The Ecology of Personal Growth

The idea of ecology is that we are part of a constantly interconnected living system. As individuals, we evolve and transform together.

Yet we do commonly believe in our isolation, in lives uniquely separate from all others. We have our own thoughts and feelings, our own identities — or at least we think and feel and believe it is so. And this is especially so in the realm of “leading,” where the common definitions frequently imply something that comes out of a single person as an influencer of others. Perhaps, in truth, what we mean by leading is only a slight elevation of consciousness in a particular direction, a negotiation with a desirable future, a single bird’s heading that in some small way influences the larger flock. “Oh yeah,” we say. “Let’s go that way.”

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If an ecology of personal growth exists, it means:

1) we cannot disentangle our own evolution as individuals from one another or from the evolution of humanity itself;

2) we learn as flocks, as tribes and societies, not just as individuals; and not only as flocks, but as single flocks among many others in a deeply diverse world;

3) we learn with the support and also the press of others;

4) we become who we are in the context of some type of emergence, personal and group and environmental in nature.

What might you say that process of emergence is for you, knowing that it is already in you?

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Deep in this ecology of personal growth is the notion that we teach each other what we most need to learn personally; that we are looking for ways beyond own known edges; that we want, finally, to understand how we collude in the problems we say we want to solve and the shadows we create. Whether we say so or not, there is a spiritual side to all this, a soulful side to our learning. After all, time is running out. We have our mortality to consider.

Mortality and change and the cycles of happiness and pain we see within our lives — they, too, are all part of the ecology of growth. We stand between what we know and what we don’t, bringing back whatever messages we find from the deeps that are just beyond us.

One other piece, vital I think, among the many — is vision. In the primitive sense, seeing, discerning what we can be and what I can be and must be as a path of heart, a thread of being to follow.

And the last piece, an opportunity, the word from Latin, opportunus, from ob- “in the direction of” plus portus “harbor,” originally describing the wind driving toward the harbor, toward home.

We must feel that opportunity in our bones.

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