Change and uncertainty is as inevitable as life itself. We cannot stop the world from turning. Whether we like it or not, we are all in constant interaction with each other and with the wider world. It is the cumulative effect of these interactions that shape our identity, form our relationships and make the world we live in. Recognising our interconnectedness may be the first step towards a more authentic development.
What I’m proposing is that, we cannot control change, but we can try to align our individual, interpersonal and collective development. Put simply, I think that the least we can do is try to live in ways that do minimal harm to others or the world around us and that the best we can hope for is to have a positive affect on each other and the wider world.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Understanding our interconnectedness increases uncertainty (it means, for example, that we cannot accurately predict the impact of our actions on others) and we don’t generally like to admit uncertainty yet alone engage with it. Yet, surely this is a more realistic, helpful and authentic perspective? However much we claim certainty, we experience life as process and change. We all crave security but without uncertainty there can be no improvement – yet alone any of the diversity, hope, wonder and excitement that gives life it’s true richness. Despite all my personal insecurities, I recognise that is only ‘in development‘ that we can be fully ourselves.
A more authentic development would recognise that we all have different starting points, tread different journeys and have had different experiences on the way. It might help us learn to value ourselves – and each other – for who we are rather than for what we might have done (or who we may become).
Accepting the changing, non-linear, nature of development may mean that we have to keep reflecting and adapting but this is both authentic and rewarding. Also, since we are involved with each other, the more clearly and honestly we can articulate our vision, the more effective our relationships will be – it is only when we are fully ourselves that we can truly support each other.
I’d also like to think that recognising our connectedness may draw us out of simplistic, dualistic (and inherently dependent) relationships into more genuine collaborations that emerge from a ‘ third space‘ where we can be at ease with ourselves, each other and the world – a welcoming, nurturing space, but also an uncertain, disruptive, critical space where variety, nuance and error are accepted and embraced as necessary constituents of learning and development. It may help us recognise that positive, authentic development is something we build together over time – it is only when we support each other that we can create positive, meaningful and lasting change.
So, where should we start? I suggest we start in a moment. Can you think of a moment when everything came together for you? When you felt most fully alive, engaged and in the world? Perhaps you have recognised that experience in others? Or, found a person or a space that seems to draw the very best out of us? Maybe, just for a moment, you’ve had a clear sense of meaning, connection and purpose and perhaps a glimpse of the possibility of a better world?
I think these moments matter, they are our most authentic, human moments. My hope is that if we could follow these moments they might lead us to a more authentic, collaborative, meaningful development. I have no idea where they will take us, authentic development cannot be a prescriptive process, but I think we might have some fun finding out – and we’ll certainly learn a lot on the way. I’d be delighted if you would like to join me on the journey!