Systems Thinking series #2 : Personal Mastery

 In Thought Leadership

Embracing personal mastery is inevitable

As Agile practitioners, if we are serious about the business of improving organisations, teams, leaders and individuals, we must inevitably embrace the concept of personal mastery, as one of our most effective improvement tools.

Peter Senge, the author of the 5th discipline, put forward an approach for organisations to become learning organisations, where collective intelligence is greater than individual intelligence. Supporting organisations to thrive in our complex world. Frederic Laloux introduced next generation organisations, Teal organisations, in Reinventing Organisations. With a perspective that work is a place for individual and collective unfolding, where people learn to listen within and go where life calls them.

Organisations can only learn through individuals that learn. Individual learning is not just focused on skills and competencies; to recognise our full potential will require an understanding of what is most important to us and continually expanding our ability to create the results that we truly seek – Personal Mastery.

How does personal mastery improve work?

People with the highest level of Personal Mastery share some basic characteristics, they have a sense of purpose that lies behind their visions and goals, for them a vision is a calling rather than simply a good idea. People with higher levels of Personal Mastery are more committed, they take more initiative and have a broader and deeper sense of responsibility in their work.

To understand this sense of purpose takes time and focus. Too often we spend a lot of time addressing what is in our path and we forget what path we are on. The result is that we have a dim or inaccurate view of what is really important to us. This leads to dissatisfaction.

Once we can be clear on what is important to us, our individual purpose, we can then create a clear personal vision. This then creates a “creative tension”, the gap between our current reality and our vision. Striving towards this vision is vital. Research from economics, positive psychology and behavioural psychology has proven that those who have a clear sense of purpose are happier, more fulfilled, more resilient.  It is critical to individual and collective thriving.

Time to challenge our conditioning

Too often we are conditioned to have a dominant belief that we are not able to fulfill our desires; there is evidence that this is is an almost inevitable by-product of growing up. “We are constantly told we can’t have or can’t do certain things, and we may come to assume that we have an inability to have what we want”. Perhaps we tell ourselves that our vision is too grand, we are not ready, it’s not for us, it’s unrealistic, we worry what others may think. We become anxious and we compensate by lowering our vision, this allows us to escape these emotions; the only price we pay is abandoning what we truly want.

This is conditioning that has been adopted over time, given to us or we inherit it from others, is not truly ours. The essence of Personal Mastery is a relentless willingness to root out the way we limit or deceive ourselves from seeing what is. Generally, we are well versed in creating that deception, to lead a more “comfortable” life.

So as professionals, and as human beings, if we have forgotten the path we are on yet are in the business of helping others, it is timely to look once again at our purpose.

Join me in London to learn more

On April 24 I will be joined by Phil Askew in a session for the Psychology of Agile Scrum Meet Up. In the session we will lead you through a number of exercises that will help you identify some of those limiting beliefs. We will help you gain clarity on your limiting beliefs, bringing them alive through personification as an inner critic.  Additionally, we’ll guide you through a visualisation to get in touch with your Outer Innovator, someone who knows your true purpose.

We will leave you with some simple but powerful tools to change your perspective and begin to see what is. Tools that will enable you to continually challenge your theories of why things are the way they are.

With these tools and a little more clarity on your own sense of purpose, not only will you positively impact your life, but you’ll be able to recognise what is holding back those whom you support. With this knowledge you will be able to assist them in their own development and positively impact their lives.

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