Andres Fossas – The Challenges of Finding Your Authentic-Self, and the Benefits of Leading as You

Andres begins with the idea of finding one’s calling. He explained that this is a deeper process than one would realize. In his words “it is deeply emotional, and profoundly psychological.”

In his explanation, Andres describes the process of finding one’s calling in the words of Constructive Developmental Theory (CDT), a shift from the third order to the fourth order of mind. CDT was developed by Harvard Professor, Robert Kegan, and describes the psychological process of adult development.

3rd Order – Socialized Mind: One is incapable of distinguishing between their internal or authentic voice and that of an external voice (parent, cultural norms, religion, etc). The heart of the challenge of someone in the 3rd Order is to make one’s own decisions separate from the influences of external voices. If you look at your own past decisions and investigate what motivated you to make those decisions, you may realize how others might have influenced your direction.

Gender: How most people experience gender in society is a wonderful example. Many people are brought up encouraged to engage in the stereotypical behaviors of their biological gender. Boys play with trucks, build legos, and even grow-up to be doctors. Girls like pink, they play with dolls, and grow up to be caring mothers, nurses, etc. The impact of being brought up with these norms are felt by many later in life: Man – I should be more masculine; Women – I do not belong in a work environment.

4th Order – Self-Authoring: The state of psychological development where a person has been able to pull apart introjected beliefs from outside sources and have been able to self-author their own values and beliefs. The idea that one has moved to a place where they are no longer limited by the psychological hold of the pressure to please, or anxiety of how others will perceive them. While pressures and anxiety will of course still exist; they exist from a new perspective. One where they can hold and examine the pressure and anxiety without being beholden to them. The same can be said for being able to identify one’s own calling.

Applications to Leadership: Having a leader who can think outside the context of the internal pressures one puts on themselves. To be able to ascend to a level where the impact of internal pressures are degraded and eventually impact the decisions of the leader less and less.

3rd Order Continued:

Exploring Oneself Deeply: Andres explains that so much of one’s life through college and early adulthood that “your own thoughts, your own experienced learnings, up to that point your life is prescribed, by society, your peers, school etc.” We identify uniquely with this prescription. You grow up and are told who you are. You are shaped by your environment, to find yourself believing certain things about your world and yourself. In the third order, these beliefs hold you. You are unable to step away from them to explore and understand them. They have a hold on you. “It is to gain an intuition that there is something, an engine, to generate perspective, to generate opinions, to generate your own values.”

People take for granted that there are limited perspectives one can take, you are in this camp or that camp. “Constructing this unique perspective on anything that is a process, it’s not just handed to us, it’s not going to fall from the sky, it is hard earned.”

Andres took a solo trip to South East Asia that forced him out of his third ordered position. He experienced what he called complete freedom. Andres began his lifelong experience with mindfulness during this trip. In his words, he found himself at a silent retreat in Thailand. At the beginning of his three day retreat he was provided a timer and five minutes instruction on how to meditate. In his words, “it was terrible”. He didn’t know what he was there for, what it meant to “see things how they really are.” Andres described a major realization he had during his second day, and he described that experience having happened hundreds of times in later meditation. He was able to finally make meaning of his experience, with that came so many deep emotions.

Subject: Something that holds you, that you are unable to see.

Object: Being able to consciously hold and examine the value, idea, or wholeness.

Vipassana Meditation – means to see things as they really are, it is one of India’s most ancient techniques. John Kabot-Zinn, discovered for himself this meditation technique in the 1970s and from it developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

How did your perspective change as a result of the meditation? Andres completed the basic 21 day course at his monastery. He described his intentions, how he spoke, changed. This was something his family identified as a major change in himself. His family explained that he brought so much peace. After returning home, his brother began arguing with him and instead of “throwing daggers back” he enveloped him in love. Most of all a tremendous amount of clarity, when things are clear there is no question, no doubt, it’s just clear, whatever is inside whatever force or calling is inside its like you part the bushes you part the path so it can go.

How does mindfulness relate to psychological development? Andres explained that he didn’t have a language to explain what he went through during his meditation experience. Sitting in Dr. Robert Kegan’s class, founder of Constructive Developmental Theory, at Harvard, Andres realized that there must be other ways to reach this level of insight.

Through meditation we get an understanding of what we are and what we are not. Andres explains that the idea of mindfulness and meditation and psychological development are very similar and that they are two ways of viewing very similar processes of awareness.

Bhante Bodhidhamma –

Daniel Gilbert –

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