Wednesday, October 18th 2017

Spiral Dynamics: The two tiers of consciousness explained

After having read the explanation of Spiral Dynamics, here is how to apply your knowledge of this theory in everyday life

(Read the first part of this two-part series.)

vatmuseumstairs1GUEST COLUMN: MICK QUINN AND DEBORA PRIETO — The easiest way to understand the essential nature of Spiral Dynamics (SD) is to picture a ladder that twists into a never-ending spiral, the top end of which is constantly evolving.

The first six levels of consciousness comprise the “First Tier,” the top from which a revolutionary shift in consciousness occurs that allows for the emergence of the Second Tier. The vMemes (v – for values) that comprise these first two tiers are given a color, making the discussion of SD much easier.

See your true colors

First Tier:

Beige: Starting about 100,000 years ago.
Survival – Sensation: Sharpening the innate instincts and senses just to stay alive. Hunter/gatherer ways of living.

swordplayPurple: Started about 50,000 years ago.
Spirits – Kinship: Searches for harmony and security in a mysterious world. Shows obedience to chiefs and elders.

Red: Starting about 10,000 years ago.
Self – Force: Aggressively and impulsively expresses itself regardless of the cost. Enjoy pleasures to the fullest with no guilt or remorse. No respect for authority.

Blue: Started about 5,000 years ago.
Order – Truth: Enforces codes of conduct through domination and threat of predetermined outcomes. Laws and regulations used to build moral standards.

Orange: Starting about 300 years ago.
Achievement – Strategy: Self-interested individuals play to win. Use earth’s resources to create the abundant life. Risk-takers, optimists and successful.

Green: Started about 150 years ago.
Human Relationships – Community: Explores the inner I and places everybody at the same level. Freeing humanity from greed. Egalitarian and caring.

Second Tier:

Yellow: Starting about 50 years ago.
Fluid – Flexible: Integrates prior systems as natural hierarchies. Existence is valued over materialistic pursuits. Sees chaos as the genius of serenity.

Turquoise: Started about 30 years ago
Holistic – Collective Individualism: Self is seen as distinct individuality yet part of greater, ever-evolving whole. AQAL aware. Completely responsible action.

Practical Applications of Spiral Dynamics

helping_handsEach of the eight worldviews (memes) communicates differently, hears things differently, and learns differently. Spiral Dynamics enables people to understand these differences — including core motivators, information-processing styles, learning approaches, and preferred management styles. This knowledge enables communication where both parties truly understand each other’s messages — spoken and unspoken.

By furthering your understanding of how people, organizations, and cultures function from the inside out, SD can empower you to work, learn, and live more successfully. SD allows for better understanding of the complexities of human existence and gives us a way to understand the order and chaos in human affairs. It explains the deep forces embedded in us which ultimately shape our values, and lays out a pattern and a path for transformation.

SD resolving today’s world conflicts

SD reveals the hidden codes that shape human nature, create global diversities, and drive evolutionary change. These dynamic spirals attract and repel individuals from the webs and meshes that connect people within groups, communities, and organizations — they  forge the rise and fall of nations and cultures.

Today, Spiral Dynamics is one of the methods experts apply in South Africa in order to abolish apartheid, achieve consensus, and generate the process of social integration. It is even being used as a negotiation tool in such geopolitical contexts as the Palestine/Israeli conflict.

Spiral Dynamics and you

lookingglass1SD combines the new science of memetics with Gravesian value systems to form vMemes to craft a model of transformational change. By exploring and describing the core intelligences and deep values that flow beneath what we believe and do, this model offers a profoundly incisive, dynamic answers to complex questions:

• HOW do people think about things (as opposed to “what” they think)?
• WHY do people make decisions in different ways?
• WHY do people respond to different motivators?
• WHY and HOW are values created and spread?
• WHAT is the nature of CHANGE?

Now that you have a basic understanding of SD you can think about these questions and whether or not this concept can be applied to you and to people you know.

Sources: Spiral Dynamics – Beck/Cowan: Blackwell Publishing 1996/2006.  The collected works of American Philosopher, Ken Wilber.  EnlightenNext Magazine – Fall/Winter 2002. For more information on Spiral Dynamics, please visit EnlightenNext Magazine and Spiral Dynamics Integral.

mickquinn1Mick Quinn is the Irish-born author of the recently released book, The Uncommon Path (O-Books UK/USA) and the founder of several multi-million dollar companies. Mick lives in Utah and teaches with his wife Debora Prieto who uses Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind Process.  For Integral Coaching and upcoming events please visit his site.

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3 Comments on “Spiral Dynamics: The two tiers of consciousness explained”

  1. Dear Mick and Debora,

    I've just noticed that you are a serious students of the spiral values theory and model of the late Dr. Clare W. Graves. I enjoyed your piece and especially your graphics. Very knowledgeable and very professional. And I agree that psychological studies are a fertile domain for insights into the human experience and its progress and development.

    To that end, I would like to make you aware of my latest book, The Mother of All Minds: Leaping Free of an Outdated Human Nature. My works on the Graves theory have been cited by some (such as the reader quoted below) as among the most readable, consistent and insightful popular introductions to Dr. Graves' theory and model.

    Here is that reader's comments about The Mother of All Minds:

    The Mother of All Minds is a fascinating, intricate and brilliant work, yet as readable as a good novel. It is both philosophically challenging and at the same time practically useful to people who are serious about wanting to grow and adapt to the new world we live in. I found it as impactful as a punch in the face but not without a sense of humour. Dudley Lynch may well be doing for Clare Grave's theory what Daniel Goleman did for Emotional Intelligence.--Noel Odou,
    Author of Magnificently Insignificant (Brolga, 2009), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

    More on The Mother of All Minds here:

    And speaking of personality profiles, we have a number of powerful personal assessment tools used by some of the world's best life and executive coaches based on the Graves theories, in particular, MindMaker6, and our online tool, Yo!Dolphin! Worldview Survey. More info here:

    If you ever have any questions about our approach to all things Gravesean, don't hesitate to drop me an e-mail.

    Best regards,
    Dudley Lynch
    Brain Technologies Corporation
    Gainesville, FL USA

  2. I was introduced to SD over 10 years ago and at the time just took in the theory. Since that time occasionally the key differences between the different 'colours' helped explain difficulties I was having with other organisations.

    Just recently I was hitting up against resistance with others and refreshing myself on the SD model helped explain why and helped normalise how I was feeling rather than thinking I was going mad with my new set of beliefs :-)

  3. I feel very connected, we are being kind of hypocrite towards life and towards ourselves if we don't understand/agree with this evolution/dynamics. Real empathy towards everybody, it is a matter of evolving to the next stage (of enlightment). This may sound simple but then ofcourse it isn't and it can take many life times...

    Some people believe that we are in the middle of an evolution where the stage of enlighthment has become much higher and that for some people it is too hard to take, which would explain the high degree of suicides... do you agree?

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