The Strategist–the highest expression of the individual “me”
Last time I discussed the Individualist, the first of the postmodern developmental stages as described in the work of developmental expert Susanne Cook-Greuter. Now I’d like to move beyond that to the highest postconventional stage, the Strategist.
The Strategist is the highest developmental stage in which a person’s sense of self is built around a separate self, a separate individual “me.” Though in the postconventional stages there is a new awareness that everything and everyone exists in relation to everything and everyone else, and that everything is connected, the center of one’s experience is still a separate me who observes and experiences this interconnectedness. (In the stages beyond the Strategist we’ll see a new perspective in which the self is not centered in the separate self.)
The Individualist, the previous stage, is able to take a fourth person perspective, standing back from his own life and observing himself as he observes himself in his past, present, and future interactions with the world. This was a huge developmental achievement in terms of an expansion of awareness and the ability to take what I (and others) have called a witness perspective. This wider perspective gives the Individualist (again, the stage we looked at in my previous post) a unique view of the world and his place in it.
The Strategist takes this perspective even further. Not only does he see his own past, present, and future and that of his family, he adds an awareness of his own lifespan, the lifetimes of his children, and their children, and that of previous generations, and how all of this fits into the context of the broader society and culture.
Watching from this even wider perspective, the Strategist sees patterns, trends, and systems on an even larger scale than did the Individualist, which he then uses to strategically navigate the world and his life–hence the name of this stage. The Strategist, then, has a systems view of reality, allowing him to comprehend and deal with complex, multiple, interconnected systems of relationships and processes. The ability to hold all of this complexity in awareness, and to effectively and resourcefully respond to it and act from it is quite an achievement.
Individualists are able to see the many conflicting aspects and polarities within themselves and in the world. The Individualist deals with these unresolvable conflicts and paradoxes in part by remaining in the moment and allowing life to be as it is. There is still some confusion, however, about exactly how to navigate “what is” in a take charge way. The Individualist sees the paradoxes and contradictions of life, and accepts them, but in a passive, non-agentic way. It’s as if the Individualist resigns himself to ever ultimately knowing who he really is. The Individualist says, “I can’t control things, so I’ll just accept that fact and groove on the moment.”
The Strategist, on the other hand, has found a more sophisticated–and more practical–way of dealing with the paradoxes and polarities of life. Instead of merely resigning himself to the way things are, the Strategist is better able to integrate and own many different and conflicting parts of himself and actually work with the ever-shifting contexts of life in a practical way. This is made possible in part by the Strategist’s new ability to consciously and intentionally generate his own meanings, to “write his own story.” The Individualist sees that all meaning depends upon the context and the relationships involved, but has not yet figured out how to be in charge of this meaning-making in a practical way.
The Strategist is able to take charge of his meaning-making in a way the Individualist could not. As a result, he navigates the constantly shifting contexts he experiences, without being flustered by them. “No story is real,” says the Strategist, “but that doesn’t matter. I can create a story in this moment in order to create the outcome I want, even if that story doesn’t represent ultimate truth.”
(As an aside, I want to point out that this ability to “write your own story”–to consciously and intentionally direct your mind in order to create the reality you want, rather than allowing unconscious programming to automatically write a story you may not like–is one of the main goals of the first of my Life Principles Integration Process online courses (www.centerpointe.com/life/preview). In my first course I take you through what you need to learn, developmentally, in order to master this ability.)
Feeling that he can write his own story, the Strategist feels in charge of his own psychological well-being. He feels–and demonstrates–a new sense of personal responsibility about the creation of his own meaning and his own life. This feeling of being in charge allows Strategists to rediscover, reown, and integrate aspects of themselves that were too confusing or threatening for the Individualist to acknowledge. The result is a new sense of wholeness, and this new holistic self is a hallmark of this stage.
It is important to a Strategist to appear to have his act together and to make reasoned and resourceful choices. Persons at stages after the Strategist no longer feel this need, and are more willing to choose what appear to be less mature behavior styles, or be more spontaneously “outrageous” in their behavior. It’s still important to the Strategist, however, to avoid appearing foolish, or to avoiding acting in what might appear to be emotionally immature ways. If this happens, however, he can be forgiving and understanding of himself.
With a perspective and a logical system allowing an easier integration of psychologically paradoxical elements, the Strategist has less need for defensive strategies, and is therefore capable of greater spontaneity and greater tolerance of the foibles of others. Good and bad traits are seen as part of being human, both in oneself and in others.
His increased awareness of his interconnectedness with others, and his ability to actually interact based on that awareness, allows the Strategist to receive valuable feedback from others and see into parts of himself he might otherwise be blind to. The Strategist sees his connection with others and the feedback it provides as a necessary part of reaching one’s full potential, a key value to Strategists. This appreciation of others can in fact be so strong that at times it becomes a deep, non-possessive love.
Strategists can sometimes fear that they will fail to fulfill their potential or live by and embody their most valued principles, and they can become depressed if they feel they have not lived up to their own high standards.
Strategists are very self-reflective, constantly observing and reappraising themselves, others, and the world. This insightful watching is one of the Strategist’s most satisfying pastimes. Strategists are motivated by their own growth, fulfillment, and self-actualization, but also by that of others. The desire to help others grow can lead them to become therapists, coaches, consultants, teachers, executives, and leaders. They can become impatient with others who are less motivated to grow–the central flaw of this stage. To a Strategist, higher development is better because it leads to a more a objective and realistic identity. Such authenticity is an important Strategist value.
The Strategist sees life as an individual journey, where each person must find his or her own way. There is no “right” path that applies to everyone, and no “right” destination. Human beings are responsible for themselves and their own fulfillment, and each person must come to terms with the internal conflicts of being human in his own way.
Strategists view seeking outside advice and help as a strength rather than a weakness, and feel comfortable with therapy, counseling, and other forms of external advice and counsel. Strategists, however, do not see their answers to life’s questions as necessarily fitting others. In their faith that each person can discover his or her own path through life, they generally refrain from imposing their solutions or meaning-making on others.
Strategists often find the mundane aspects of making a living a distraction from their real passions. If, however, their passion involves leading others, creating a great organization, or some other form of service to others, their contributions can be world-changing. Strategists can become charismatic leaders, following their convictions regardless of personal consequences. If their convictions lead them in a direction helpful to others the results can be hugely positive. If not, however, the Strategist can be a powerful negative force.
Strategists make use of all modes of information and understanding, including logic, dreams, fantasy, bodily intelligence, intuition, and their highly developed imagination in order to make sense of the world and make their desires happen in reality. Strategists are often intuitive, highly creative, outside-the-box thinkers.
The Strategist represents the highest level of understanding of the human condition in which the separate self is the central regulator. Susanne Cook-Greuter describes the Strategist as “able to generate a coherent sense of self as a complex system with a core center.” The Strategist has a type of stability the Individualist did not have, in that he can see the relativity of all positions, but despite the shifting nature of life is still able make choices in the moment that are in tune with the demands of that moment. And, as the epitome of an integrated self, the Strategist can simultaneously maintain stable and respectful boundaries between self and others while at the same time connect with others as fellow human beings in the journey of life.
In the levels beyond the Strategist we will see a movement away from an self-centric way of being in and making sense of the world and one’s place in it. A perspective in which the self is not the center is difficult for most people to imagine, but I will do my best to describe it in my next post, when I will talk about the next stage, the Magician, followed by a final post about the Unitive stage.
Before I go, though, here’s something you may find interesting. I have recommended Dr. Jim Hardt and his incredible brain wave biofeedback training many times. This training is pretty expensive, though. So I suggested that Jim create a low-priced training where you could come and watch others use his technology to access profound spiritual states. Here is what he came up with. This is amazing stuff, and I highly recommend it.
Announcing the new Alpha Master Class at the Biocybernaut Institute.
Today I am excited to tell you about a new way to go deeper into your spiritual consciousness than you ever believed possible…without spending 20 years in a Zen monastery.
Imagine enhancing your growth so that:
* You enjoy strong, rewarding relationships.
* Your career brings fulfillment and prosperity.
* You experience Peak Performance effortlessly.
* Your brain actually gets younger every day.
* Your intellect actually gains several more IQ points.
Sounds too good to be true?
Dr. James Hardt, a pioneer in neuroscience research, developed a program to help ordinary people like yourself) achieve all these results (and much, much more). You learn to tap into your own Million Dollar Brain Account to produce more alpha brain waves – the source of insight, joy and love – every single day.
This program transforms your life in just 7 power-packed days. James Arthur Ray (from The Secret) called it “mind-blowing.”
Thousands of seekers want to experience these results…and up to now, only a handful could be accepted and even fewer could pay the $15,000 investment.
But what if you could just come and learn from watching this program…the way musicians learn by watching Yo Yo Ma teach a special technique to 2 or 3 students? Or the way you learn by watching Dr. Phil help troubled teens?
The good news is…Dr. Hardt just announced a brand new way to gain intense personal growth by participating in the Biocybernaut Transformation Master Class program.You go UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL to watch ordinary people transform their lives through Dr. Hardt’s full Alpha One program. You experience a gripping psychodrama (you’ll be on the edge of your chair!) that keeps you intensely involved (so you vicariously experience the trainees’ full transformation).
==> Want to learn more? Click here to read more and download an application form for the Alpha Master Class on March 27-April 2 or May 3-9, 2008.
People tell us it’s so exciting, we’re actually proposing a new Reality Show based on Alpha One training (and you might be part of the pilot!).
The Master Class Program gives you a new depth of empathy for others (so you experience improved harmony and less conflict in your own life). You gain a deeper insight into thoughts and feelings of others, so you communicate easily and effortlessly with difficult people in your own life…even if you never could before.
Here’s How It Works
Imagine yourself entering our magnificent California training center. You meet daily with the trainees who volunteered to publicly train in the Master Class program.
You’ll hear trainees talk freely about their lives and their experiences: what challenges brought them here, why they have trouble forgiving, and what they really want to get out of life. And you’ll hear Dr. Hardt explaining how they’re changing…and how you can learn from their examples.
The cost of this life-changing program? Just $497. A fraction of the cost of the full 7-day intensive. Less than most people spend in 6 months at Starbucks.
And you get a mind-blowing, reality-bending experience that lasts a lifetime.
But we have to warn you: space is very limited. Our Center can accommodate a limited number of Master Class participants. We’re already getting requests, even before this public announcement. We don’t know how long we will offer this program.
So don’t wait. Sign up now…because we’re filling up fast.
Dr. James Hardt
==> Want to learn more? Click here to read more and download an application form for the Alpha Master Class on March 27-April 2 or May 3-9, 2008.
P.S.Do you have a friend or family member who’s driving you crazy – someone who desperately needs help?Bring them with you and watch them transform (fast) into competent problem-solvers.
P.P.S. On the fence about taking the full training yourself?Come join the Master Class.Then if you’re so enthused you want to experience the training yourself — no problem! We happily deduct the cost of your Master Class Participation from your Alpha Training.
In fact, get the best deal ever:Subtract an additional $500 off of the Full Alpha One Training if you sign up during your Master Class Training (because you already are on your way!).
Don’t forget to bring with you a copy of Dr. Hardt’s book The Art of Smart Thinking to save an additional $25! Need a copy? Visit Amazon.com or CLICK HERE to order from our website.Be well.
(click the player above to listen to this post)
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