Spiral dynamics is a model of human development based on the theories and work of Dr. Clare Graves, and arguing that human nature or character is changeable and adaptable. When faced with crisis or inspiration humans will develop more complex models of behavior that will take their evolution as a human being to the next level.
Each new level reached will include the previous one and will allow the individual to benefit from an evolved perspective due to new and improved values, beliefs and behaviors. Spiral dynamics is not liner in nature, each person will have different levels of development depending on different areas of their life. They might be a green with their kids, but a red at work. Defining your spheres of life (self, work and relationships) and then consulting the chart below will help you identify where your challenges are, so that you can work with a coach on tailoring a plan for taking yourself to the next level of evolution and live a better life.
Beige- lowest level of human operation where focus is on survival, meeting one’s biological needs and instincts. Fear of life, and automatic responses at a mental level. Thinking processes are reactive coming automatically from the primitive brain instead of holistic from the neocortex. The person is consumed with these basic needs and instincts and cannot adopt a higher perspective.
Purple- the focus is on seeking safety by conformity in order to better survive. The individual disregards his own wishes or values in order to fit in and assure acceptance in that community. Associations are made based on what is gained instead of personal values and the individual conforms because they cannot see another way of getting by. Think communist countries where you either join the communist party or know that you will be harassed in all sorts of ways for being an outsider. Of course on a subtler level that happens in our society also by not belonging to certain groups that are considered cool, or not living your life in conformity with culturally acceptable lifestyles.
Red- is about being assertive, aggressive, energetic, powerful and dominant. Red is also about confrontation, self assertion on a primal level especially if it involves violence and force. It is about imposing your way on others. When you feel furious or protective that you could barely control yourself physically, you are in a red state of mind. All is fair in love and war for reds, they will plan and strategize to get what they want even if that will hurt others. Reds don’t care what they have to do or how their actions are affecting others, the only thing that matters to them is getting what they want. They will exploit and manipulate others for their selfish needs and rarely feel shame or guilt.
Blue- is concerned with law, order, rules, routines, authority and the correct way of doing things. Blue is about good or bad, right or wrong, and in the religious sense it’s a good or bad that’s handed down by a divine source or a god. When a red discovers the power of right and wrong and acquires a sense of seeking justice in life, they will become a blue. The strength of a blue is that they will give their life to protect their opinions about what is right and how it should be. The weakness of a blue is that they don’t understand that other people have different rules than they do, that they can have a total different perception and perspective and that perspective is equal to their own. Because of that blues can get rigid and feel like people around them do things wrong. That coupled with the desire to change the world to whatever they perceive to be the right way makes them abuse others at times and that’s how they can devolve again into becoming a red.
Orange- the focus of orange is to discover success through figuring out how the world works then taking advantage of that. Think of science and entrepreneurial endeavors, which are questioning past models and finding new ways of getting results. Orange is the strategic innovator, scientist, and entrepreneur. Orange leaps over right and wrong and focuses on solutions, they don’t believe in rules handed down to them, they want to discover the operating principles, design new solutions on their own and make a profit out of that. Oranges criticize blues thinking they are dogmatic, rigid, followers lacking creativity. The vulnerability of oranges is that being preoccupied with the results they might become amoral. Think large corporations that have found a way of making huge profits and now don’t care about people or the social impact that they might have. They can pollute, cut forests, or damage the health of individuals but they do not care about it because all they care is making more and more money. Oranges seek to discover the organizing principles of the universe, they don’t want laws handed down to them from a god, they want to discover principles through experimentation.
Green- their focus is on results, not just for the individual or the business, but for society as a whole. Greens focus on fairness, sustainability, collaboration, equality, interdependence, ethics, values, and community. They care about everybody and the planet, they are about protecting everyone and finding solutions that benefit everyone involved. The limitation of green is that they can become inefficient since in their desire of making everyone equal they fail to make decisions. They get stuck in not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings and fail to realize that sometimes a decision has to be made even if it hurts someone’s feelings because it will benefit a larger group.
These levels usually criticize each other-
-green thinks that orange is self centered and lacks social values.
-orange thinks that blue is dogmatic and conformist
-blue thinks that red is immoral
Each level thinks that the others are wrong and they themselves are the right way
Yellow- is the integration level- if the other levels think that they know the only way, yellow believes that no level is right or wrong. Yellow understands there are situations where you need to be red, others when you need to be blue or green or purple. They are aware that we have these levels of being inside of us at all times and that they don’t have to agree with another persons decision to live a certain way, but they can offer the space for freedom of individual expression. They do not get involved in gossiping or criticizing others, they just do what they feel is right and ignore the rest. Exactly as the different personality traits or identities we have in certain situations we will embody more or less of one or another level depending on what the moment calls for. When you get to live in the yellow, which by the way is also the color of your solar plexus( your power in the world) you drop judgment and separation and learn to balance everything. Here you are at peace and live in inner harmony. Nothing limits you and defines you in boxes. Yellow can move from level to level as it is necessary to serve the better outcome, that is why it is important in life to be flexible and always choose the path towards long term happiness instead of shortcuts that provide just instant gratification but misery in the long run.
Turquoise- is the next level of integration- holistic view of the world, unconditional love for all that is. No judgment or attachment to the material world, but more of an understanding that all is evolving in it’s own time and space. Think Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa, people concerned with the welfare of other human beings, even people that hurt them.