Finding The Support You Need For The Personal And Professional Learning Journeys You’ll Face On Your Way To Becoming A Real Adult

David Nicoll, Ph.D
8 min readMar 21, 2022
Photo by Daniel Seßler on Unsplash

In his book, In Over Our Heads, Robert Kegan suggests that individuals who want to change should think carefully about the support they’ll need during their learning journey. Kegan likens this support to a companion who’s with you every step of the way across a long bridge that spans the space between where you are today to where you need to be tomorrow.

Kegan uses a bridge metaphor because he knows real bridges have girders, trusses, columns, and abutments, all aspects of a bridge’s infrastructure designed and built to make sure it’s stable and strong.

In his discussions of genuine behavioral change efforts, Kegan employs the idea of a “transformational bridge” so he can use the girders, trusses, columns, and abutments that make up its support system as metaphors for the different kinds of personal support we, as learners, will need at various points during our personal and professional developmental efforts.

With this bridge metaphor, Kegan is telling us that, during our walk across the “transformational bridges” we launch, we will need support on “both ends” of the bridge and at “certain places” in the middle. Every personal learning journey needs its own unique “girders” and “buttresses.”

Personal Support Systems

In my experience, the support Kegan’s talking about includes the knowledge, the resources, and the people we need to organize and put into place before we step off into a real change effort effort.

This “finding and organizing” work are the things that need to be done during what Prochaska and DiClemente have called the “change readiness process.”

Prochaska’s and DiClemente’s change readiness program involves three essential steps; Pre-Ccontemplation, Contemplation, and Preparation. It’s during these three steps where we find the “learning companions” who can and will support us at the various “milestone moments”/”inflection points” we will encounter as we walk across our transformational bridge.

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David Nicoll, Ph.D

I’m a dad, a reader, writer, and thought partner for individuals looking to improve their lives. My passion is learning and meeting this century’s challenges.