In the second stage of our lives, which spans from the ages of one to three years, the fundamental task we aspire to achieve is autonomy.
Autonomy is the ability to do things independently, to try things out and succeed at them without the need for assistance from others. During this phase, we begin to explore the world around us, touching, grabbing and even putting things in our mouths as we discover what we can do with our bodies.
However, when we are not encouraged to explore, but instead are punished for doing so, we fail to master the task of autonomy.
For instance, a two-year-old child who touches something might immediately be scolded by their parents, who say things like “No, don’t touch that” or “Don’t do this or that”. In some cases, parents may have given the child too many instructions instead of facilitating their exploration.
This kind of treatment can instill fear in the child and hinder their ability to experiment and explore. Such individuals often struggle with feelings of shame and guilt as adults, according to Erikson.
It is important to note that as leaders, our actions and behaviors impact those who follow us, and we have the power to help them complete life tasks they may not have achieved in earlier stages of their lives.
Therefore, it is essential to create an environment that fosters exploration and experimentation while offering guidance and support, so our followers can achieve autonomy and grow into self-sufficient individuals.
So, as a question to ponder, how often do you allow your followers or children to take initiative and risk making mistakes?