Podcast – Episode 0156 – Conditions For Moving Up Graves Model Spiral Dynamics

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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about the conditions that need to be in place for an individual or society to move up the Graves Model Spiral Dynamics.

In this podcast you’ll find:

Initial Graves Model Podcast

Podcast 155 – Stratified Levels Of The Graves Model Spiral Dynamics

Personality Tools: The Graves Model, aka “Spiral Dynamics”

  • According to Spiral Dynamics, six things have to be in place before a person can go from one level of the graves model to the next.
  • Don Beck (author of Spiral Dynamics) consulted with Nelson Mandela.
  • The Graves model has helped to create systemic changes in South Africa.
  • The six things that have to be met in your life before you can move to the next level:
    • 1) Potential: Live Mind vs. Dead Mind podcast.
      • Opened, closed, or arrested mind.
        • Open mind is a readiness to move into new ways of being. Flexibility, adaptability.
        • A closed mind is the belief that this is all there is. There is nothing you can change. Seven things indicate a closed state, such as perfectionism, insatiability, undo response to frustration/ blowups, creating a shell around you, impenetrability. Fear of loss.
        • Arrested mind has a proclivity to being open to new ways of being, but they don’t want to rock the boat and destabilize their world. So they hold themselves to a loop.  If you find yourself in a closed state, try graduating to a more open place.
      • Your Graves level is where you are personally at in your development. Your world view.
      • The environment that surrounds you is called “Life Conditions” in Spiral Dynamics.
      • If your level matches the challenges you are experiencing in your environment, then that is the appropriate level for you.
    • 2) If you have solved all the problems on a given level you are ready to move on. But if there is still some conflict with your current level, you aren’t qualified to move on. You don’t have the tools to enter the next level.
      • “Zone of Comfort” – All solutions have been put in place to solve all the challenges of current and previous levels.
    • 3) If you have solved all the problems in the current Graves level you will start noticing problems arising that you can’t solve by current level standards. So some dissonance comes along, and you realize that you need new open ways of being to solve the new challenge.
    • 4) Responsibility. There might be structures in your way that are blocking you from moving to the next level; could be your spouse, employment, or religion – whatever stops you from moving forward.
      • Antonia’s mom has lived her entire life in Graves Level 4. Her dad is Graves Level 5 and has been since he was a young adult. He started peeking into Graves 6 when he was in his 50s, but he realized he would be leaving his wife behind. He wasn’t willing to leave her behind so he has chosen to stay in Graves level 5.  
      • “Move from identified to overcome.” Eliminate the barrier, bypass it, neutralize it, or reframe it into something else.
      • Sometimes our shifts can create shifts in others. Have faith that removing the barrier isn’t going to be the end of the world.
      • Identity is the barrier that prevents most people from moving forward.   
      • When an entire institution is ready to level up, it may feel like identifiers will be lost. Whatever vacuum is created by leveling up is soon filled by something that fits us better.
      • We let go of attachment to that identity. You don’t lose all of it, just aspects that are no longer necessary.
    • 5) Insight. “What got you here won’t get you there.” What has been working won’t keep working. Hundreds of years ago, walls were logical boundaries to keep out people. The Great Wall of China served its purpose a few hundred years ago. But walls don’t work as well now.
      • It suddenly dawns on you that the things that have always worked in the past just aren’t going to work anymore.
      • A hammer has always worked. But if you are trying to sink a screw, the hammer isn’t the right tool.
    • 6) Consolidation. Supportive structure to enable us to level up. Then supportive structures to help us once we reach the next level.
      • Particularly necessary in even levels (2,4,6) –  more community focused.
      • Not as necessary in odd levels (3,5,7) – more individual focused.
      • When you go up a level, you have a renewed zest for life. You’re also fairly klutzy. It’s nice to have someone who holds space for you while you adapt.

In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about the conditions that need to be in place for an individual or society to move up the Graves Model Spiral Dynamics. #gravesmodel #personalgrowth #spiraldynamics

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Showing 12 comments
  • FriendlySpock

    Also, I seem to be trying to skip to level 7. Well, I guess I know what to focus on now.

  • FriendlySpock

    I thought the idea of the current level being right for you in the context while still encouraging us to level up seemed confusing, but I related it with this quote I found.

    “When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is. — Timothy Gallwey

    Not the exact explanation maybe. Am I right?

    As an INTP, I seem to have some ease with the odd levels. It seems some of my life is level 5 and some is staring in level 6. It was a pretty weird experience getting into a more community mindset. I was resisting it for the need of my own independence and my own time for my own achievement in things. I kept bothering why I bothered to change but I somehow stuck to it for some reason. I guess after listening to this I’ll be trying the idea of a support structure — mostly as a reminder that I’m not crazy for changing which a part of me seems to be saying. Lots of the people around me are level 4 and the idea of going through level 5 for a few years seemed different enough already. I’ll probably be pondering the idea of not entirely changing my identity but expanding to it. Well, thank you.

  • Megan

    I’ve been really interested in using graves model and seeing how it plays out in my life. Learning about it was one thing that made me realize that I (as an INFJ) am WAY more comfortable in the even levels. My mindset is more on par with level 6 however I never really experienced level 5. I am realizing that I was in level 4 and wanting to skip over level 5 to go to 6 because that is more comfortable for me. My ENTJ partner is level 5 and his support and encouragement helped me to embrace the entrepreneur spirit that I have been suppressing. I’m now taking business classes and planning to launch my own business later this year. It feels “right” to be in this place now, once I got over the fear and uncertainty of it. Thanks again for your podcast!

    • Kelley

      Megan- I am also an INFJ and I feel the exact same way. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like maybe I have been rejecting/resisting 5 for a really long time because I don’t see it as fitting into my value system, which oddly I feel like is defined largely by 6 principles. Being a millennial in DC, I feel like I have learned to operate in a 6 community without really getting to 6 personally. Clearly, I am still working through understanding an applying this framework, so I am not completely sure if this makes sense.

  • Kelley

    I went back and listened to the first podcast on the Graves model and then listened to this one. Thank you for these podcasts. I am incredibly excited by yet another set of categories to explain and understand people and society. I also have been pondering Graves 5. Can Graves 5 be embodied by some kind of behavior that seeks to maximize perceived infinite resource(s) other than money/profitable business endeavors? Does this possibly look a bit different for someone in a field such as academia or government? Is this a very Graves 4 question to ask?

    • Antonia Dodge

      Yes, Graves 5 (Orange) can look a variety of ways and doesn’t have to specifically be about money generation. Although I usually recommend individuals figure that piece out since by the time you get to 6 and 7 you’ll want the resource necessary to have both influence and freedom of time and movement (which money generally affords us – freedom).

      If a person can generate influence and freedom of time and movement without money, then that’s great. Money is just a tool to get what levels 5 and above are trying to accomplish.


      • Kelley

        Thank you for your response, Antonia!

  • Misha

    Thank you once again for a very interesting podcast. I think I get hung up on how Graves level 5 looks like – wealth, power, influence, technology, entrepreneurship? Can you expand on that a bit. What do you think stops people from going into Graves level 5?

    • Holly McIntosh

      HI Misha!
      Funny enough – some ppl get
      caught up on the very thing you
      said that you get caught up on:
      wealth, power, influence, tech,
      entrepreneurship. Also – there
      are some generations that are
      very interested in these things,
      and some that are not. I often
      wonder how much that plays a
      part as well. Have you listened
      to our Generational Theory
      podcast with Jessie Newburn?


      And thank you for joining
      the conversation! We always Love
      hearing from our PH community!

  • Michie Kuratomi

    Thank you! I gained a new perspective on my divorce. It sounds very much like Antonia’s description of her dad peaking up into green, but going back to stay close to her mom, but I made the opposite choice. In the 5 years since, I have never been able to shake his comment of “Everything is so comfortable! Why do you want to change that?” I’m not sure which graves level I went to, but it was an even level. In the space of a year, I left my job, my husband, and most of my friends. I now feel like I have options when my growth outpaces someone important to me instead of removing them from my life.

    • Holly McIntosh

      Hi Michie!
      I’ve experienced some of the points
      you’ve mentioned as well. As an
      ENFJ, it was difficult at first to “leave
      ppl behind”. But eventually I worked
      my way through it.
      I’m so glad that you resonated with this
      podcast so deeply. We love hearing back
      from our PH Community! Thank you 🙂

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