perceptionBy Margot Cairnes. Most people view themselves and their perception of the world by their role, past achievements, their power and status, or through their possessions. They can only evaluate their self-worth through the eyes of others, demanding constant external validation. This level of socialised thinking inhibits their ability to form mature relationships and to truly appreciate the view point of others.

A small percentage of the adult population, however, breaks through this level of thinking to become independent thinkers. Visionaries and game changers in their respective occupations or fields of interest. It’s these independent thinkers that bring about innovative and positive change to the world.

Stages of development

Basing their research on the work of Prof Robert Kegan of Harvard University School of Education, Bob Anderson, Eric Klein and Jim Stuart from the Leadership Circle argue that our perspective and perception of the world is based on our stage of personal development and that adults can pass through many stages of development.

Each development stage corresponds to an increased level of thinking, increasing our ability to think through issues and discover new solutions to complex problems. Most of us never make it to the highest level of thinking and 15% of adults never make it out of an early development stage.

What stage any particular individual is at is determined by a number of factors including upbringing, genetic disposition, current life responsibilities, and so on, but we all have the opportunity to change and develop.

Raising our capacity to think

We may be limited by our current capacity and level of thinking, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change. It’s our choice. We can choose to work on our level of development and therefore our capacity to think at higher levels or stay stuck at a lower level. The challenge is that this is not an intellectual process but an emotional and spiritual journey.

The more we can raise the level of thinking within our communities, institutions, and businesses the more capacity we have to address the wicked and immensely complex problems facing the world.For organisations, the more they can raise the level of thinking of their management and staff the greater they are at adapting to change and solving complex problems.

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