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How Does Personal Transformation Occur?

by Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew

After a long hard week of preparing for Greater Dallas Movement Day, (an event that has over 1000 in attendance that I have been fortunate to serve as emcee for the past two years) I spent some time taking it easy. I’m not much of a movie watcher but I wanted to see the film, Cadillac Records in its entirety since I’ve only watched bits and pieces in the past. In watching the film, I am reminded that just recently, we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday.

As I watch the movie, I am thinking about the past that was filled with moments of pain, shame, and barriers that prevented individuals from reaching their full potential. Without those who pushed for change like King or individuals who used music to bring people together, there would not have been a movement to make things different. I recognize that my comment does not take into consideration the multiple variables involved and I don’t want to oversimplify what happened but for the sake of this article, I want to focus on movements…personal movements.

I think as a society we focus on the movements that we see take place and think about the impact it has for all of those who benefit from the results. For many of the leaders that are considered remarkable (the famous and not so famous), there are usually moments of personal and perspective transformation that occurs. When I was working on my PhD, I became intrigued with the components of change that we undergo in order to do something different. For many of us, there are a number of situations that occur, according to renowned educator and author Jack Meizrow (2000) which I will condense and summarize:

  • A disorienting dilemma
  • Critical Reflection
  • Perception Transformation

A Disorienting Dilemma

A disorienting dilemma “usually occurs when people have experiences that do not fit their expectations or make sense to them and they cannot resolve the situations without some change in their views of the world.” (http://www.igi-global.com/dictionary/disorienting-dilemma/7944) For many leaders, they are confronted with a situation that causes them to question or experience ‘disequilibrium’. It can be a difficult process because our beliefs and values are challenged.

Critical Reflection

The emotions experienced during this process create opportunities for reflection.

Perception Transformation

Depending on the impact of the dilemma, we either change the way we see things or choose not to move because the change may be too painful to adjust our thinking, our behaviors and our beliefs.

In my research, I brought together a group of very diverse women. As a result of their encounters with one another, many changed their previous thoughts. Their perspectives changed around race, age, and class as a result of being faced with the disorienting dilemmas that they experienced in the dialogues with women who were different. This process is a part of transformative learning theory which states there is a change in self, in our belief system and the way that we live in the world as a result of the dilemma.

In my next article I will share some experiences that I’ve had with my own disorienting dilemmas.

About the Author Froswa' Booker-Drew

Froswa Booker-Drew has built a diverse network of individuals and organizations around the world and has more than 20 years of experience in leadership development, training, nonprofit management, education, and social services. She currently is employed by an international nonprofit and participated in the documentary, “Friendly Captivity,” a film that followed a cast of seven women from Dallas to India in 2008. She is the author of the book, Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last”. She shares her experience of building lasting personal and professional relationships with others. In this recently released book by Austin Brothers Publishing, Booker-Drew explores how many businesswomen and mothers don’t believe they have the time or energy to find and develop new relationships. “Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last” is a workbook for women who understand the value of relating to others, both professionally and personally. For more information on the book, visit www.austinpublishingbrothers.com.

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