(c) 2010 Ardfern (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The High Mode Problems of Hidden High Potentials

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Theory 2 Comments

Let’s meander for awhile, talking about what the experience of being a hidden high potential, what Elliott Jaques called “high mode individuals”.

“High mode” means someone who will be in Stratum 6 or higher at 65-70 yrs, and Higher Mode means Stratum 9 or higher, and Really-High Mode is someone at Str 11 or more. God help anyone who is at Str 15. All this got sparked from the conversation I had with Glenn, Michelle (both of PeopleFit) and the other students at the CIP sessions last week.

What strikes me is that these higher mode folks cause the rest of the world an endless amount of problems. No wonder everyone hates them.

Sure, having a high capability leader (“high stratum” in Elliott Jaques’s Requisite Organization speak) is good for very large businesses. A very high stratum leader can even reorganize or rethink a very large organization. But think about how many openings there are for someone of that size. I mean, there aren’t that many Str 8 organizations worldwide. If there are three per million in the 21-70 population, that still leaves a few hundred in the United States alone. So obviously, these folks don’t have full employment, if Jaques’s estimates are anywhere near correct. (I have no idea if they are: they’re from The Life and Behavior of Living Organisms: A General Theory, which I peeked at last week.)

If you are hidden high potential (“high mode” in Elliott Jaques’s Requisite Organization speak) and not from a high mode family (or a family with a lot of money) it’s unlikely that you will ever work for someone who is one stratum above you. Ever. You will start off at Str 4 when you get out of college at 22. That’s the ability to run a GM division. Imagine being able to get a job like that. And since you have spent your learning career without seeing any people who are in your mode, you never get that delicious experience of Recognition that occurs between you and someone in your mode. I recall having Mode 1 and Mode 2 teachers. Ugh. And I’m anything all hat special. There are loads of people as big as me in my region. Just not running the Cubs.

I’m convinced that Recognition is one of the most powerful experiences in life. There is something about Mode, the particular band of the trajectory of our growth in cognitive capacity, that is different from recognitions that can occur between any two people. Maybe you simply have to have someone who is higher Mode than you recognize you. Certainly the manager or teacher cannot recognize you if he or she is not higher stratum than you are. One of the students in the CIP class and I were talking about his high-mode 13-year-old. Can you imagine being 13 and being in the same stratum as your teachers? What a terrible event!

One of the things that my father pointed out in October Sky (Special Edition) (from the novel Rocket Boys (The Coalwood Series #1)) was that the boys probably would have ended up dying in the mines if it weren’t for their teacher encouraging them. My dad would probably know: he grew up in a coal camp not too far from where they did and even taught one of them as a GA at Marshall. In fact, if you want a good example of what the experience of being high-mode is like for most people,October Sky works pretty well. Even if, as my dad somewhat jealously pointed out, the lead character’s father was a foreman and they even had a telephone.

Literature, of course, is littered with the stories of high potential (“high mode”) students being crushed by the small-mindedness of lower potential (“lower mode”) teachers and parents.

Heck, it even makes it as a standard teen flick plot.

(Anyone care to list a few for yucks? I can go back to the 1930s without much problem. Silents, anyone?)

The story wouldn’t work if it didn’t ring true. Everyone has that experience of not being understood, and of not being understood because the person in authority over you is not one stratum above you. Now imagine a Mode 9 kid (who is what, Stratum 3 in high school?) trying to live in the West Virginia coal camps. Your teachers, who are Mode 1 or 2, are not just at your level but beneath your stratum. They have no idea what you are saying. You are just causing trouble.

Now go through the rest of your life that way. Your first job, when you are Stratum 4 (if you go to college), will be working for someone who is most likely Stratum 2. Maybe Str3 if you luck out. How can you succeed at that?

And even though you have the capability to be that person’s boss, you don’t have the knowledge and skills to do it. Not only that, you are growing so fast that you will outgrow the job within five or six years. Not good for continuity of the firm.

Now continue that through the rest of life. By the time my Mode 9 example hits 40, he is Stratum 6 and basically unemployable. I don’t care what everyone tells me: you don’t hire a 40 year-old with no experience in managing your company to join your executive staff. He’s screwed. And angry. If he hasn’t been destroyed by the anaclitic depression of his entire life, he can turn his hatred, anger and bitterness outward against the world and do things that the rest of us “just don’t understand”. He was always such a nice boy….

As populations in the third world grow, this problem is going to be disastrous. There will be more high mode kids (strict numbers) because the total kids population is exploding. However, the number of high-mode adults out there won’t increase. It’ll probably decrease because of AIDS killing off so many in so many places. That leaves us with high-mode kids, who are never understood by their elders, who know that they can do a better job than these fools do, young, aggressive, angry and surrounded by easy access to guns and bombs. Say hello to the new world order, y’all.

Do you see how this problem becomes exponentially worse in exploding populations? Without any high-mode individuals Recognizing them, and with social structures (such as older, proven norms and mores) being destroyed by migration, disease and technology, these high-mode kids are more dangerous than any suicide bomber because they can out think us.

So what can we do? Nothing? Nothing but wait for them to come over and destroy us?

Nah. Let’s be a bit more creative.

If the power of Modal Recognition is as great as I think it is, then our course should be self-evident. We need to get our high-mode individuals in front of these high-mode kids. I bet that even language would not get in the way of the Modal communication: they’ll find a way around it. It’s dangerous, of course: you might go out there and not recognize them, or blow them off which sets them off into a rampage. That seems to be even worse because they will find an anger inside that outdoes their previous anger.

I’m willing to risk it.

I’m pretty sure that we can do this. It’s not hard. It’s not even that expensive. Sure, a big bunch of us will die. But most of us are minimally employed right now anyway. At least most of my readers are, and most of you are amazingly high mode. So what’s wrong with dying early to change the world? You’ll get to avoid all that irritating agony of having people give you the blank stare when you talk about something important. (Like you don’t remember “No! It’s not that simple!”) So we’ll die. We’ll die sometime anyway. Let’s die for something positive.

We can get a lot of benefits out of this for the world if we can get these unrecognized high-mode kids into positions that fit them, both Stratum and personality. I don’t care what they do. They can raise an army, attack America and the US will have to kill them. In the balance, the majority will tackle problems that we think are impossible to solve right now. Global warming? No problem for that Mode 14 kid from Sri Lanka. Over-population? Who care when you’re getting all these high-mode problem solvers out of it who can go at the issues. Distribution issues? Yep, let them tackle that, too.

I don’t begin to believe that they will lead us all to a New World Order where men everywhere realize that they were wrong and I was right and everyone believes exactly what I do. Heck, even I don’t believe like I do. No, you’re not going to see any big love fest. You’re probably going to see some wicked, terrible wars. But you’re going to see solutions, too, and the wars will be less destructive than the terrorism that these hidden high potentials can be capable of un-channelled.

A mind may be a terrible thing, but letting it go to waste really is a crying shame.

[end of rant]

Image credit: DANGER sign in Talbot Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland. © 2010 Ardfern (CC BY-SA 3.0). Via Wikimedia Commons.

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps managers and experts find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants. Forrest lives and works plain view of North Carolina's Mount Baker.  [contact]

Comments 2

  1. Perhaps there is hope for you yet. Glad to see more realism in your posts as opposed the intellectual horsehocky.

    “High mode means someone who will be in Stratum 6 or higher at 65-70 yrs”

    Remember, this stuff is just a complex model to explain real world truth. The reality is that many of this High Modes step off the corporate ladder for personal reasons and really have no desire to go to the top of their ability at work. Of course they have to compensate by doing other things to keep their minds active. . . . like participating in intellectual gymnastics on Blogs. . ..

    “What strikes me is that these higher mode folks cause the rest of the world an endless amount of problems. No wonder everyone hates them.”

    Not so. What about that older gentlemen or gentlewoman at church or on the subway or in the Subway that you talk to that is so much more than you thought? Frustrated ability isn’t the fast track to the dark side – the dark side is still a choice.

    “Can you imagine being 13 and being in the same stratum as your teachers? What a terrible event!”

    What a short memory you have. Don’t you remember Mr. N. and 7th grade math?

    “Now go through the rest of your life that way. Your first job, when you are Stratum 4 (if you go to college), will be working for someone who is most likely Stratum 2. . . . And even though you have the capability to be that person’s boss, you don’t have the knowledge and skills to do it.”

    So you learn patience. You learn how to talk to people who really can’t relate to you. You learn to be open and communicative with everyone in your sphere. These are all skills you will need to ascend to the “high places” should you decide that’s what you want to accomplish. You’re focus on work only is far too “male” for an intellectual such as yourself. Open your mind and know that work is not the only place you can reach your potential. Work can just pay the bills while you do your achieving elsewhere.

    “Now continue that through the rest of life. By the time my Mode 9 example hits 40, he is Stratum 6 and basically unemployable. . . . He’s screwed. And angry.”

    Only if he/she chooses to be. You overlook the obvious. . . . THERE ARE OTHER OUTLETS.

    “It’ll probably decrease because of AIDS killing off so many in so many places. That leaves us with high-mode kids, who are never understood by their elders, who know that they can do a better job than these fools do, young, aggressive, angry and surrounded by easy access to guns and bombs. Say hello to the new world order, y’all.”

    And now you finally see the future of Africa. Except for one thing. There will be a leader who understands and can shape and build these high mode kids with no rudder. Just like Hitler did in post WWI Germany. And you’re also correct, the new world order is not new nor better. It is a repeat of things past and portender of things to come.

    “Do you see how this problem becomes exponentially worse in exploding populations?”

    I find this sentence frustrating. You’re so lucid then fall back into intellegentsian babble. The chaos of the new world order coupled with the exploding populations in Asia and the Indian subcontinent will create wars and the population will take care of itself. Throw into the mix the EU’s growing hubris and Russian tendency to overcompensate for their inherent inferiority complex and there’s absolutely no way WWIII isn’t going to happen in the next 20 – 30 years.

    “Without any high-mode individuals Recognizing them, and with social structures (such as older, proven norms and mores) being destroyed by migration, disease and technology, these high-mode kids are more dangerous than any suicide bomber because they can out think us.”

    Again, you understand the basis for the coming geo-political shift of the African continent. Perhaps you didn’t see it that way, but you still have a basic understanding.

    “So what can we do? Nothing? Nothing but wait for them to come over and destroy us?
    Naw. Let’s be a bit more creative.”

    What follows is interesting but, I believe, fairly irrelevant because it’s wishful thinking. It goes back to your basic concept of having a billion dollars and 50 years and you can change the world. I think that’s farsical. World events are bigger than one person and the economy of most U.S. states are bigger than $1BB. See the future and prepare yourself, your family, and your organization for it. That’s about all we can do. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to avoid WWIII, I’m just saying I don’t think we’ll be successful.

    Again, I had been losing faith in your ability to rationally analyze reality because of your long sojourn among the intellectual elite. They (the intellectual elite) make interesting party talk, but lack grounding in reality. Hope to see more cogent rants like this one!

    “And if the Red Sox can win a pennant, anything’s possible.”

    They are a team of Destiny. For your homework, how does that apply to our interaction under this heading . . . . . .

  2. Pingback: Power of Mediocrity: Being Great Takes Risk - The Manasclerk Company

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