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The 4D human being – development with a difference


Tom Bruno-Magdich and Philippa Waller talks us through the concept of the 4D Human Being.

If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.’ Abraham Maslow

Most of us would agree that we want to feel fulfilled. We want to know that our lives have meaning and that we are making a real difference personally and professionally. This drive for purpose is fast becoming the distinguishing mark of living in the 21st century. We want to do well, yes; but we also yearn for more than just material gain. In this increasingly complex, volatile and unpredictable time we live in, we are looking for a better understanding of ourselves and of each other.

The 4D human being model is based on Integral Theory: the most comprehensive theory of human development to date. Most recently brought to prominence by the American philosopher Ken Wilber, Integral Theory goes back to include philosophers, mystics and scientists from the last 3,000 years with strong roots in the ancient Eastern traditions.

In the west we have, for the most part, compartmentalised our way of being, often living in our heads (intellect). Healthcare is a good example of this with the body seen as a separate entity from our emotions, feelings and thoughts. But increasingly, neuroscience is showing how emotional states and ways of thinking have both subtle and profound effects on our entire wellbeing. The most dramatic demonstration of this mind-body connection is the Placebo Effect.

We are discovering that humans are not simply 3D beings. We are actually four-dimensional, comprised of four distinct but integrated parts. Three of which are related to our physical experience – the body, heart and mind. The fourth is the dimension of consciousness or spirit. In other words the feeling of being a person with your own values, ideas and beliefs. Each of these dimensions must be supported, developed and integrated in order for us to function to our highest potential.

Organisational development can be prone to seeing employees as two-dimensional beings – physical bodies transporting intellectual brains to the office. Training and leadership programmes are often about the physical and intellectual dimensions (more output, more profit, more turnover) with little acknowledgement of employees’ emotional or intentional selves, at least outside of the remit of making everyone more productive. But it is our emotions and values that drive us. There is virtually no chance of being fully productive or creative if you can’t harness your feelings or sense of purpose.

Live, love, work

The 4D Human Being is a roadmap for fully integrated development. It focuses on supporting a person’s intellectual, emotional, physical and intentional dimensions so that they can bring their whole selves to work. 4D Human Being is a way of living, loving and working where the primary focus is on engaging and connecting with each other through self-awareness and effective communication. In short it supports:

  • Physical – communicating with our bodies, the way we behave and what we do

  • Emotional – communicating from our hearts, the way we feel and make others feel

  • Intellectual – communicating knowledge, information and using our ability to think logically + creatively

  • Intentional – communicating the personal values and beliefs that drive us

Without conscious awareness of how your four dimensions function together, one dimension may well dominate your behaviour. This can create painful ways of being with a person becoming stuck in old and limited ways of working. You can probably picture the brilliant leader who may be energised and full of well-meaning intentions but ignores the needs of her body and mind making her prone to ill health and intellectual stagnation. Or on the other side, there is the not-so-brilliant leader who is driven by his intellect, coupled with a need to win and as a result has lost touch with his humanity. In fact the effect of this type of disintegrated thinking and behaviour led to some rather nasty financial crashes in 2008.

The 4D Human Being helps leaders and managers to put their attention on their ‘intention.’ By activating this fourth dimension leaders are able to consciously focus in on their physical, emotional and intellectual energy in a more integrated way. Conceptually this means shifting from a three-dimensional view of yourself as a human 'doing' to a four-dimensional human 'being'. The difference is huge, both in terms of how you feel and think and how other people perceive you day to day. Practically it means consciously creating the impact, life and career you choose.

Whole person business - YOU + I = WE & IT

Taking an integrated approach to development and communication enables people to raise their consciousness, decrease stress and boost confidence. They can literally step into a new way of being. It is important that individuals – (YOU and I), teams (WE) and organisations (IT) expand their capacity for looking at themselves and the issues they face through an integral lens. This gives business and employees more choices, perspectives and understanding.

Many of us love to read articles on what successful businesses will look like in the future, and then we wonder why it isn’t happening now. But until the ‘you’ and the ‘I’ are interconnected at a holistic level you won’t get an effective ‘we’ and ‘it’ space. Businesses have traditionally shied away from holistic approaches, but developing our bodies, minds, emotions and intention is essential for our wellbeing and way of working. Fully integrated human beings build successful, healthy organisations through effective communication that creates powerful cultures. When our thinking and our behaviours are aligned we enable more efficient and supportive systems and processes. Together we communicate, connect and create a bigger sense of purpose in all four dimensions.

Tom Bruno-Magdich and Philippa Waller are coaches at the 4D Human Being. All 4D integral coaches and training facilitators have held leadership positions in business, been successful actors, hold a psychotherapy or counseling qualification and have a deep understanding of Integral Theory


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