Our last blog introduced four meta-principles to design learning. In this post, I will explore four domains of human development: waking up, growing up, cleaning up, and showing up. The meta-principles in our last blog can serve as a “background of wisdom” for these four domains.
First-Person, Intersubjective View
Before we begin, a note about development. We maintain that development today—given the pace of change and levels of complexity—demands deep learning, the kind that impacts a learner in a first-person way. This “first-person” experience is both immediate and “close to me.”
Briefly, third-person learning focuses on “them” and “it” – the research and topics to understand an objective view of content. Second-person learning focuses on “you” and “this” to process my experiences from a subjective view. First-person learning focuses on “I” to witness “my” learning first-hand as both content and process from an intersubjective view.
The intersubjective view focuses on lived experiences, both intimate and immediate, that disclose parts of me to myself. This learning involves translating immediate experiences as I distinguish, reflect, and question my “experience of being” by unlearning and integrating previous experiences that have defined who I am.
The four domains of development identify distinct types of learning. Waking up supports increasing awareness through the practice of mindful contemplation. Growing up expands agency through the acceptance of greater responsibility to enhance performance. Cleaning up integrates the many dimensions of our “self” through shadow work. Showing up refers to a commitment to serve humanity and the world.
Created by Integral theorist, Ken Wilber, this framework explores learning not as a process of understanding content but as a context for reimagining the learning process. Each domain offers access to a different aspect of learning. Often, an opening in one domain provokes insights or actions in another. If we examine our lives from the perspective of these four domains of development, we will find unexpected growth.
The process of waking up involves observing and questioning assumptions and worldviews. We calm our unsettled minds to create more space. We engage in mindful contemplation to experience the moment and to deepen emotional, mental, physical, and social awareness.
Practice over time will lead to an open and direct view of reality. In each domain of development, we continue to wake up, observing what has become familiar in a fresh way. The focus of learning in this domain will find us becoming clear.
Growing up involves taking ownership and agency of our lives by examining and curbing our compulsive habits and reflexive desires to cling and grasp.
In this domain, we form disciplines, structures, and practices to manage our choices as we allocate time, finances, and energy. We enhance performance and gain an intentional view of reality. Growing up will also lead us back to waking up as growth is always non-linear, and we continue to expand our awareness.
Our focus on becoming intentional in this domain will increase performance.
In the domain of cleaning up, we become a gentle warrior for freeing ourselves from concealed constraints and fixed patterns such as defense mechanisms and coping strategies, as well as darker, self-destructive habits, and areas of unworkability in our lives.
Cleaning up requires the courage to include and integrate our individual past and our history (heritage/culture/nationality), which may involve examining our shadow self. The Jungian shadow is composed of the dark and unknown aspects of personality. It can be both positive and negative; most people focus on the negative, repressed, or primal aspects of the shadow. (See video by Jack Kornfield.)
Carl Jung saw the “first important work of a person’s life as the development of the ego— establishing how one is in the world.” Unless we are willing to spend time here, little growth is possible. What constrains us lies in our shadow.
The focus on cleaning up will find us becoming grounded to begin the process of integration.
A LEADER’S SHADOW. Jung was clear that until we examine and develop our ego, we cannot engage in spiritual development. Rushing past the ego reifies our spirituality as another “identity.” This is harmful to our growth (growing up), and to showing up, as the ego’s desires will dominate if we are not aware of our shadow.
Likewise, a leader’s shadow will dominate organizational life. Whatever a leader conceals consciously or unconsciously will reveal itself when the leader is confronted by perceived threats, unpredictable change, or uncertainty.
As Woody Allen said, showing up is 80 percent of life. This is where others can observe leadership. The previous three domains focus on increasing awareness, developing competency and surfacing concealed parts of ourselves in a way that can lead to integration as we show up in this domain.
Showing up reveals commitment in action. While each domain involves some type of action, here we integrate all the previous domains to generate commitment and serve humanity in the world. Showing up involves our presence, what we attract, how we serve, and with whom we collaborate to co-create. This domain also includes and integrates discoveries to form our professional identity.
Engaging the world reveals gaps in previous domains as we begin to experience a cycle of learning and unlearning. With new space and structures, we continue to wake up, grow up, and clean up to show up more fully present, tuned-in, and available to serve.
The focus on integration and commitment in this domain will find us becoming whole.
An Integral Focus
Most development programs focus on competencies that improve showing up, using reductive performance measures. Without understanding the impact of waking up, growing up, and cleaning up, we can only improve showing up, marginally, based on our current understanding from past assumptions. We cannot create new openings.
Then again, venturing into growing up by identifying new skills or competencies also improves on what currently exists within the current view. Without a focus on waking up and cleaning up to unlearn concealed patterns and venture into new perceptions and possibilities, we will experience mild improvement.
To enhance performance both as competencies (content) and capacity (context), involves more than doing or producing more. It begins with being more: increasing awareness to examine and engage new views to express and execute new ideas.
Cultivating this level of development requires this “whole view” of learning and unlearning by recognizing tensions located in the previous three domains. With practice we learn to unlearn and address disagreements directly, surface and reveal impediments, and encourage greater participation and commitment.
Showing up draws from the previous three domains to venture beyond measurable performance to include emotional, mental, and volitional awareness, action, and commitment.
Tony Zampella is the learning designer at Bhavana Learning Group, which serves coaches, educators, and learning professionals and executives.
As an instructor, researcher, and designer of contemplative learning programs and practices, Tony’s work explores the human side of change by bringing wisdom to learning. His focus includes ontological inquiry, Integral meta-theory, and Buddhist wisdom to sustain contemplative practice.