The New Johari Window #30: Quadrant Four: The Unknown Area

The New Johari Window #30: Quadrant Four: The Unknown Area

Clearly, Luft has infused his analysis of Quad Four and the value of moving Quad Four material into the other three quadrants with the optimism of the American school. Yet, as we have already seen in Luft’s analysis of the other three quadrants, we can’t readily dismiss him as either naïve or simplistic. He offers many exceptional insights regarding this final quadrant.

Potential for the Future, Residue of the Past

In essence, Luft views Quad Four as a rich, untapped gold mind for personal and interpersonal growth:[iii]

What we inherit in our genes and what remains as yet unrealized are also important components of quadrant four. Latent talent may grow at any time in life depending on conditions and opportunities. People may bloom with extraordinary abilities in their later years, and as the life span is extended more persons have the opportunity to develop their Q4 resources.

Quadrant Four contains the untapped resources of the person: (1) what we don’t know and what is potential about our interpersonal needs, and (2) what is about to come to center stage in our developmental process.

Erik Erikson—a famous psychoanalyst (and former actor)—addresses this concept of potential and residue by introducing a theatrical metaphor. He describes each of us as standing on a stage, playing eight different parts (developmental phases of life). At any one moment, one of these eight parts is front stage and in the spotlight. We (the ego—or audience) are focused on this one phase; however, all of the other seven players are always present on the stage and are always part of the “play.” They reside at the back or side of the stage and are out of the spotlight; however, they always influence the phase that is in the spotlight. Some represent a phase that was formerly in the spotlight (residue). Others represent a phase that is yet to occupy center stage (potential).

Erikson further suggests that the former phases (or specific developmental issues associated with these phases) are likely to play particularly powerful roles (in relation to the spotlighted phase) if they were not very successfully played out or negotiated when in the spotlight. We move on to the next phase, but the “baggage” (to mix our metaphors) from the previous phase(s) lingers and continues to interplay with or even interfere with the role being played by the phase that is currently in the spotlight. This, in turn, increases the chance that current developmental issues won’t be successfully addressed. This, in turn, increases the chances that this phase itself will linger and impact on the next phase when it is in the spotlight.


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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