Have you ever thought about the difference between developmental growth and transformation? Or, have or do you consider them the same? Hm.
There is an important distinction between developmental growth and transformation, which is important to both personal and professional development. Let’s take a look.
First, let’s define the terms.
Translate development into Spanish
- The process of developing or being developed.‘she traces the development of the novel’
- A specified state of growth or advancement.‘the wings attain their full development several hours after birth
Translate transformation into Spanish
- Thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.‘its landscape has undergone a radical transformation’
- A metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.‘Both the molting process and the metamorphic transformation from larva to pupa are coordinated and regulated by hormones.’
Ah, do you see the dinsticiton? Either way, let’s work it through.
When you are interested in development, meaning available to it, you occupy a space that welcome’s learning. You stand outside of what you believe to be true about the world, and how you occupy it, and welcome new knowledge, new types of understanding, and new ways of being. Simple. Or is it?
Well, because we have an ego, or, wait, do we? Well, for the purposes of this post, let’s assume we do. Because we have an ego, we don’t like being wrong.
We are constantly seeking validation of what we know. Why?
Because it fits into our worldview. It is what we know. When information comes in, we assemble it into the the narrative of our worldview and who we believe we are. We confirm our ego.
If the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, we really only have two choices.
Deny the existence of this new information, or become open to it.
Denying this new information is called denial. We are actively denying that another way to look at a situation or event is possible. Egocentric.
However, when we are open to the possibility that there are other ways to think about a situation or event, we have now entered into the developmental arena.
Meaning, that we can now take this new information in, make sense of it, and do something with it.
Even if the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, if we are open, we can incorporate it into our worldview rather easily. It is all about being open to new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.
The simplest example is to consider development at school and work. When we are confronted with new information, we have a choice. Assimilate and incorporate that new information into our existing worldview, creating new knowledge, or reject it.
I am always in conversation with the team about our goals, objectives, and priorities. Recently, I was asked about hiring someone to run Zoom technology for the upcoming professional development trainings.
I, however, was unsure about the need. Didn’t know. I needed to think about it.
Well, the next week, I ran a Zoom meeting with the team. The meeting was 90-minutes and was about creating our next 30-day priorities. Part of the meeting was creating breakout rooms, which you can do in Zoom. The meeting was a complete disaster. Really, it was. What did I learn?
That you absolutely need someone to run technology while the person running the meeting does just that, runs the meeting. I learned through doing the meeting that hiring someone for a Zoom tech position was absolutely necessary. We are hiring someone right now.
I moved from questioning the need, reflecting upon it, to learning that we definitely needed the new position. I developed.
Alright, that’s development. Opportunities for development are available every day. If you don’t see them, it might be that you are avoiding them or in denial about them. It’s not a demerit. I didn’t develop for a long time. Really. I wasn’t interested. Not a judgement. Just a fact. Let’s now look at transformation.
Now, transformation implies a complete change to the object, thing, or person. Yep, that’s right. How then does transformation differ from development?
While development requires an active openness, as we’ve discussed, transformation requires openness and a complete and total letting go of what was, in favor of what will be. It requires a shift from a focus on the external to the internal.
Transformation is about questioning all you know. Every ounce of what you know, or beleive you know, must be questioned.
Further, you must be willing to let go of how you previously viewed the world. Open to a continual process of creating new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.
The distinction is that with transformation you actively seek out opportunities to question the ways you think, act, and occur. Internally focused.
You are continuously interested in disrupting your old habits and ways of thinking while creating new habits and ways of thinking.
Let me give you an example to help with the distinction.
Let us say you want to develop leadership skills. You can develop leadership skills in lots of ways. You can take classes, read books, even put leadership principles into practice in your life. That is development.
You incorporate new information into the preexisting way you already think about leadership. Simple. How then to create transformation? Mm. Different.
You must be willing to let go of all of your preconceived ideas about what leaders are supposed to do, how they are supposed to act, and how they are supposed to be. All of them. Then what?
You leave your ego at the door.
And, everything you think you know about leadership. Start over. Really. Let it all go. And, create from there.
Transformation can only occur when we let go. Know also that the letting go will need to happen again, and again, and again. Over and over. Why? Because you are disrupting what you held to be true, and creating something new. Key. You are not adding, you are creating.
Let’s see. Okay. Here we go.
When the pandemic began here locally, we were approaching the last week of the term at the community college where I work. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I work in community and continuing education. It is all experiential. All of it. Which means that it is in-person. All of it is, or was.
Within one month of the pandemic beginning here, we let go of all the concepts we held to be true about our business model. All of them. What happened?
We created an entirely new business model. A model that is transformational, as all aspects of it are completely different than the previous model. All of them.
We created all new processes and systems for how we do business. New ways we market and engage with the local community, new ways that instructors teach their classes, even the content that is delivered, while similar, is still completely new. Why?
Because a completely new context has been created. And it was created intentionally by believing something else was possible. Which then replaced our current belief system of how we all viewed our work.
All of us. now our actions follow that new belief system. That is transformation.
When you intentionally create new ways to be, new ways to think, new ways to believe, new ways to be a human, you are creating contexts that are transformational. Never seen or experienced before. Transformation.
How are development and transformation similar?
One key way. When you develop, whether you want to or not, you give out your development to others. If those around you are open, they will learn from you and also develop. And, it is the exact same for you. If those around you are developing, and you are open you will also develop.
It is the same with transformation. If you are creating transformational contexts that change the nature of what’s possible, those around you, if they are open, will also transform. If they are open. If not, then they won’t. Same for development.
Can development lead to transformation?
Oh, yes, absolutely. In some ways, they sort of go together, which is why I wanted to write about the distinction. Whereas they are different, they both are about being open to and participating in creating change.
Here is a distinction on the difference between change and transformation.
“Change is about using external influences to modify actions to achieve desired results. Transformation is about modifying beliefs so that natural actions achieve the desired results.”cioinsight.com
See the difference? One is externally driven, and one is internally driven. Very similar to the distinction between development and transformation. Important.
How do you begin to develop or transform?
Really it’s pretty simple, yet not easy. A paradox, yep. My suggestion?
- Be open to everything around you. Being open is probably the key to both development and transformation. Both become possible when we are open to new information and new experiences.
When we are open, the world opens up. It really does. There is so much to learn and to experience. Being open creates an immediate possibility. The possibility that you will learn to be more. More of either how you already occur, or more by occurring in a completely new way in a completely new context.