The art of transformation
Experts believe that we are constantly moving from one life stage to the other at any given time. How we transition depends on how hard or easy it feels. Thomas Armstrong, the author of The Human Odyssey, says: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life argues that each stage of life from birth to childhood to adulthood and even dying and death has its own unique “gift” to contribute to the world.
But these stages don’t initially feel like gifts – they often feel more like discomfort, anxiety and resistance. Extracted from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life.
The twelve stages of our lives
- Pre-birth: Potential – The child who has not yet been born could become anything – a Michelangelo, a Shakespeare, a Martin Luther King – and thus holds for all of humanity the principle of what we all may yet become in our lives.
- Infancy (Ages 0-3): Vitality – The infant is a rich and seemingly unlimited energy source. Babies thus represent the inner dynamo of humanity, ever fuelling the fires of the human life cycle with new channels of psychic power.
- Early Childhood (Ages 3-6): Playfulness – When young children play, they recreate the world anew. They take what is and combine it with what is possible to fashion events that have never been seen before in the history of the world. As such, they embody the principle of innovation and transformation that underlies every single creative act that has occurred in the course of civilization.
- Middle Childhood (Ages 6-8): Imagination – In middle childhood, the sense of an inner subjective self develops for the first time, and this self is alive with images taken in from the outer world and brought up from the depths of the unconscious. The imagination serves as a source of creative inspiration in later life for artists, writers, scientists, and anyone else who finds their days and nights enriched for having nurtured their deep inner life.
- Late Childhood (Ages 9-11): Ingenuity – Older children have acquired a wide range of social and technical skills that enable them to develop marvellous strategies and inventive solutions for dealing with the increasing pressures that society places on them. This principle of ingenuity lives on in that part of ourselves that ever seeks new ways to solve practical problems and cope with everyday responsibilities.
- Adolescence (Ages 12-20): Passion – The biological event of puberty unleashes a robust set of changes in the adolescent body that reflect themselves in a teenager’s sexual, emotional, cultural, and/or spiritual passion. Thus, adolescent passion represents a significant touchstone for anyone seeking to reconnect with their most profound inner zeal for life.
- Early Adulthood (Ages 20-35): Enterprise – It takes enterprise for young adults to accomplish their many responsibilities, including finding a home and mate, establishing a family or circle of friends, and or getting a good job. This principle of enterprise thus serves us at any stage of life when we need to go out into the world and make our mark.
- Midlife (Ages 35-50): Contemplation – After many years in young adulthood of following society’s scripts for creating a life, people in midlife often take a break from worldly responsibilities to reflect upon the deeper meaning of their lives, the better to forge ahead with new understanding. This element of contemplation represents a vital resource that we can all draw upon to deepen and enrich our lives at any age.
- Mature Adulthood (Ages 50-80): Benevolence – Those in mature adulthood have raised families, established themselves in their work-life, and become contributors to the betterment of society through volunteerism, mentorships, and other forms of philanthropy. All of the humanity benefits from their benevolence. Moreover, we all can learn from their example to give more of ourselves to others.
- Late Adulthood (Age 80+): Wisdom – Those with long lives have acquired a rich repository of experiences that they can use to help guide others. Elders thus represent the source of wisdom that exists in each of us, helping us avoid the past mistakes while reaping the benefits of life’s lessons.
- Death & Dying: Life – Those in our lives who are dying, or who have died, teach us about the value of living. They remind us not to take our lives for granted but to live each moment of life to its fullest and to remember that our own small lives form a part of a greater whole.
- Birth: Hope – When a child is born, it instils in its parents and other caregivers a sense of optimism, a sense that this new life may bring something new and unique into the world. Hence, the newborn represents the sense of hope that we all nourish inside of ourselves to make the world a better place.
Thomas believes we need to do whatever we can to support each stage and protect each stage from attempts to suppress its contribution to the human life cycle. He thinks we need to value each of these gifts if we truly support the deepest needs of human life.
What’s often required to transition is a shift in perspective to change from thinking “I can’t” to “I can”!
What do you truly desire?
As humans, we easily get caught up or hung up in our own thinking. As business coaches, we believe one of our primary roles is to assist clients in cutting to the chase. We use deep direct questions as a tool that empowers mental clarity.
We often ask clients what they truly want? Or in other words, what’s the most important thing for them moving forward?
Almost always, the answers we are given are focused on changes wanted by the person.
People normally talk about things they want to change in their lives or businesses, things that will make them feel better, be better, have a better life.
But with the desire for change comes the individual’s requirement to take action to change things. The actions required for change is where resistance usually arises. Client’s can tell us what they want, and it’s evident that they genuinely do want the things they say, but the probability of them resisting the process of achieving it is exceptionally high.
Although we want changed outcomes, we don’t often want to experience the journey of the change that is required to achieve what we want.
As a result, change itself can become a significant roadblock and sometimes it is crippling, both emotionally and physically.
Why? Because our brains are wired to keep us safe, protected and ultimately, the best way to keep us safe is to be stagnant. Stagnation means our life remains on repeat, not changing and not evolving.
Change can be ‘small’ day-to-day, but over time, it has a huge impact on us. When we then look back in time, we can testify to the metamorphosis of life. Our mission session suggested small weekly or daily steps that will help build momentum towards actualising your visions and mission dreams.
But steps are just one thing; sometimes, the roadblocks are experienced when we would like to take the steps. To ensure you take the steps and complete the actions you set out to achieve, you need to actively work at a change management process that aligns with your preferred ways of thinking, working and leading. By learning to embrace change, we set ourselves up to action the things that will open us up to the things we want in our lives.
So this is where we get you to think more deeply, reflect and review and renew your understanding of how you think, work and lead your life and develop new ways of living your daily life.
Within this section of the module, we will explore the other two human optimisers to help facilitate your change; Gratitude and Release.
Click on to explore these.