Combining Mind, Heart and Will to Actualize Potential

Developing human potential is the process of using will to choose to develop our knowing and loving and then translating them into positive action. We can do this by starting at any of these three points and combining it with the others. For example, we may start with action: we may be doing something and feel it is not as effective as it could be. As we reflect on why we feel this way and how we might improve, we think about what might work better. In these processes it always helpful to consult with others, especially those involved in the activity, as well as those who might have more knowledge and experience.

The change process must involve all three capacities to be systematic, sustainable and effective. In this process, all participants should be considered as collaborators in establishing clarity of vision, purpose and roles that evolve and are reevaluated as needed according to new learning and changed circumstances. Positive power results from combining these three components. (See figure 2.)

Go to Papers to see Figure 2. Human Resource Development Capacities, Principles and Questions.

Our thinking, feeling and choosing can be exercised individually, collectively, subjectively and objectively. All four aspects or perspectives should be considered. The importance being guided by truth, love and justice should not be underestimated. Many of the problems in the world can be diagnosed as some imbalance or failure to apply these three human potentialities among individuals, communities and institutions. Dialogue and agreement using all three principles to regulate and apply our lives and to maintain unity is vital.

Whereas truth should guide us in understanding our world and ourselves, love should be the dominant principle in our relationships with one another and justice should be the primary standard of institutions for the maintenance of progress, order and unity in a society. Emotions provide affect for our actions and will commits, directs and energizes our behavior. Our cognitive, emotional and volitional development are greatly affected by our social environments, especially in our early years. Though aspects of each of these faculties are influenced by inherited qualities from genetic endowments, they are shaped and developed through the interactions of our thoughts, feelings and actions with the environment.

As we increasingly learn to reason and develop clear and healthy values by exercising decision-making capacities through loving, fair and respectful engagement with others, we develop our potential for service and happiness. Healthy role models and values inspire and help us become more responsible and service oriented (Damon, 1988). By fostering moral awareness and an emotional vocabulary, enhancing sensitivity to the feelings of others and developing empathy for other points of view, we can create a context for growth using virtues to strengthen conscience, guide behavior and foster moral discipline. By establishing a zero tolerance for meanness, prejudice, gossip, fault finding and backbiting and modeling and prioritizing self-control, courtesy, respect and self-motivation, we can help others control their thinking, feeling and choosing before they act (Borba, 2002).

As we create social and cultural contexts to support the development of intellectually, emotionally and morally mature persons through critical thinking, altruistic feelings and moral decision-making and conduct, we affect the climate and policies around us. Until human resource development

focuses on the cultivation of character and the development of a moral sense of identity and moral imperative, until it begins to purposefully emphasize models of authentic moral authority and to foster moral responsibility and agency, until it makes central the cultivation of expanding levels of empathy, progressively embracing the human race and until it is willing to entertain an explicit spiritual conversation about truth and meaning in life, it cannot really fulfill its responsibility to human potential (Mustakavoa-Possardt, 2004, p. 266).

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About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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