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Barrett's Seven Levels of Consciousness

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If you enjoyed last week's look at Maslow's hierarchy, its limitations and implications, you may find Richard Barrett's model interesting as well. Click on the image below to see a larger version. Barrett has taken Maslow's pyramid and added to it, offering services to individuals, companies, schools, and governments to better understand culture and values. He combines Physiological and Safety needs in his "Survival" Category, maintains "Relationship" (Belonging) and "Self-Esteem", and takes self-actualization as a starting point for the "Transformation" towards higher goals of "Internal Cohesion", "Making a Difference", and "Service".

As with any culture model, it is important to remember every author is looking through their own cultural lens. It's always difficult if not impossible to take a neutral view of other cultures. What I like about this framework though, as well as e.g. Ken Wilber's Integral Theory, is that they are dynamic, not rigid. They allow for movement and development. In fact, they might shine a light and point out a path, challenging and encouraging us to do more and be better.

Barrett's Seven Levels of Consciousness also describe what can happen in situations of what he calls "excessive focus". That is when movement is denied and attention becomes too rigid. For example, for an individual working on Self-Esteem needs, it is helpful to engage in behaviors that foster confidence, competence, and self-reliance. These might include practicing vulnerability and setting effective boundaries. If focus becomes rigid, however, the need for self-esteem can turn us into power-hungry egomaniacs, only concerned with our status and authority, needing others to be less-than.

For an organization, it may help to have high performance systems and processes in place, particularly to attract and retain the best talent. If the approach is too rigid and centralized, not taking country-specific cultural differences into account, these same processes can soon turn into bureaucratic nightmares, effectively achieving the result they intend to avoid, namely confusion and complacency.

Where do you see yourself in this model, and where do you see your spouse, organization, or community? What can you do to align values and behaviors to reach the next level?



Introverted Feeling Fi (incl Bonus Values Exercise!)

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Just fyi, you can find me over at from now on, where I'm making custom lettering and calligraphy. 

This archive will be discontinued next month. 

Fi doodle
Fi doodle

You are using introverted Feeling or Fi when you're deciding whether you like or dislike something. When you're running something past your internal set of values. When you're calibrating your moral compass. Thinking about our vocalizing your sense of deeply held beliefs and universal truth.


People with a dominant Fi function cannot not operate from a sense of congruence. They may not force others to see the world in the same way, and theymay not speak up about something if it's not deemed worth it. But if it is, they may surprise you, and you will notice when you violate their values.

Expats using Fi to decide on an assignment may need time to feel through all the aspects and how they align with what is important to them. "Are you willing to accept a break in your career to support that of your partner? What difference is the international experience going to make to your life? Is it worth it?" It is helpful here to allow the necessary time to align universal themes like how the relocation process is supported or how the new country has been portrayed in the media lately, with individual values like "will I be able to express myself freely and authentically in the new country?"

If Fi is in a different positions in your type dynamics, below is an overview pieced together with only a few items taken from Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to the Personality Type Code, by Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi. Let me say this again to be very clear: the description of how Fi can be expressed in the different positions is not exhaustive and only meant to give you an overview. I would love to have you comment below how it shows up for you.

Introverted Feeling Fi
Introverted Feeling Fi

If you'd like to practice your Fi skills, do a values exercise to see what's important to you. Divise an action plan of how you can bring more of those values into your life through your thoughts and actions.

For example:

Out of the following list, select those values which according to your own definition of the word most accurately reflect what is important to you. If you don’t see your value on the list, please add it.












Financial Security




Inner Peace









Social Status






Note your Top 10 values in no particular order.











Using the numbers from the list above, compare each value to every other value. In each cell of the table below, circle the number of the value that feels more aligned with who you believe you are.


1. Harmony

2. Financial Security

3. Family

4. Autonomy

5. ...

Between Harmony and Financial Security, Harmony is more important - circle 1.

Between Harmony and Family, Family is more important - circle 3.

Between Harmony and Autonomy, Harmony is more important - circle 1 again.


Values Grid
Values Grid

Count the number of times each number is circled. The value with the highest number of circles is your top priority, subsequent lower numbers of circles represent values of subsequently lower importance.

This will give you your Top 10 values in order of your priority.

If any of your values have the same number of circles, go back to the grid and find the box where you compared them. The number you circles in that box is the higher ranking value.

Start with your top 3 or top 5 and ask yourself: how are your daily values reflecting your values? How aligned is your life with them? If family is coming out on top, how many times a week do you have dinner together? When was the last time you visited your parents?


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Values, Beliefs and Fears

Pic by Steve Rhodes

Today I want to take up an idea from the post The Perfect Myth and ask you again what your values and beliefs are. I remember the first time I was asked about my values and what order I would put them in, and it was the hardest thing - of course everything was equally as important, health, love, respect, freedom... but in the end I did come up with a list that made sense to me. Let's see if you have time today to do that excercise.

I believe that our actions are the result of our thoughts, our thoughts are the result of the beliefs we carry deep inside us, and those beliefs come from all over the place and should be sorted out according to their helpfulness.

These beliefs can be anything from "I can't do that, I'm too old", to "no, no, a woman shouldn't behave like that", to "hmm, I'd have to lose weight before I even try that". That's normal. We all have beliefs that ring true because they speak to us on a subconscious level: They are fed by our fears. But what those beliefs are doing is they are limiting us.
What things are you afraid of that hold you back from building the life you want? How do you feel about confronting those fears a little right now?Before we do, let me just say that not all fears are bad. Indeed, most of them are very helpful. They put your body on alert so you can run faster if you have to. They warn you by giving you tingly feelings about a dark alley so you won't even go down there. Having said that, the helpful fears we carry around with us have been the same our caveman-forefathers needed in order to survive. Some fears we have nowadays are not yet imprinted on our DNA because Mother Nature knows they're not as helpful, so let's take a minute and try to sort out which is which.Say you think you're too old to start over. Imagine you're stuck in a relationship you hate but you got used to it and think this is the cross you have to bear. Who says? Where does that come from? Where have you learned that it's ok to not take into account your feelings and act on them?There could be tons of reasons here, e.g. you were raised catholic ("divorce is a sin") or your father's favourite saying is, "our boys don't quit, quitting is for wimps". Those are the beliefs that you carry around with you, and they make you fear that you'll be cast out of your community or your dad might stop respecting you. You now have the choice to confront those beliefs and fears, welcome them in and talk to them, ask them what they're trying to do for you. And if you're not convinced, if you can find counter-arguments like, "well, but I'd like to be happy" then don't be afraid to change them. Make up new ones, your own, and live by them. And this is where the values come in.

Your values are linked to your conscience. You act against your values, you start feeling uncomfortable. Say one of your values is honesty, then staying in a relationship that's not working for you anymore is like torturing your soul every day, acting against its better judgement. Your beliefs will try to convince you that it's better to stick with things, that there's a grace to suffering and a reward will be waiting somewhere, but your values will disagree and in the end you might find yourself torn apart.

It's not easy to change beliefs, especially those you've grown up with and lived according to for all of your years. But it is possible.

Make yourself aware of what your values are.

Is it more important for you to be honest, or to be popular? To be healthy, or in a relationship? Find at least ten values and put them into an order, asking yourself if you had this one, could you live without the next one? If not, the latter goes up one spot, until you come to your number one value. Then ask yourself, how your life is reflecting those values. In what way are your beliefs holding those values up? You may find that you disagree with some things your church or your parents have told you, and that's ok. No reason to be alarmed. You're just taking over responsibility for what you believe.

Soon enough, you'll see that everything's possible, and that the only limits are the limits of your imagination.

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Mind the Gap between what you Think you want and what you Actually want


Mind the Gap between what you Think you want and what you Actually want

This one's inspired by one of Brené Brown's Daring Greatly read-alongs. It's about paying attention to the gap between your aspirational goals and actual behavior and values. Here are some strategies you can apply to various topics. 

1st Question: How do you want to feel?

If it's joyful, get clear on what makes you feel joyful. If it's abundant, get clear on when you feel abundant. If it's balanced, get clear on what makes you feel balanced.

How can you get clear?

Pay attention, write a list, align your values, and make the choice.

What are you doing when you're the happiest?

Be mindful when you're happy and figure out which choices got you there. Do they have to do with buying gadgets or spending quality time? Reading a book or going to a party? Might take a few months of observation and becoming aware, but it's well worth the effort.

What are you doing when you're the most generous?

What are you doing when you're feeling balanced?

Next step: assess if your values align with what brings you joy.

What level or importance are you allocating to the actions that go you to feel what you wanted to feel? How much of a distance or congruence is there between what you think makes you happy, what actually makes you happy, and what you do?

It's your choice.

Remember it's ok to work at it. It doesn't have to be perfect from Day 1. When you compare yourself to others, know that you are enough, no matter where you are. In fact, try to compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself, and acknowledge how far you've come. 

There was an episode in The Cosby Show where Denise wanted to be a teacher. She had a conversation with a teacher at their kitchen table, and it became clear that Denise hadn't really thought things through. She'd have to go back to school, study, get a degree, pay her dues, work for years before getting paid. I think it was Mercedes Ruehl who had the line, "people have to work really hard to make things look easy".

Don't let anybody fool you into thinking that it's all talent, or that what you want isn't worth working for.

Image by raghavvidya, Flickr, Creative Commons License.





I tried to walk home from the gym with my eyes closed today. Guess what? I didn't last more than a few steps! It got me to thinking about my senses and intuition and gut feeling though. Here's why:

Last night, a friend and I came to the conclusion that "there's always something". Be it in a relationship, or work, or nutrition, or health, or well? Life in general! There's always something, isn't there? Something to worry about, to think about, to fret and vent about, even to cry, scream, and shout about. Then what usually happens? Anxiety. Dis-ease. Discontent. Fear. Sadness. Some things even get blown out of proportion and take up huge amounts of space in our heads and energy in our systems. And what for?

I'm a big fan of the venting and sharing, going over details of whatever situation is making me feel bad, sad, or mad. I usually feel a little bit better afterward, because it's not all bottled up inside me anymore, I got somebody else's opinion - sharing and communicating is great! The question I came to earlier today on my "blind" walk though was, what if I trusted my senses to know where to step? What if I trusted my feelings to guide me? What if - and this is a kicker - I trusted my self to be able to survive and figure out what to do, or not to do, in any given situation? And you know what? I felt bit tingly, as if my cells were whispering excitedly "ooh, that could be interesting, yeah! Let's try that!" but at the same time, calmer.

I invite you this week to look at what's causing you stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and think about who you would be if you trusted yourself to know what to do. If you're not ready to address the cause of your pain, start with the symptoms. They can be crying for no apparent reason, overeating, procrastinating, fighting with your partner. What is it that your body and soul are already telling you that you're not hearing yet? Who told you that you can't trust yourself, where did you learn that your responses are wrong? Because, hey, what if they aren't?

Further thoughts: do you trust yourself more or less when you lose one of your senses? Can you trust yourself directly or do you go via a deity? Does having faith in yourself make you an atheist? Do you children trust themselves? How do you encourage or discourage them? Discuss!

Til next week, have a good one!


Image by Mukumbura, Flickr, Creative Commons License


What do you stand for?


What do you stand for?

This is just one of a number of images, or "wordles" I spent creating today. Aren't they fantastic? Thank you so much to Jonathan Feinberg and the people at for providing this excellent tool free of charge.

I don't consider myself a political person and a big part of me shies away from having too rigid opinions. First and foremost because I believe that everything changes constantly (changed circumstances means changed outcome), but also because I like flexibility and keeping my options open. Besides, I'm honest enough to admit that when it comes to politics I simply don't have the background knowledge to make any profound claims. Living in the United States at this particular point in time it's difficult to escape political talk though, and advertisements to register to vote, declare oneself and be counted are everywhere.

This got me to thinking in which ways we're communicating our values and beliefs every day in every aspect of our lives, not just in the political arena, by the decisions that we make. I stand for health and positive thinking by exercising, eating right, and writing down at least five things I'm grateful for every night before bed. This blog stands for empowering people to take responsibility of their own lives and finding the courage to change the behaviors that no longer serve and support them. My coaching approach is non-directive by asking questions that you yourselves find your own answers to, as I stand for thinking independently instead of following the herd like lemmings.

How are you communicating what you stand for? Which choices do you make every day that bring you closer to your goals, living out your values? Registering to vote and then going to the booth and casting your vote in November is only one way to announce to the world what you stand for. Living according to what is right every day ensures that you don't have to depend on politicians to behave the way you want them to, because you, too, are influencing your surroundings and creating this world with your example.

Addendum: Here's an article Seth Godin published on October 2nd about standing for something, and how making those difficult decisions can help your business.

PS: excerpt from the US Expatriate Handbook, Chapter 6:


Americans who reside abroad are usually eligible to vote by absentee ballot in all federal elections and may also be eligible to vote in many state and local US elections. Eligibility depends upon the laws and regulations of your state of residence in the US. To vote absentee, you must meet state voter registration requirements and apply for the ballot as early as possible from the state of your last domicile. Should your state ballot not arrive in sufficient time, you may be eligible to use a federal write-in ballot. You should consult the nearest US embassy or consulate for additional information.

Image by Kodak Views, Flickr, Creative Commons License.