Looking at these eight stages in life, I humbly aspire to offer you a paradigm that can potentially aid you in becoming a magnificent leader, by comprehending your role in your followers’ lives, based on the stage they presently find themselves in.
At each of these eight stages, we are presented with a life task that we must accomplish, which serves as a foundation for the next stage. During the stage of infancy, our life task is to attain mastery in trust. This task is not one that is instructed to us by someone, but rather it is innate within us, as a motivation to fulfill this life task.
Erikson posits that if we fail to complete the life task of trust, the opposite of trust will become our fate, and in this case, it is mistrust. If we are unable to establish trust in people due to the circumstances we face or the actions of others towards us, we fail to master trust, and it may manifest as mistrust, which might remain with us for the rest of our lives.
Now, it might seem as though we are helpless victims of what happened to us during that stage of our lives. Suppose, for instance, you were born to parents who were alcoholics or addicts and did not take care of you. In that case, does it mean that you will always have mistrust towards people? Not necessarily. While our past certainly plays a part in shaping who we are today, it is not the sole determinant of our present or future.
This is why I implore you to recognize the incredible privilege you possess as a leader to influence and aid your followers in becoming who they are destined to be, irrespective of their past. If you or any of your followers have yet to master a certain life task at a particular age, there is so much you can do to help them cross the bridge and complete unfinished business.
So, as a question to ponder, in what stage of human development are you?