The Becoming Principle

The first time you sat on a two-wheel bicycle with the training wheels off, you didn’t know how to ride it. You’d seen plenty of people riding bikes, and you probably had someone there to help you, but to learn how to ride that bike, you had to pretend that you already knew. It was a performance of sorts; you performed as a cyclist before you were a cyclist. And by doing so, you became a bicycle rider.

For most of us, that first cycling performance happened in childhood, and indeed, a lot of childhood learning takes place the same way — through the pretending and performing that made up so much of our play as kids. And as adults — in the workplace and elsewhere — when we’re asked to do something we’ve never done before, when we need to grow beyond our current capabilities, we can tap into what we naturally did as children, and perform our way to who we’re becoming.

But many of us are afraid of performing. Or we feel that it’s not truthful. Or that we’ll mess up. So we don’t, and that’s a shame, resulting in a huge waste of human potential. People stop growing and developing precisely because they no longer take part in this kind of play and performance. In environments that expect adults to do only what they already know how to do, we are not likely to take risks to perform as other than who we think we are. Instead, we tend to repeat our well-learned patterns and predictably play out the roles we have already learned and are comfortable with.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The fact is, we can all grow and develop as adults. That is, we can reinitiate the kind of creative learning and development experiences and abilities we had as children — being who we are and who we’re becoming at the same time — and perform in new ways, do new things, and break out of the habitual scripts that hold us and our organizations back.

This is The Becoming Principle, and it consists in the following Five Fundamentals of Performance:

  1. Make the choice to grow.
  2. Build ensembles everywhere.
  3. Listen.
  4. Create with Crap!
  5. Improvise your life.

Summing-up: Fortunately, we can start growing again — by reintroducing play, pretending, performing and improvising into our work and lives. We’re not just limited to what we already know and who we already are. We can be who we are and who we’re not…yet. We can be who we’re becoming. This is called the Becoming Principle.

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