Work is a challenge for highly sensitive people. At least it has been under the capitalistic economic system. As the center of gravity in our society shifts from an individualistic to a communitarian approach to life and work, a new world of work is opening up for sensitive people. The Age of Accumulation is giving way to the Age of Sharing.
For sensitive people, it cannot come soon enough.
The Evolution View Of Work
For centuries, we humans have created different societal structural models to support each step of our development.
This process has been documented in the book, Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Chris Cowan, based on the research of Dr. Clare Graves into psychological identity.
Dr. Graves was a psychology professor at Utica College, who conducted numerous surveys into how people perceived themselves. He found that people tended to define themselves in similar ways and that these identities correlated to distinct ages of human development: The Tribal Age, the Age of Empires, The Age of Religious Dominance, The Capitalistic Age, etc.
One of Dr. Graves findings is that the psychological identities of each age were created to serve the societal model not the other way around. Dr. Graves also found that we have tended to alternate a communitarian age with an individualistic age.
Recently we have been living in an individualistic age. It has brought us indoor plumbing – nice – and lots of pollution – not so nice. It has enabled us to grow from a marginal species to a group of 7 billion. Natural resources used to be plentiful; now we are plentiful and the natural resources not so much. So now we have to go from an age of abundant resources to an age of abundant sharing.
What The New Age Means For HSP Work
How does this relate to work for sensitive people?
In 2008, Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer Wright published Tribal Leadership about different types of human work arrangements, what they are like, and how effective they are. The authors align the patterns they identified in their studies with those of Spiral Dynamics because they found similar patterns.
Tribal Leadership shows how the current individualistic system inevitably creates a depressed class of people to support the “stars” and shows the pitfalls inherent in that approach. The book illuminates how the new emerging communitarian model in which workgroup cohesion is based on values and mission is a more productive and effective way of working. This new model is high on trust and recognizes and harnesses the intelligence in all people. Tribal Leadership offers numerous real-life examples of the implementation of the new model.
The New Communitarian Age
We have benefited from the accumulated learning that has improved human life. It has become apparent, however, that individual knowledge and disciplines are not enough. Each discipline has to find its way into the common fabric of life to realize its value. Each discipline adds value and has limitations as well. They do not exist in isolation but are interdependent.
The new communitarian age will be an age where through the synthesis of human knowledge we identify the strengths and weaknesses of many disciplines so that we can find what really works and what does not. For sensitive people who invest in learning how to work effectively, synthesis is potentially our expertise and great gift. The new communitarian model may open many doors for us and make work a joy again. Personally I am looking forward to it.
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