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A Reactively Creative Web

As I was reflecting on the extraordinary conversations, facilitations and coaching I’ve been engaged with recently, I realized I’ve never written about some key transformational approaches centering on the reactive and creative elements of human development. The concepts and research by The Leadership Circle have become more and more impactful in my work as I’ve watched leaders and teams transform by facing their innate character flaws while at the same time stepping into and owning their breadth of resourcefulness as a leader.

The Stages of Adult Development The foundational concept is around the stages of adult development. While this can also apply to systems (organizations and communities), I’m going to apply this to individuals.

Source: The Leadership Circle.

When we are born we are all 100% egocentric and only know to care for our own needs (hunger, sleep) by crying. Over time, we move into a reactive stage. This stage is where we define ourselves from the outside in. You think I did great? Then I must have done great. You want to be my friend? Then I am loved. I got an A on that test? Then I must be smart. About 70% of the population never leaves this stage.

About 30% of us are able to live pieces of our lives or fully move into the creative stage. In this stage, we define our whole independent selves from within. You think I’m great? I’m so glad you are feeling so positive today. I’m feeling energetic and ready to co-create with you. You are my friend? I’m so grateful I have relationships to further our work and achievements. It is powerful to bring many minds together. I received a good performance review? This is data to help me grow and further my vision and values.

Integral and Unitive are the final stages where about 1% of our population moves. Though, this percentage may be shifting as we evolve. Basically the self becomes one with the whole. The work is in understanding our reactive and moving to the creative.

Reactive & Creative Perspectives In our reactive stage, we see problems that are fueled by our anxiety and fear and so we react to make them go away.  In our creative realm, we still have problems but we first look at things as part of the outcome and vision we seek to create. We are fueled by our desire to see those outcomes come to life and thus we respond and act accordingly.  It is a subtle but very powerful shift in how we live and lead.

The Leadership Circle describes the core creative competencies as relating, self-awareness, authenticity, systems awareness and achieving.

The Reactive Stage We all have some form of reactivity in us. The good news is that when we can see it, we can move beyond it. There are three main reactive areas.

  1. Complying is when a person gets a sense of self-worth by obeying the expectations of others rather than acting on what they truly want. Being conservative, pleasing others, conforming and being passive defines us when we are complying
  2. Protecting is believing self-worth is attained through withdrawal, remaining distant, being cynical, superior, rational and aloof.
  3. Controlling is the belief that self-worth comes from task accomplishment and personal achievement. When being controlling we are driven, perfectionistic, very ambitious and autocratic believing this will make us successful and keep us safe.

Where do you go when you are under stress or not operating at your best?  Most people usually have one dominant area while some may shift depending on the situation.

Brene Brown also calls these similar areas “shame shields” using the terms of moving away (complying), moving against (protecting) and moving towards (controlling).

The Benefits of Living & Leading from the Creative RealmLiving and leading within our creative realm is more courageous and generally feels better because we are fueled by our inner desire to create versus our anxiety to make problems go away. Further, years of studies researched by The Leadership Circle has proven that leadership effectiveness in the creative realm is directly correlated with business results. Operating in the reactive mode doesn’t ultimately mean you won’t be successful. It means that your success comes at a higher cost to yourself and those around you. However, the higher your reactive style, the greater impact it has on your overall leadership performance and thus business results.

Think of a time when you were operating at your absolute best or one of your greatest accomplishments. What was different in how you showed up?  What was different about how you felt inside?  Perhaps you were utilizing your creative competencies.

Becoming More Creative I believe the path to moving more fully into the creative realm is through the development of our emotional intelligence starting with self-awareness.  See my article “How Importance is Emotional Intelligence Anyway?”  I see it as a reactively creative web because when we understand and own our triggers (things which shift our emotional state), we move into a deep understanding of the underlying beliefs surrounding our reactive style (and remember we all have one). This understanding empowers us to move beyond our reactivity and more fully into identifying with our self and our values. We are able to then make decisions and take actions based on outcomes and vision. Continuously being aware and facing our reactive styles allows us to continue to grow into our creative realm -it is all connected and intricately weaved together.

We are at time in our world where we are in such utter need of transforming from reactive into creative consciousness. With so many people spending much of their waking hours at work, I believe if we can change the workplace we can change the world. What will you do to begin to transform yourself, your team, your organization and your community?  Need a partner for the journey?  Give us a call!

“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”
– Rumi