Block asks the question, “How are we going to be when we gather together?” This is a crucial question. My answer is that adults need to intentionally develop abilities for thinking interdependently. We must actively deploy these skills to effectively work, listen and think with each other. It is our shared responsibility to engage with one another with the goal of producing positive change for the future.
There are many hurdles for those engaged in intentionally improving as an interdependent thinker. It is a challenge for many adults to move from independent to more interdependent thinking. Adults intent on independence and faced with the fact that others think differently about a given problem often engage in aggressive or avoidance techniques, such as holding onto past thinking, refusing to interact with other thinkers, labeling other thinkers as the enemy, and jumping to conclusions. The stability of a person’s status quo thinking is often very attractive. It can be challenging to move into the instability and tentativeness of shared thinking. Patterson and others explain that unpleasant endeavors “require a motivation that can come only from within. People stimulate this internal motivation by investing themselves in an activity. That is, they make the activity an issue of personal significance. They set high standards of who they’ll be, high enough to create a worthy challenge, and then they work hard to become that very person”. Being internally motivated to grow and develop as a person who thinks well with others is a value for the person and for the common good.
As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging. San Francisco, California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008 page 10
Patterson, Kerry, Grenny, Joseph, Maxfield, David, McMillan, Ron and Switzler, Al. Influencer: The Power to Change Anything. New York, New York: McGraw Hill, 2008 page 93