Unfortunately, we can’t live forever in this suspended state of relativism. We must somehow engage—and even provide leadership—in this world of multiple and often contradictory perspectives. As mature and responsible adults we must make decisions and take actions. Perry identified this fourth perspective as commitment-in-relativism. We recognize that there are alternative standards operating in various communities, but also recognize the need to pick a specific standard and base our actions around this standard. We might change our standard over time and might be able to live in a different community and embrace their standard while living there–but we come back to our base of commitment.
Perry noted that this fourth perspective will look very much like dualism to other people (who are themselves dualists or multiplists). After all, if one is making commitments, then isn’t this deciding that there is a right and wrong answer and a truth that is stable and confirmable? The ongoing challenge of those with a commitment-in-relativism perspective is to recognize that this misunderstanding will often occur and that a clearly articulated rationale must be offered to other people for the decisions being made and actions taken. One of the many functions to be served by a professional coach concerns helping a client achieve this clarity. This clarity, in turn, often requires that we, as coaches, engage the wisdom to be found in many different disciplines.
Grieving the Loss of Innocence and Freedom
William Perry offered yet another insight that is particularly poignant for those who are coaching clients moving from one of these perspectives to another perspective. Perry suggests that this movement inevitably involves a grieving process. In essence, one is moving from one sense of self and one sense of the world in which we live, to another self and another sense of the world. In moving from dualism to multiplicity we are losing some of our innocence, while the movement from multiplicity to relativism requires the abandonment of irresponsibility. We must “grow up” – which is rarely enjoyable. The art of coaching is often engaged when we assist our client in navigating this difficult transition.Download Article 1K Club