Is it possible Robert Kegan has misled us? Better phrased, is it possible that those of us who are really serious about understanding and using Dr. Kegan's adult development discoveries have let ourselves be seduced by the persuasive brilliance of his research?
I think so.
In recent weeks, I've been wondering whether, in my earnest desire to understand and apply the insights that Robert Kegan's offered us in his books about adult development (The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development, In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life, and Immunity To Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization), I, without thinking too much about it, simply assumed that Kegan's key ideas were true. Is it possible things are not so clear cut?
Last February and again this June, I published two blogs that challenged some of the adult development world’s most important precepts. For example, I suggested:
- Adult development is neither natural nor automatic. Adults do not simply move forward in a slow and steady fashion, one evolutionary truce at a time, toward more sophisticated and complex habits of mind.
- Adult development, in fact, is rarely a one-way process. It doesn’t just move upwards toward more sophisticated modes of thinking and feeling. Rather, in developmental terms, many adults are as likely to regress backwards as they are to evolve forward.
In the United States today, Robert Kegan’s 2nd Order of Consciousness has become the foundational worldview for 70 million American citizens. Kegan’s 2nd Order of Consciousness (OoC) is the default mindset for as many as 45% of the adult individuals now living in America. All of those who voted for Donald Trump for president last year. And more.
I offer this assertion as a warning. A proposition that suggests, as clearly as possible, the idea that those of us who care about things like global warming, democracy, and/or economic and political equality should be sure we’re fully aware of the fact that the dominant discourse in the United States is now being driven by the collective impulses of a besieged and punitive President and his aggrieved and angry followers. Individuals who almost certainly are fully immersed in, if not captured by, the darker aspects of what Ken Wilber, in his new thought paper, Trump and a Post-Truth World, is calling an
At this point in history, each one of us is beset with deep-seated existential anxieties. Each one of us is trying hard to cope with fears emanating from the dramatic threats that the world's ethnic, gender, terrorist, climate change, "nano-bio-info-cogo," and globalization phenomena are bringing to our front doors. Regardless of whether we're aware of it, each one of us, in our own ways, is struggling with an emergent world that terrifies us.
This is the conclusion I ended last month's blog with.
The key difference between what I was thinking last month when I offered this conclusion and today is that last month I didn't realize the phrase "each one of us" included me. Last month, I used the phrase "each one of us" three times, but each time I did, I didn't understand the existential threats I was listing for you actually terrified me too.
Today, after rereading my first three Natural Mind blogs ("Seduced by Kegan," "Our 'Natural Mind,'" and "Our 'Natural Mind' II"), I realize that all three of these blogs are contaminated by the existential anxieties I've been feeling in reaction to the ambient threats I've been writing about...