Your duty: Help people around you grow!

I like simple models. I know that the complexity of human beings, of our economy, of our societal development can never be broken down into simplistic models. Simplistic models — however — are all that I can remember in my day-to-day life to really make practical use of them. Like Brian Fantana says in one of my favorite movies of all time, Anchorman: “60% of the time it works… every time.”

The model for me to assess whether I am able to actually help people around me grow is inspired mainly by Maslow and Spiral Dynamics.

I simply cluster current behavior that I observe into three categories:
 — Security-seeking
 — Ego-proving
 — Open for personal growth

You can actually sit down and think about the people around you and try to assess how much of their conscious life they are spending in any of these buckets. I would personally assess myself like this:

- Security seeking: 20%
 — Ego proving: 60%
 — Open for personal growth: 20%

I have done the exercise for almost all people around me and through it have realized how much time I have wasted in trying to help people grow while they were simply not in a state of mind in which growth is possible.

When a person is acting from the “security-seeking” perspective he is full of adrenaline. His focus is very limited. He is trying to survive, because he feels immediate danger around him. How this danger is triggered is highly subjective. It could be that the person simply doesn’t feel comfortable in the environment or that some past traumatic experience is triggering something in him. No matter what the reason is: You have to focus on making him feel comfortable and safe. Not showing understanding for his behavior makes things worse. Talking about visions and personal growth are completely out of place. Every word you say will be like a beeeeeeep in his ear.

When a person is acting from the “ego-proving” perspective he feels like he and his unique set of skills as a human being are not being acknowledged. If you do not manage to build a relationship with this person that is based on appreciation, then you will not be able to really grow together. If the other person does not have the feeling that you deeply appreciate him for who he is — everything that he will say will be with the objective to prove to me that he is great. The objective will not be to create something amazing together. What I find most useful in these situations is to explicitly talk about moments where the unique skill set of the other person has unfolded and how amazed I was by that. Appreciate the other person in order to make him be open for personal growth.

When a person is acting from the “open for personal growth” perspective, then you can really create value together. You can meaningfully change behavior, develop concepts that change your lives for the better, create company strategies, create life goals…

This 20% is the favorite part of my life. I aim to spend a lot more time there ;)