The Minion Revolt: Finding my Growth Edge

Despicable Me 3 / Illumination Entertainment / 2017

Ever since reading David Whyte’s book, “Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity,” I’ve had this unshakable belief that organizations have the ability, and frankly the responsibility, to show up in this world not solely to maximize shareholder value (bleck), but to unleash the unending potential that resides within each of us individually and collectively.

“Work is not a static endpoint or a mere exercise in providing, but a journey and a pilgrimage in which core elements of our being are tested in the world.” ~David Whyte

This conversation is inspiring to think and talk about, yet fraught with the obvious and annoying “how” question. How can we create organizations that support the pilgrimage of our identity as well a strong business pursing profitability? Well, you can imagine my excitement after being introduced to Decurion and their Chief Purpose Officer, Bryan Ungard. Long story short, through an incredible 10+ year transformation focusing on self-management and efforts to be a deliberately developmental organization, they might have just moved us closer to answering this heavy “how” question.

Christopher Forman, CEO of Decurion states,

“For us, pursuing profitability and human development emerges as one thing. We do not see it as a trade-off, and the moment we consider sacrificing one for the other, we recognize that we have lost both.”

Decurion, as well as several other organizations, are paving the way to what I believe to be a monumental shift in consciousness/awareness about the nature, operations, and potential of organizations in the world today. For more on deliberately developmental organizations (DDO’s) check out Kegan and Lahey’s book, “An Everyone Culture”.

Wait, there’s a catch. I now realize a big part of me was looking to the organization, something outside of me, to create this amazing space. This workplace where I could come alive every day and feel all the joy and dormant potential flow out of me like a peaceful river. Again, no Heather, that is not how it works…

These deliberately developmental organizations are full of deliberately developmental … people. As our assignment this week states, “when we are self-managing, we have the autonomy to choose our development path.” I’d take that one step further and say when we are self-managing we have the responsibility to create our development path.

The Minion Revolt

This is when it gets good! I’ve been on a path of deepening self-awareness for many years now and understand the idea that within each of us are many different identities, archetypes, or characters in our personal life’s movie. Mine are minions! I have all sorts of them. The victim minion, the saboteur minion, the pioneer, the sage, the athlete, etc. These are all well rooted parts of myself that have grown with me since I was a child.

The activity we completed this week in the Practical Self-Management Intensive program, which is core work to self-management and DDOs, is the “Immunity to Change Map” (see a version of the activity here). The activity requires that you uncover your one big thing, the biggest obstacles in your path to improve or achieve your goal. We’re not talking surface behaviors, but deep seated mind-sets.

My experience of this exercise was both enlightening and alarming. You can see my full map here, but it doesn’t exactly capture the messy part. What I experienced is a full-on revolt of my many minions. All of the sudden, I started to pick on one, one that has helped me be quite successful to this point in my life. The rest of the crew heightened their own defenses and I noticed that old feeling of body armor that shows up when you become a bit too vulnerable. Moving through the exercise, I would feel the behaviors that I was doing (or not doing), but had trouble writing them down. As I moved to the Hidden Assumptions section, that almost nauseous feeling reared its head as I contemplated whether I could put the feeling into words. As my partner, Sujei, shared — you can’t un-know these ah-ha’s and the act of writing it down cemented the deal for me. The minions did what they could to stop me (doing the dishes, packing, checking email, going for a run), but the truth gives me freedom.

To my Saboteur Minion (i.e. the identity behind my improvement goal in the Immunity to Change map), I’m tremendously grateful for your presence in my life and the protection you’ve granted me. Thank you for keeping me safe and helping me grow. A HUGE congratulations for all your hard work, and you now get to RETIRE!!! Not only that, you get to retire with a full pension in the dream location of your choice!!! One condition, be kind to the new energy (i.e. minion) that takes your place to help me grow and develop.

Much love, Heather