High Mode and Learned Helplessness

Forrest ChristianCoaching Leave a Comment

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve been listening to Peter Block’s The Right Use of Power, an audio book (more a talk, really) that deals with issues from Stewardship and that are more fully developed in The Answer to How is Yes, which I’ve also been rereading. I’m interested in how his ideas intersect with Elliott Jaques’s theories of bureaucracy.

Block is concerned with our “culture of entitlement”, the idea that someone else is going to take care of us. He believes that we have turned our back on taking responsibility for our own lives, for own communities. We have turned away from the democratic ideals that our forefathers held for the mess of pottage from those who have told us that someone else will care for us. It may be simply generational effects, a baby-boomer issue instead of a long-term trend. But Seligman’s work on learned helplessness back on the 1960s and the recent work on depression (how it is so much more prevalent on people born later in the twentieth century than it was for people born in the first part) give a lot of support to the idea that we have become a people who teach our children that they are not responsible, that they cannot affect their worlds, that they cannot trust each other.

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