that are novel, and receptive to what's happening. But in terms of organizing their own act, action, and direction toward the future, it's more challenging. So it's a very "in the moment" stage.

Jonathan Reams  33:58  
Yeah, and as you're describing that, the felt sense I get is that you were talking earlier about "climbing the developmental ladder." And from a certain kind of meaning-making system, that kind of linear structure approach makes sense. And we all have the experience of that. My favorite way of describing it to people as you learn arithmetic first, then you learn multiplication and division, then you gradually learn algebra, and then maybe calculus but so there's a linearity to it, but I get the impression that in this transition is almost you "throw away the ladder," that is a different modality of evolution, rather than a developmental stage so to speak.

Geoff Fitch  34:47  
And it's paradoxical, right? Because you're getting to the rung on the ladder, which is called the "throwing away the ladder" rung. So it's it is also an evolution but it's also paradoxical that, at that, and really kind of every other stage is a stage that wants to let go of something that wants to kind of overturn, you know, the models and, and the hierarchies and, and those sorts of things. But it happens in a big way at that stage. But didn't then just give another example there in a way that kind of first Metaware stage you're, you're seeing in a way that we're all telling the story, you know, we're all constructing our own experience we're all if I were to be extreme about it is that like, Oh, this is all made up. And the beauty of that is there's creativity in it. But the struggle at that place is, and this is, the basic challenge of any developmental stage is not seeing our own seeing and then projecting that seeing on the world. So then the way I would do that, at that stage, is to look at everybody else and say, "Don't you see this all made up!?" And everybody's going like, "No, it's not," you know, the next stage after that is to discover like, oh, yeah, we're making up these stories about the world and the frameworks and the boundaries that we're putting on things. But that's a creative act. So I can do that in a way that can impact the world and make a change and help us evolve. I may be starting with a blank piece of paper, but I can write, and I can create something that has an impact. And then the pitfall at that point is, you know, tends to be complexity; I might over complexify things and not appreciate, not appreciate that doesn't have the impact that I want it to have.

Scott Allen  36:38  
have. Yeah, yes.

Jonathan Reams  36:41  
And I think, as you described that, then, you know, one of the questions in our mind in this series is always, you know, the implications for leadership. And part of what I hear you saying, then, of course, is that there is an opportunity to be creative, at any level, but at this level, there's a certain type of kind of like going up Donella Meadows', "leverage points in a system," right? And the highest leverage points are around the mindset or the paradigm shift. And so here I hear you describing that leaders could make creative interventions, levels that allow them to have maybe not even in their lifetimes and impact, but it may start a meme or a seed or something that can create a space for a few people who pick it up and do something with it.

Geoff Fitch  37:37  
That's right. Okay, it's very that you're pointing to one of the things that evolve as we evolve, which is our sense of time and space. And it's a very deep time, very wide horizon it's engaged with at this level,

Jonathan Reams  37:52  
Well, and now we're going to collapse the time because we're running out of time. As much as we could go on...

Scott Allen  38:04  
Listeners, we're going to leave you in the deep end! Well, I think it's exciting because there'll be an opportunity for listeners to engage with your chapter. And I think we've provided enough of an introduction to some of the thinking that now those who are interested can go and explore a little bit deeper. And, of course, we will put links to the show notes to resources that could actually help people delve a little bit deeper still.

Abigail Lynam  38:38  
Yeah, I wanted to add one additional piece, which is, you know, maybe it adds a bit more complexity to what we've been talking about. But I want to acknowledge that we've been talking about, you know, what this developmental stage transition looks like, and how leadership might be expressed and experienced from the construct we're in - transpersonal stages, but just to recognize that, that all of us have a multiplicity of developmental stages that we're operating from moment to moment, and what's more important is how healthy and whole we are at any one of these stages, not how late we are. And you know, in these later stages, their shadow and blind spots just as much as there are at any of the previous stages. And so I don't want to over-idealize what it means to be a leader from these later stages. And actually, to recognize that, you know, with these increasing capacities that come with developmental maturity, also as is necessary to be paired with humility and humbleness around the harm we can do in the world, and you know, how we're always partial or always missing something, and they're, you know, there can be a little bit of easier access to that humility in these later stages, because there's a greater likelihood to see one shadow and so forth at play, but not always. And so I just want to recognize and acknowledge that. That it's again, these, you know, these stages bring tremendous gifts and also are always only see a part of the larger hole.

Jonathan Reams  40:07  
Yeah, and there are two things that come up for me with that. One is I remember Susanne Cook-Greuter wrote about this, and, you know, people idealize, if you just got a team of Metaware people together, they'd be so great. And she's well, "maybe, but they also might just have a clashing of much more complex shadows." So it can, you know, there is that possibility, but it's not a given. And I think that's really important. And the second is the distinction between how a person might make meaning and have the capacity to, and their performance in a given moment in a given context, which can vary wildly.

Scott Allen  40:52  
Say more about that real quick, Jonathan. Give me an example.

Jonathan Reams  40:55  
We'll have a conversation later about fallback or regression. So just because you make meaning in a more mature complex way, doesn't mean you can't still be an idiot, you know, you can get triggered with some emotional trauma from childhood that, that activates some responses pattern in that you're not aware of now, and is much less mature. As Geoff said, we know how to be babies; we're really good at that. And that can take over at times.

Scott Allen  41:26  
Well, and I think in his Gosh, this might be 1985, Jonathan Karl Kuhnert, in his article with Louis, where they're talking about leadership, and you might have someone this is going to kick in now. But you may have someone who is at the self-authoring stage and really struggling to communicate with individuals at different developmental levels; they might not connect, and they might not influence that faction of people. If they are coming off, as you know, a little above the minds of you know, I go back to that whole. But you know, John Kerry said, I think it was Kerry, "I see complexity." Well, that sounded like "gobbly gook" to factions of people. And you know, what, it may not have helped him "flip-flopper" or "lockbox" or, you know, sometimes translating to different levels. I think it's a fascinating conversation; I really do.

Geoff Fitch  42:28  
Yeah, what both of you are saying is important to, I think, in a way to leave us with this. And that there is how we show up, you know, our, you know, one of our teachers, the meditation teacher, Dan Brown, psychologist who recently passed away, will always point to. He's teaching a path of enlightenment, essentially, and you will always point to the measure of your realization, is your conduct. So there's, there's you're speaking to, you know, capacities that you need at each level, but also how you show up, you can even have capacities to speak to different levels to do what matters at the moment, and not bother, you know, it's there's an ethical orientation that's needed here, which is that it's how we show up and every day, and that doesn't matter what developmental level, we're at. It matters whether you just use your life to make a difference on a day-to-day basis. And it's just a really important point that you've brought up, Jonathan.

Abigail Lynam  43:31  
You know, in the GTC program, it's one of the reasons that we were always working at the sort of the intersection between the I and we, the individual and the collective, because, you know, while leaders, leadership can feel like a lonely act, it's always in a relationship. And so the developmental work that we do in the context of the program is in the context of a collective because it brings out sometimes not the best of us, but it actually creates the possibility to grow up those parts of ourselves that have actually been harmed in relationship harmed and in communities. And so, it's the necessary context for, you know, for what it means to grow and mature and develop our conduct as individuals, as leaders and contributors to society.

Scott Allen  44:13  
Well, we appreciate your time today. And we're thankful for the good work that you're doing. Thankful for helping us better understand how you're seeing what you're practicing and what you're engaged in. And I think listeners have a wonderful opportunity. I will put a link to the book in the show notes. So listeners can explore that and access that resource, and learn more. One thing we always do when we wind down the conversation is just ask our guests what has caught their attention recently. So it may have something to do with what we've just discussed. It might just be a cooking television show that you've connected with on Netflix...something that's caught your eye recently you've been streaming, you've been watching, you've been reading, what's something that's come on to your radar that listeners might be interested in?

Geoff Fitch  45:03  
I watched this show recently - Severance. It's a really fascinating show. There's just one season of it out. I forget what channel it's on. It's called Severance (Apple TV). In a sense, to me, it looks at identity and also how we dissociate from ourselves. It's a kind of sci-fi, a little horror thriller. Really smart, really smart. Yeah, I'm also a jazz musician, and I, you know, if you don't want to watch a weird television show, go listen to Miles Davis or...

Scott Allen  45:40  
I'll link the show notes to which Miles Davis you would like listeners to check out?

Geoff Fitch  45:49  
Start with Kind of Blue?

Scott Allen  45:50  
Okay, okay. Okay, Abigail, how about you? Something that's caught your attention recently?

Abigail Lynam  45:55  
You know, I'll say what's caught my attention in this conversation is where we just ended - talking about the importance of conduct and, you know, so I'm not referencing something in, you know, kind of our social media world or media world to point to, but just the importance of kindness. It actually, to me, just feels so fundamentally important, which is just how we are with one another in our day-to-day lives. A sibling just sent me something from, you know, just some gift that she received unexpectedly, just recently. How we can really impact one another's days and lives just by simple acts of being kind.

Scott Allen  46:32  
I am going to Okay, in honor of you, I'm going to put one of my favorite articles, there was an article in The Atlantic. And it was called Masters of Love. But they explored what really was the key to long-lasting relationships. And it came down to kindness.

Geoff Fitch  46:52  
Yeah. Beautiful. 

Scott Allen  46:55  
Absolutely. Wonderful. Well, thanks to the two of you for being with us today. Thank you so much for the work that you do. And for listeners, we have all kinds of links in the show notes. Jonathan, as always, still holding down the fort in Norway, right?

Jonathan Reams  47:09  
That is correct.

Scott Allen  47:12  
Have a great day, everyone. Be Well, bye. Bye.

Abigail Lynam  47:15  
Thank you so much. Thank you!

Transcribed by