Historical and fantasied stories of pirates have always fascinated me. Given that I grew up in the Caribbean, these stories had me wondering if there was a hidden treasure in my backyard.
The constant theme in these stories were the maps and puzzles that lead the pirates back to their bounty. In these treasure maps, X would mark the spot where the treasure was hidden. It was taught that if someone found a pirate’s bounty, their entire life would change for the better.
As coaches and educators, our client and students possess within them a treasure map that you have the privilege to help unearth and identify the X where their treasure is hidden. X will be different for everyone yet the outcome is pretty consistent – a more creative, purposeful, empathetic, embodied, and self-aware person.
David Clifford, founder of the Design School X (DSX) worked with the d.school at Stanford University to iterate on its popular Design Thinking methodology to create the Liberatory Design. In a recent TEDx Talk, he describes an ideal X person and how the Liberatory Design can help facilitate the development of these individuals.
Side Note…Many of the attributes shared in David’s TEDx Talk are cornerstones to the Plaskett Institutes mission so you might say we geeked out when we came across this video.
What is an “I” and “T”?
Before we can go into what is an X person and how to facilitate their development we have to understand what comes before X.
There are 3 types of descriptors that illustrate the type of learner or type of skills a person possesses. The first is a dash ( – ). This is a person who is, “a jack of all trades but a master of none”. They are the generalist that are helpful for surface level situations but deep work is not a skill they possess.
The second is an “I” person – opposite of the dash. An I person has deep knowledge and skills in a particular area but is unable to utilize those skills and knowledge more broadly. An “I” person is often blind to other ways of thinking because of the significant focus in a particular way of doing and being.
Lastly, there is a “T” person which combines the positive notes of the dash and the I. This is a person with a broad range of transferable skills gained through deep expertise. Yet, even in “T” there is still room for growth.
A “T” shaped person has the ability to integrate knowledge and methods from different disciplines and synthesizes an approach forward. The next growth from this discipline is transdisciplinary where the focus is not just the transfer of methods and practices from one discipline to another but going beyond the constraints of the disciplines by focusing on the whole or unity of knowledge.
Solving for X
As coaches and educators, we have the critical task to facilitate the growth of the whole being of our clients and students so they can face their future. This means that we cannot look to offer coaching or educational programs that do not take into consideration the whole.
We must look at going beyond the hard-skills to a higher order of skills, called meta-skills as described by Marty Neumeier in his book, Meta-skills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age. These talents are Feeling, Seeing, Dreaming, Making, and Learning.
To develop an X person, Clifford offers that we all possess 4 elements that we can leverage.
1️⃣ Story – We all hold a story shaped by our experiences, self-identification, and cultural and social backdrop. These stories shape who we are and who we hope to be.
2️⃣ Strengths – Where most environments focus on weaknesses, we all have strengths that we can leverage to produce the desired outcome. What’s more, the strengths we do not possess can be found when we collaborate with others.
3️⃣ Skills – We all have current skills and we have the capacity to learn and develop new ones.
4️⃣ Stance – This is the position we take based on our evolving story, developing skills, enduring strengths, supportive values and beliefs, and your authentic nature.
At the center of this X person is a skilled called Equity Pause. This is when we take a moment to stop in order to notice how our habits of mind are influencing our approach to our work and life.
These habits which are born out of race, class, gender, ability, belief, and religion influence everything that we do and left unchecked, we make decisions that do not create an equity-driven output.
All of this puts the emphasis on the whole of humanity vs a focus on the self. As such, we see a person who is creative, purposeful, empathetic, embodied, and self-aware.
As coaches and educators, we have the obligation to facilitate an environment that fosters the development of such individuals.
Here at the Plaskett Institute, our goal is to support change agents, like yourself, with praxis-based frameworks that can be leveraged to consistently design the optimal conditions to elicit personally transformative experiences as part of a successful developmental learning strategy.
If we can all hold true to this then we can do our part in support of a more just and equitable world.