Hello again and welcome to module 4 of LA 101. This module is called “Heron and Reason Add Color.” As I hinted at the last module, that this is the theory that really does bring the creative place into Leadership Arts Associates and is what justifies all the activities that we do. I am not over exaggerating when I say that this theory that I am about to share with you changed my life. Of the exact reason for that is because this is the theory that created Leadership Arts Associates. This is the theory that was the missing ingredient that made everything else make sense that told me that I would have to create an organization because I wasn’t going to find anything else out there that was like this, at least not locally.
I’m very excited to share it with you. This is a theory that is, it’s called the four ways of knowing. It’s called wider ways of knowing. It is definitely talking about different reflective cycles. What I’m going to share with you today is how it was taught to me. Then, I will tell you exactly why I came to believe in this theory because, well, there’s a story that goes with it so we’ll get into that.
Let’s get into this theory so you actually see what it is and then I’ll tell you how it came alive for me and how it made me a believer and morphed into Leadership Arts Associates today. Once again, we’re here with a triangle because all of the great theories have a great triangle, but there’s several ways how this is represented. This is the best way that I have seen it.
The way Heron and Reason, four ways of knowing, is that there’s four ways that you basically can process any sort of experience and get knowledge and lessons from it. At the very base is the experiential and experiential is the here and now, as it is actually happening, so what we’re absorbing. What are we feeling? What are we observing? All of that kind of stuff is at your experiential level. The next level is called presentational and I’m going to skip that for a second and come back. The third level is called propositional and propositional is usually your concepts or your descriptors, so if you talk about a situation. Then, the last one is practical, so the actual takeaways we have from an experience and how they manifest into ways that we modify our behavior possibly. Presentational, so going back to this second level, is when we choose to dive a little bit deeper on our experience to fully understand it. This typically happens through an expressive method. Most of the time, it is an artistic method os it could be painting or coloring. It can also be abstract discussion.
Let’s just do a really simplified example of this so you can see it come alive. Let’s just take a basic question like, “How are you feeling? Or how are you today? Or what is your day like today?” If I were to ask you that in the here and now, you would answer it, “Fine. Good. Great.” I could have you describe it a little bit. “Well, it’s been okay. I mean, nothing out of the ordinary has really happened today.” Maybe the practical application of knowing and answering that question would not really have an effect.
Now, let’s incorporate that presentational level and I asked you to describe how you are today or how an experience made you feel using a color. Now, this could be a plethora of different things. If I said, “Blue.” Or if I said, “Red.” Those are two very different emotions. Let’s say I go with blue. I ask, “Why are you blue today? Because you’re sad?” “No. Blue to me is very calming and that’s how I feel today. Today’s just been a really chill day. I got to go ride my bike this morning and blue skies, the breeze was gently blowing and I just felt at peace. It’s just been a really calm day.”
Practical application might be that I just got a little clearer about my stress management and what I need to do to balance myself out or really appreciate some of that down time that I had. Whereas, I could say, “Red.” Why? Well, because there’s just been so many awesome things happening today. I just feel like I’m on fire. I’m just plowing through my tasks. I’m being ultra productive. I just feel on it.”
The depth of the response and the question, still, how was your day? When I spin it with the abstract or the presentational knowing I get a little bit of a crystal clear picture. Maybe there are some practical applications that come out of that because you already heard through me answering, transitioning into the propositional where I’m talking about some high level concepts or descriptors. I’m probably, yes, more likely to have a practical application when I’m processing it that way. Whereas, how many experiences do we have that are the equivalent of the first question where I’m saying, “How was your day?” I don’t really get to process it in any other additional avenue. I don’t really take that experience as worthwhile of learning anything else from it.
This theory is basically what we use routinely at Leadership Arts Associates. We tweak it. We massage it. We pull it. We condense it. We modify it. We customize it for different scenarios, but we’re really looking, to number one, bring that presentational piece back. I think that as adults we have gotten to a point in our life where we believe that we’re so good that we don’t need to explore our experiences in any other method because we think that we can get everything we want out of it so clearly.
Yet, I just took a very simplistic question, which is basically processing your day, and how many of us brush it to the side. I mean, myself guilty. I’m recording this module. I’m going to go home. My husband’s going to ask how my day was and I’m going to be like, “It was fine.” That’s not processing my day at all. If he comes home and he says, “How was your day? If your day was a color, what would it be?” Completely different conversation. It sounds silly.
In fact, when this theory was first brought to my attention or taught to me, I thought it was silly. On top of the idea of working with adults I honestly told my professor who is now a mentor and a friend, “You have to be kidding me. You think that I can take this into the corporate world? You think I can take this into a professional environment and people are going to take me seriously? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
She encouraged me to push back. She said, “Go all in and if this doesn’t work then let’s talk because maybe it doesn’t have any value in a graduate program.” I went all in and I really pushed it. I pushed it on the art activities and I’m not an artist, so we were painting pottery, we were creating board games, we were playing with music because I wanted to prove it wrong. What I found myself doing throughout that entire semester is getting to know myself and the things that were happening in my life in a way that I never thought was possible.
In a three, four month period of time, my world changed. I got very clear about what I wanted and what I didn’t want. As a result, I ended up beginning the planning stages of Leadership Arts Associates. I can tell you at the end of the four month period, I did not know that’s what was going to be. I knew something was coming and that was the start, so going through these reflective pieces allowed me to get to a place where I actually decided to become a business owner, something that I had never, ever considered on my own. The only kind of possibility that this would have ever come across my radar is maybe owning a store because of my retail background. Never would I have considered a consulting business, a training business, a personal and professional development business. Never.
It took all that time of seeing things in different ways and playing with images. It’s just amazing what that presentational knowing unlocks and how long we have shut it off as adults. That’s what it is. I mean, for years I had to work with motivational theories like Maslow’s. I was exposed to the human relations movement with guys like Elton Mayo, but it was when Heron and Reason came into my life and brought this artistic piece, this creative piece into my life, that I did not think would possibly happen. That was when I realized that it all made sense. There was something here of substance.
That is Heron and Reason’s four ways of knowing. We are now to the last module. On module five, I’m going to be sharing with you our ideology, which is basically at Leadership Arts Associates what we believe from all of these things that I have shared with you, when they are all mushed together, how they have come back out and become the beliefs, and the core philosophy of Leadership Arts Associates and what drives all the work that we do.
I hope that you join me for module five as we close out LA 101 and allow me to share with you how this all manifests and materializes itself at the end.