Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Scuba Creed

Written by: on December 2, 2021

The subtle definition of insanity–going in circles. We have never done it that way before so we will choose to keep doing the same thing in hopes we will get different results; big circles.  Insanity is the subtle rationale for Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey’s book An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization. They offer a way out of the circle of insanity for businesses by presenting a new way of people development.

Kegan and Lahey bring their breadth and depth of psychological development research and experience to their current book An Everyone Culture. They invite business leaders to imagine what could change if they deliberately challenge everyone in the organization to engage/participate in developing culture through intentionally leaning into their growing edges to advance one’s own way of being. Their proposition of a new model for businesses is in hopes for organizations to realize the potential of its employees more fully and therefore the organization itself. Deliberate Developing Organizations curate space for everyone to seize opportunities for deeper learning and development.

Using three organizations as case studies to illuminate how DDO may be embodied, the authors provide insight into the power of practicing deliberate development. At the heart of the “meaning-making” process of development are three dimensions of Edge, Home, and Groove. Each dimension of the DDO has 4 features they describe as “discontinuous departures”[1]they consider to be qualitative differences from the typical approaches to employee development. It is at the intersection of these dimensions that individuals may grow into “becoming better versions of themselves”[2] and by which the organization too becomes a better version.

The authors believe adults thrive when given opportunities to learn. What better way to grow than through our weaknesses and errors? When there is a culture of trust, humans are less inclined to hide their vulnerabilities. In a community of support intentionally designed to engender investment in each other, practices of accountability and empowerment birth a wholeness of being in the individual and community. There is power in the community when everyone is bringing their “whole self” to work. No longer will organizations need to go in circles; they can be in partnership with each other creating a lively dance.

As far as the impact of the book on me? Mind. On. Overload. In my brief encounter with the book, I saw connections with so many of the books this semester. There are not enough words left in my post to enumerate them! The overarching theme that resonates with me is the power organizations can have if leadership is intentional in curating practices that integrate the wholeness of the person by way of “people development”. This concept is at the heart of my NPO. As Christians we are called to be mindful of the needs of those around us. In attending to the wholeness of an individual we impact the wholeness of the community, leading to a healthier society.

A few of my initial questions are: How can the impact of people development as listed on page 1-2 be understood in the church structure? How might we apply the “incubator of people growth”[3] to individual churches and denominations? Does the “pursuit of new incomes”[4] manifest in the ways people approach church? Do the three plateaus in adult mental complexity[5]impact the decision on what church a person gravitates towards? And what does it mean to not only have self-differentiated individuals but self-differentiated church structure?

I found Yochanan Altman, Ph.D. offers this critique, “The academic in me would like to see a more rounded assessment and to hear about the dark side: age profiles (is this a youth culture?), turnover (what happens to those expelled from “Paradise”?), the tyranny of peer pressure to conform.”[6]  His wonderings are interesting and worthy of adding to the discussion when I dive deeper into An Everyone Culture.

As a scuba instructor I have the opportunity to see:
• Fear changed to courage
• Faintheartedness converted into accomplishment
• Timidity transformed into confidence
• Anticipation turned into passion
As a scuba instructor I can:
• Open hearts and minds to the hidden beauty of nature’s creation and our obligation to protect it
• Foster self-esteem in another person
• Teach the value of character and integrity
• Transform another human being and change a life for the better and forever.

When I graduated with my Open Water Scuba Instructor certification, they handed us a card with this creed. I welled up with tears. Immediately I had a sense of confirmation that my goal to use SCUBA as a platform for ministry was in my hands. This creed embodies the essence of my understanding of being a pastor. I think it also speaks to the purpose of An Everyone Culture. If I can work to apply DDO dimensions in the places I work, I believe these places would stop the circles of insanity and not drown underwater…unless of course we don’t pay attention to our air gauge and run out of air…but that is for another blog.

[1] An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization .Page 87.

[2] Ibid. Page 5

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. Page 8.

[5] Ibid. Page 62.

[6] https://www.shrm.org/executive/resources/people-strategy-journal/Summer2016/Pages/book-everyone.aspx

About the Author


Nicole Richardson

PC(USA) pastor serving a church in Kansas City. In my spare time I teach yoga and scuba diving

10 responses to “The Scuba Creed”

  1. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Nicole, great connection to the scuba world when it comes to positive impact on people. One sentence jumped off the page to me. You wrote, “The overarching theme that resonates with me is the power organizations can have if leadership is intentional in curating practices that integrate the wholeness of the person by way of “people development.” I wonder how often leaders who struggle with their own insecurities work against that opportunity rather than make it happen? Do you think church ministry presents more or less of an opportunity to create that kind of culture? Still praying for Tom’s recovery!

    • mm Nicole Richardson says:

      Roy thank you for your continued prayers!
      My experience with fellow pastors has been many “Hide” just like those in the non-church arena. We drank the koolaid that says pastors must have it all together. We are fond of being on the pedestal with Jesus lololol. I think this is where the life enduring process of practicing self-differentiation becomes so important….it is during those moments we are more likely to create space for others to engage in wholeness making

  2. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Nicole: 3 gifs this time — you went out big this semester 😉 I appreciate your candor and questions that you pose. As you stated, “In attending to the wholeness of an individual we impact the wholeness of the community, leading to a healthier society” and from knowing about your NPO I agree this book will be able to speak directly to the heart of what you’re going after. I’m interested to know how you’d define “self-differentiated church structure” — does anything specific in terms of a possible model come to mind?

    • mm Nicole Richardson says:

      🙂 🙂 Go big or go home right??
      I will speak from being Presbyterian…a self-differentiated structure would mean that the different judicatories would be intentional in self-awareness, practicing authentic transparency that is motivated by its own growth potential AS WELL AS the growth potential of the congregations (especially the ones that are small and seen as insignificant). Often it is motivated by what is best for the judicatory only. There is a need for embodying a people development spiritset.

  3. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Nicole: Great essay and I love how you bring your scuba experience into it. It can be a great platform to do ministry and it sounds like you have done exactly that. I have done some scuba diving too and it is another world down there. No matter what the hobby or activity, there can be a way for God to get involved and make it more than just a hobby or activity. Great job.

  4. Elmarie Parker says:

    Thank you, Nicole, for your thoughtful interaction with Kegan and Lahey’s book! I especially appreciated the critique from Altman that you offered…the last point especially caught my attention, in terms of pressure to conform. It resonates with one of my take-aways…that it takes incredibly mature leadership to facilitate a DDO and not go down the toxicity road. Kegan and Lahey address this a bit in their book, but more work in this area is needed. I also appreciated your question: Do the three plateaus in adult mental complexity impact the decision on what church a person gravitates towards? That would make an interesting research proposal!

    • mm Nicole Richardson says:

      Thank you Elmarie. I think the Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking would be a great conversation partner over the 3 Plateaus,
      Your attention to Altman’s thought about conforming reminds me of the HERDING aspect that Friedman addresses.
      I agree with you that this book connects to so many of the books we read this semester.

  5. mm Eric Basye says:

    Great post. Thanks for the videos… they keep my attention as I read so late at night:)

    I too would like to know more of the behind-the-scenes reality that you mentioned from Altman’s critique. What has worked well? What works consistently? What was short-lived? And where did they miss the mark entirely?

    I think these “failures” have a lot to teach us as well… that very concept was in one of the books that we read, but for the life of me, this late at night, I can’t remember which one!

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