Saturday, February 1, 2014

Idle thoughts on personal development

I’ve been thinking a lot about what are the stages of development through which people move during their time on earth and what does it mean to develop as a person. Where are we going and what are we working towards? As I see it there are basically 7 stages through which a person can move during their life and the time spent in each stage has changed through history as the world itself has evolved. In my view the stages are as follows:
The Animal -> The Laborer -> The Engineer -> The Salesman -> The Leader -> The Philosopher -> The Transcended

0. The Animal - I call this stage zero, because by definition I see this as pre-human. This is basically a state in which the entity does not have any conscious understanding of the world in which it lives and instead acts based on unconscious instincts built up through the power of evolution and countless generations before who lived or died by their actions. As a result of these instinctual directives, the actions of an Animal are generally beneficial and through effort the Animal can prosper.

1. The Laborer - I view this as the first truly human stage and is defined by a conscious understanding of the world in which an entity lives. A Laborer is able to observe the world in which it resides and come to see the forces that are at work in the world. Through recognizing the power of these forces a Laborer can consciously align its efforts with these forces and use this leverage to improve it’s life.

2. The Engineer - This stage is the next step beyond just recognizing the world around one, but actually understanding why the world functions the way it does and what steps can be taken to change the world. Essentially this is the state of understanding where one is able to use their labors to change the world to make it a better place.

3. The Salesman - This is the stage where one uses the power of persuasion to align other individuals labors towards ones own goals to make the world a better place. This allows one to affect far greater change than can be accomplished individually and begin to gain benefits from the powers that come from cooperation such as specialization and trade and the sharing of knowledge.

4. The Leader - This is the stage where one builds an organization of individuals with a shared vision of what constitutes a better world and these individuals willing coordinate their efforts to help make this vision a reality.

5. The Philosopher - This is the stage where an individual redefines what constitutes a better world and helps others to see the value of this new vision.

6. The Transcended - This is the state where an individual transcends from the constraints of the world and one’s quality of life becomes independent from the world around it.

Interestingly I think you can also see a corollary of these stages a person travels through in their lifecycle with the Animal stage generally tying to pre-birth, the Laborer representing the stage of an infant who gradually learns how various actions result in various outcomes, the Engineer stage representing childhood and adolescence and increasingly sophisticated understanding of the world through education, the Salesman stage being that of a young adult starting a new career and seeking a spouse, the Leader stage coming in middle age as one moves into management and building a family, the Philosopher stage in retirement a time of thought and reflection and the dispensing of much advice, and finally transcension in death.

From an economic perspective, there also seems to be a pattern of increasing gains in both income and general quality of life through each progressive stage of development. And many people spend much of their life trying to move up the economic scale by basically shifting from one stage to the next through their career development.

What does it all mean though? I am not really sure. On one hand it seems to plot a route through life that makes sense and seems worthy of following, but on the other hand each step appears to be a milestone on the route to the eventual end which seems scary and perhaps worth putting off. I do though have many questions: Are some stages better than others? Is there a benefit from moving through some stages faster? Should one try to rush through the early stages and idle in the later ones, or vice versa? If each stage is indeed better than the ones before it and as a result a state of transcension is *best*, can one achieve a state of transcension through means other than death? All questions which I have no idea how to answer, but are interesting to consider.

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