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Development: How to move from personal development to impersonal/universal development?

30 January 2019 | Thoughts

While we are convinced of the importance of fostering the development of each person at work, we can legitimately ask ourselves whether certain current Personal Development (PD) practices really contribute to this. Indeed, as the philosopher Mathias Roux explains in “The Dictatorship of the Ego“, the search for the “Deep Self” which is at the heart of many PD approaches, far from “freeing” us, can in some cases strengthen our dependencies, even create new ones. Why? Quite simply because this “Deep Self” does not exist: contrary to what some DP prophets would have us believe, we never quite coincide with the idea we have of ourselves or with what we aspire to become. As Montaigne so aptly expressed in his Essays, “man, in all and everywhere, is nothing but patching and variegated design.” The self is therefore not stationary; it is moving and constantly evolves with the course of our actions.

Roux, therefore, pleads in a provocative way for an “impersonal” development, whose goal would be less to find and love our deep and unique Self but rather to access, through a double asceticism, to what is most impersonal, that is to say universal, in us: knowledge, love, memory, the experience of beauty, virtue, etc. We would thus be more faithful to the spirit of Socrates’ “Know thyself”, which has nothing to do with the fundamentally narcissistic introspection advocated by some DP gurus.  According to Roux, Socrates meant rather: “Know your nature, know yourself not as yourself the only one, the singular, but as a human being; know your nature as a human being in order to rise to the height of your humanity.”  Since one of the essential conditions for the successful implementation of collaborative governance is a change in the posture of (top) managers, freeing themselves as much as possible from their ego as Isaac Getz explains in his new book, the clarification proposed by Roux of what the goals of the DP should be, seems to me beneficial.

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