The Sovereignty & Generativity Cycle is a framework that guides clients on their journeys towards living and leading with integrity and humanity.
The Sovereignty & Generativity Cycle emerged from the work that I've done with clients over the years as we navigated the tension, and sometimes conflict, between self and other, in the personal, professional and global domains of their everyday lives, as neurodifferent individuals and leaders.
There are four stations: integrity, authenticity, connection and relationship.
Each station represents a stage in the unfolding cycle of our development and exploration from self to other, and back again.
The four stations are also grouped into three thematic pairs: internal state and external action, sovereignty and generativity, inward and outward direction.
Between the four stations are four liminal spaces, referred to as challenges: capability, safety, adaptability and equanimity.
Each challenge represents a hurdle of development we need acknowledge, master and integrate in order to move from one station to the next.
In reality, of course, stations and challenges are rarely experienced so neatly in order, and often co-occur simultaneously, or dart or dip from one to another.
Familiarity with the different stations and challenges of the framework can help us make sense of the confusion we experience when this happens.
The framework is not a GPS route to be followed. It is more a map that we can use to check in on where we are right now in our journey, allowing us to identify which possible stations or challenges we are experiencing with more ease and confidence.
Though no station is more or less important than others—nor is there truly an objective start and end for the framework is cyclical and lifelong—in my coaching and mentoring practice, we usually start at the station of integrity, for all external and tangible outcomes, with self or others, begin with internal and intangible work of the self.
Finally, we approach working with the framework using three pairs of complementary perspectives: logic and intuition, somatic and cognitive, mindfulness and playfulness.
Below, I will walk you through summaries of each of the stations, challenges, as well as the thematic and perspective pairs.
Integrity is internal and invisible, encompassing the many states and experiences of being.
- Integrity is also the station of self-determination, where we have the opportunity to choose, in any moment, that which is aligned with our highest values, and deepest needs and wants.
- As a station of being, rather than doing, integrity is largely experienced as a subjective felt sense, rather than expressed. This is why integrity is considered an internal and invisible station.
- Another reason is because the choices we make for our integrity are often unknown and unseen by anyone else but ourselves. Only we know if we are aligned with our highest values in any moment. Our external actions do not always reflect or align with what we are experiencing within.
The shadow of integrity is self-abandonment—I CANNOT BE I.
When struggling with integrity, the key quality to call upon is acceptance.
Authenticity is external and visible, encompassing the many actions and expressions of doing.
- Authenticity is also the station of self-responsibility, where we have the opportunity to act, in any moment, in ways that are aligned with our highest values, and deepest needs and wants.
- As a station of doing, authenticity is mostly expressed through external, visible and tangible actions, whether these actions are witnessed by others or not.
The shadow of authenticity is self-denial—I CANNOT DO I.
When struggling with authenticity, the key quality to call upon is courage.
Connection is internal and invisible, the state and experience of being interconnected and interdependent with all beings and things.
- Connection is also the station of shared determination, the space from which we have the opportunity to sense, in any moment, that which is aligned with the highest possible outcomes for all beings and things.
- As a station of being, connection is also experienced as a subjective felt sense.
The two shadows of connection are:
- Contempt of others—THEY ARE NOT I, therefore they are less than I.
- Fear of others—THEY ARE NOT I, therefore they are threat to I.
When struggling with connection, the key quality to call upon is empathy.
Relationship is external and visible, encompassing the many actions and expressions of doing with others.
- Relationship is also the station of shared responsibility, where we have the opportunity to collaborate with others, in any moment, in ways that co-create bespoke shared spaces where all parties can honour others and be honoured.
- As a station of doing, relationship is usually expressed through tangible actions intended to be witnessed and/or received by others with whom we are in relationship.
The two shadows of relationship are:
- Control of others—THEY DO NOT DO AS I DO, therefore they must be wrong.
- Acquiescence to others—THEY DO NOT DO AS I DO, and I have no say.
When struggling with relationship, the key quality to call upon is bidirectional regard, towards self and other.
Capability—I CAN CREATE
We meet the challenge of capability when we seek to move from the internal, invisible experience of integrity to the external, visible expression of authenticity, from I AM to I CAN.
This challenges us to bring forth and mirror our being in the external, visible world, where it can be witnessed, received and interacted with by others.
It requires us to realise, understand and embody the statement of I CAN CREATE, where we leave helplessness and take up coherence and self-responsibility for how we wish to give outwards in the world.
Safety—I CAN TRUST OTHER
We meet the challenge of safety when we seek to open self and sovereignty (integrity and authenticity) to other and generativity (connection and relationship), from I to WE.
This challenges us to open our being to witness and receive others.
It requires us to realise, understand and embody the statement of I CAN TRUST OTHER, where we leave armouring and open to vulnerability and shared determination as our new intermediary for being with others.
Adaptability—I CAN CO-CREATE
We meet the challenge of adaptability when we seek to move from the internal, invisible experience of connection to the external, visible expression of relationship, from WE ARE to WE CAN.
This challenges us to attune and dance with others in active and intentional give-and-take in order to create something greater together.
It requires us to realise, understand and embody the statement of I CAN CO-CREATE, where we leave isolation and open to collaboration and shared responsibility as our new mode for engaging with others.
Equanimity—I CAN TRUST SELF
We meet the challenge of equanimity when the natural tensions and conflicts of relationship create natural perturbations in the self, from WE to I.
This challenges us to reflect upon how we can to choose to respond to the gifts and impacts coming from relationship.
It requires us to realise, understand and embody the statement of I CAN TRUST SELF, where we leave fragmentation and take up integration and self-determination for how we wish to receive inwards from the world.
The Thematic Pairs
Internal state versus external action.
Integrity and connection are internal, invisible states or experience; whereas authenticity and relationship are external and visible actions or expression.
Self domain versus other domain.
Integrity and authenticity work are within the domain of self and sovereignty; whereas connection and authenticity work are within the domain of other and generativity.
Inward versus outward direction.
Integrity and relationship work often involve inward perspective and awareness, into the self and into the relationship.
Authenticity and connection work often involve outward perspective and awareness, towards others and the connection-space between self and other.
The Perspective Pairs
Logic and intuition.
Two abstract modes of data handling.
Logic refers to analysis of the known, whereas intuition refers to receptivity of the unknown.
To work with conscious data
To open to unconscious and superconscious data
Somatic and cognitive.
Two embodied modes of data processing.
Somatic refers to bottom-up, from body to brain-mind (afferent) processes and data, which includes emotional somato-cognitive affective processes and data, and cognitive refers to top-down, brain-mind to body (efferent) processes and data.
Usually non-narrative, non-language, sensation- or emotion-based data
Usually narrative, can be language, visual or audio articulable and manipulable data
Mindfulness and playfulness.
Two forms of non-attachment or non-entanglement practice.
Mindfulness refers to being able to practice witnessing with neutrality, and playfulness refers to being able to practice engaging with lightness.
Why Sovereignty & Generativity?
Frankly, calling it "The Integrity, Authenticity, Connection and Relationship Framework" was just too much of a mouthful—I had to come up with a shorter name! I mean, even the acronym would have been like, "Wut?"
As mentioned above, the Sovereignty & Generativity Cycle is a framework that emerged from the work I've done with clients over the years. Even though my own coaching focus as shifted as I developed as a person, coach and leader, there were always certain themes that stood out to me, even if I wasn't able to articulate them in words initially or easily.
Integrity and authenticity work often begins with the development of a sense of self. In a sense, it is like building a container and a space unique to you. I have often seen integrity and authenticity work as being like building a beautiful castle, where the client learns that they are able to experience clarity and coherence between their inner and outer selves, and have the autonomy and capability to choose exactly where and how they want to build it, decorate it and modify it over time.
The unfoldment of this embodied sense of self through integrity and authenticity work is what I term sovereignty.
However, if sovereignty is done for its own sake, to me, that is like building this beautiful castle in the middle of nowhere, with a flag topping its ramparts proclaiming, "This is I!" To no one and with no one to share it with. Alone and lonely, echoing hollowly out across empty plains.
You are you. Now what? Or more importantly, what's next?
This is not some manifesto for extravertism. That is not what this is about. Connection and relationship are fundamental human needs. Introverts, extraverts and ambiverts simply meet these needs in very different ways, at different times and with different limits and rhythms. All are valid.
When I was contemplating upon the need for a more succinct name for the framework, sovereignty dropped onto the page easily enough as the meta-container for integrity and authenticity work.
However, the meta-container for connection and relationship was a much longer time time coming, and I eventually realised why.
- Why are we drawn to engage in integrity and authenticity work? Even if we don't know it consciously or aren't able to articulate it, usually it is because we know we need and are deserving of sovereignty. We can sense what sovereignty is and means to us, even if we can't feel or embody it just yet.
- Why are we drawn to engage in connection and relationship work? Interestingly, most of us do so because, very often, we are very conscious of the fact that we are feeling isolated, alone and lonely.
In the first, we are moving towards something we know is nourishing and empowering for us. In the second, we are moving away from something we know is enervating and disempowering for us.
This is not to say that moving away from something that saps us of vitality and joy is bad. Having clarity around what is not right or not healthy for us is great, and can be a very powerful motivator in its own right.
What I mean to convey here is the sense of the revelation that I had: What is that similarly nourishing and empowering reason that motivates us to reach for connection and relationship?
The way the term and meta-container of generativity arrived is difficult for me to describe, because it presented itself to me over a period of time as a synaesthesic metaphor of silken energy in motion.
- Sovereignty presented itself as "in breath" and generativity presented itself as "out breath".
- "In breath" brought in silken threads of sparkling energy from outer and other, nourishing and enriching within.
- "Out breath" produced silken sheets of radiant energy that radiated from within self, that connected to all beings and things in existence, nourishing and enriching all, including self but in a completely different way than sovereignty does.
- The "in breath" of sovereignty is understood to be "incomplete" until "out breath" of generativity had occurred.
The metaphor of "incompleteness" was particularly interesting to me for, as I understood it, sovereignty exists therefore to support the next step of our development where we are called to healthy giving and being of service to others through connection and relationship—Giving and being of service being my personal definition of generativity.
It also communicates that wholeness is not limited to or defined within the domain of self. Rather, wholeness is in context of both self and other, just as there is no wholeness with only "in breath", or only "out breath"—Both are needed. Hence: Cycle.
Most importantly, the insight communicates that it is in giving that all, including self, are nourished and enriched. We depend on others, and others depend on us. We are all connected thus. Life is interconnected thus.
The framework thus begins with sovereignty, but is ultimately led by generativity.
I believe generativity is the outcome we seek, and sovereignty is the work we do to make it so. To feel connected to, be in relationship with, give to and serve others, from a space of integrity and authenticity of self.
Hence: Sovereignty & Generativity Cycle.