Ways to Become Effective: the Ultimate Typology

Warren Kinston 1. May 2013 09:00

Mastery: it takes willingness.  More particularly it depends on learning in a way that uses your willingness to the full.  But you have to be willing.

I am always amazed at just how often willingness is omitted in academic models and management consulting tools.  Even the famous GROW model: Goals, Reality, Options, Will pussyfoots.  But willingness cannot be taken for granted and, rather than being synonymous with will, it is the 7th Level in the Will Hierarchy.  Consciousness in Western society has not yet fully embraced this highest experience-dominated level (nor the 7th Level of many other THEE frameworks).

Learning is a manifestation of willingness-PH7 and is current located at level-6. Becoming maximally effective, mastering something that is important to you, is surely related to learning.  I noticed that mastery can be developed in distinct and contradictory ways. This is precisely what characterizes a Principal Typology in THEE.

A dollop of generous help has let me work out the Principal Typology nested in Learning-L6 within Willingness-PH7.  This blog provides some initial thoughts: there is a lot more work to do to get proper definition and clarity, to understand influences and correspondences—as I will explain at the end.  There will be mistakes and surprises along the way, I'm sure.

From the need to try and try and try (PH7-L1) again, comes repetition, rehearsal or the method of practice.  Everyone gets good at what they do again and again.  You want to become a writer: OK, then write every day, whether you feel like it or whether you don’t, whether you like the subject or whether you don’t, just write and write and write.  As the old joke about asking street directions has it: Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  A: Practice! Practice! Practice!

You can also learn in a way that depends on a willingness to believe (PH7-L2).  Believe it or not, this method is about learning via analysis.  The whole point of deduction, induction, laws of logic, established facts and the whole shebang of scientific inquiry is that it is founded on assumptions.  Assumptions that seem so obvious, so axiomatic—at least to those who hold them which is most of us—that they are barely noticed.  Remember what Wittgenstein said: at the core of all well-founded belief, lies belief that is unfounded.  So trust scientific investigation and the consensus on reason: don’t worry that holes can be picked in the best arguments. So what if modern physics can only describe less than 5% of matter and energy in the universe—it's a triumph.  As you long as you believe, you’ll learn a lot and you’ll go far. 

Remember the saying that there are none so blind as those who will not see?  That often applies to ultra-rational believers.  So they miss or downplay a different way to learn and that is just by looking for yourself, observing and pondering, reflecting and wondering.  You can definitely learn through insight … which obviously gives primacy to seeing (PH7-L3).

A much friendlier approach ,for those who are sociable, is to share experiences and views with others.  Of course this depends on the willingness to join (PH7-L4) in discussions and actively participate in teams, seminar groups, workshops, retreats and the like.  Learning by participation also includes reading.  Good authors seek to share their views with readers and so how readers give attention and value will determine what they get out of the book.  Lectures, by contrast, are rarely about sharing!

So moving onwards and upwards, there is what I like to call learning by experience.  This is something that has been promoted on the TOP website—but I wrote that largely unaware of what learning entails.  I now think that all of these methods involve a sensitivity to experience and depend on intuition.  So it seems better to be clearer and refer to learning by trial and error, or learning by experiment.  But not scientific experiment because the goal is not to produce knowledge that others will use.  Not at all.  The goal is to try something out and see how it works for you in the actuality of your life and given your abilities and temperament.  If you succeed, then you have learned something.  But if you fail, then you enter a world of pain and loss, humiliation and frustration. Still, you will also have learned something.  They say that experience is the best teacher: and that’s why it is so expensive.  

I call this the School of Hard Knocks, because you are in the thick of it.  Learning by experiment is not rehearsal, it is the first night and if your show flops, that is an awful lot of time and money down the drain.  You have to pick yourself up, and start again.  It’s not so much about trying as about fighting (PH7-L5).  Lifelong learning is an endless struggle against something far more powerful and uncontrollable than personal blindness or ignorance: you must battle the fickle finger of fate.

Now we come to a method that gives primacy to willingness at L6, that is to say to learning (PH7L6).  Strange: a method of learning that is based on learning!  Paradoxical even.  I think this must be traditional pedagogy i.e. learning by being told—like the times table.  Learn by rote.  You methodically assimilate the knowledge in any way you can.  Here is where chalk-and-talk lectures, flash-cards, mnemonics, manual-style text-books, exercises with correct answers, all come into their own.  I like it.  The investment manual says "Buy Low" and I see that everyone around me is buying high like there’s no tomorrow.  But I won’t join in, because I don’t want to learn from experience that participating in a mania is bound to lead to tears.  Nor is it a matter of belief.  There is no emotion or questioning in the process.  If you want to check for yourself that 2+2 = 4—there are over 25,000 steps to that proof—good for you.  But, frankly, that has nothing to do with becoming effective.  At the age of 4, learning is not about understanding how or why 2+2 = 4, but rather not making mistakes when buying candies because you have been told and now know for sure that 2+2=4.

Finally, the highest level of willingness is trust-PH7L7, and here the approach is one of learning by example.  You find a master: originally your parents, and you fuse with them.  I provisionally call it the identificatory method.  It involves submission to authority at a far deeper and more personal level than found in traditional pedagogy.  Fusion is fostered by charismatic forces so if we want to transform ourselves we tend to seek out another with charisma.  This is tricky, because those who are charismatic have commonly trained themselves to deceive willing followers.  But charisma is not needed: proximity, “sitting by Nellie”, and a focus on entering the mindset of the other is quite enough.

So there you are, the 7 ways that we each have to become more effective at anything we do: practice endlessly, analyse using axioms, develop insights, participate with other learners, get experience, assimilate authoritative assertions, and learn by identification. 

Still, please don't be taken in by what is written above.  

It's plausible and it's pointing in the right direction, but it's not right taxonomically.  Not at all.  For example: it confuses learning within protected educational settings and learning within everyday life. Since drafting the blog a couple of months ago, I've spend time sharpening up names, properties and relationships, and doing some structural work on the tertiary hierarchy. So I'm confident that quite a few changes are required. Nothing that rings true is lost, but applying taxonomic principles increases both precision and power greatly.  

As soon as I can, I will have the proper story (still provisional) posted in the TOP Studio.

See you there—or back here in my next blog.



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Warren Kinston is the creator of the THEE-Online website as an open forum for the further discovery and development of THEE. He writes this blog as an escape valve for the excitement and frustrations of the work. More info here.

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