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The Covid Crisis and Adult Development

How developmental thinking can help us manage pandemic fears and move forward

May 15, 2020
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In a new, two-part webinar titled “The Covid Crisis and Adult Development,” Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey explore how adult leaders and learners can make sense of the current crisis. Drawing on their expertise in leadership coaching and human development — as captured in their Immunity to Change initiative (including a pioneering book and instructional courses) — they offer a contextual understanding of how people, organizations, and systems can move forward in a time of crisis.

>> Watch the webinar in whole, or watch Part I (with Lisa Lahey) and Part II (with Robert Kegan).

Three Takeaways, To Get Started

  • Start with yourself and acknowledge where you are and how you feel.
    • Our emotional life is informed by our individual developmental perspective. Some of us may be self-authoring (recognizing that our identity exists outside of our relationships and emotions) while others may have a socialized perspective (defining the self through relationships and emotions).
    • Our developmental state informs how we make choices about how we outwardly express our feelings. For example, someone with a socialized mindset may not feel it’s OK to talk about how they’re feeling, because those around them don’t signal that showing and talking about emotion is acceptable.
  • We need to take different kinds of care of each other amid this crisis.
    • Fear and uncertainty can often override our ability to be compassionate and empathetic. To combat this, Lahey recommends starting to take care of yourself. “When we have an unchecked self-protection system, it will always override our ability to love and be compassionate. Despite our best intentions, sometimes we may have a hard time being there for ourselves and one another,” she says. “The antiseptic to this emotional contagion is to turn the channel on to how we can be self-aware and provide empathy and kindness to ourselves and then to others.”
  • Recognition and re-cognition are necessary to move forward
    • Recognizing emotions, naming them, and using that understanding are all necessary for compassion to take root. “All evolution of consciousness as we understand it always involves moving what was subject to an object,” Kegan says. “When you’re subject to something, you can’t see it. When you can see it, you can finally begin to care for and feel responsibility for it. That [accompanying] shift of mind and heart leads to new kinds of recognitions and enables a bigger capacity to care.”
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