Now that I've been listening to people professionally for over a decade, a pattern seems to be emerging. I'm working on a model of human development that I call a progression of concerns. Like any model, it can never fully capture the essence of what it represents -- maps are not territories, and menus are not meals. But I'm amused by this at the moment, and having a good time listening for which question folks seem to be working on answering.
Am I safe?
Am I right?
Am I ahead?
Am I happy?
Am I kind?
Am I loving?
Am I at peace?
Am I authentic?
My theory for now is that we start at birth with the first question, and move through the progression at our own pace, rather than at certain ages. Not everyone goes all the way through -- many people will be content to remain at one of the levels for a lifetime.
Once each question is answered, the concept it represents seems to dissolve into the background, become irrelevant, or even disappear. For example, a person working on authenticity may or may not retain the desire to be kind or peaceful.
And I think perhaps at the level of I?, the concepts of happiness or kindness may cease to have any meaning. Everything just is.
Or maybe it's not a progression at all, but more like a merry-go-round, with seats available at any of the concerns at any time. Like I said, the model is a work in progress, and I'll probably add, subtract, and rearrange questions numerous times. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on it.