Sleepy - Photo by Matheus Farias on Unsplash
Photo by Matheus Farias on Unsplash || CC0

Reader alert: this piece will be of little interest to those outside the Spiral Dynamics [SD] community. An economy of words might better render: “This piece will likely be of no interest.” 



Yellow 1 - Photo by James Lee on Unsplash


I asked around 

I’ve asked the Graves/SD conversation partners that I am connected with if there were any legacy SD uses of the term jaundiced. It only makes sense it would show up somewhere as the color assigned to signify the seventh level in the SD model is yellow. Apparently no noted history on such an application to SD.

We recall, the seventh level of the Graves/SD model also has another very significant distinction. The Yellow [AN] values attractor (vMEME) represents what Graves called the “momentous leap.” Graves said this sixth to seventh level transcendence represents the move from the first six ‘existence‘ levels to the second six ‘being‘ levels. From becoming to being. I’ve always found it fascinating how that seems to reflect the crowning  theological/philosophical debate of the twentieth century. Alfred N. Whitehead, and ‘process’ philosophy (becoming) from early in the century, in tension with Paul Tillich and ‘existentialist’ theology (being) from the mid-century. I note that from a mystical view, becoming and being are not-two.

Candidly, in the past 105 blog posts in this series, I doubt I have mentioned the highly-prized “second tier” more than once or twice. I’m neither enamored by its apparent allure nor impressed by most of those who claim its attainment. I’ve suggested the ‘leap to second tier’ visualization is misleading and I’ve offered a post on it ~ “Visual correction”…


mobius meme final edit


btw…It probably never hurts for me to reiterate that as helpful as I find Graves and the SD model, even with my strong recommendation for others to engage with it, I still hold all this rather loosely. It’s social science with ‘science’ being more like pattern recognition. In no way do I regard SD as a math-like calculus.


Jaundiced meme

A bone to pick I have

I write this piece because of late I’ve encountered more and more of what I’d like to call jaundiced Orange [ER]. By this, first, I mean an expression driven by very bright (hyper) rational discourse that is complex and nuanced. This sophisticated expression seems to indicate “second tier” values at work in the person. Second, I say ‘jaundiced because, as complex and second tier as it may appear (so yellow), it is missing a crucially important factor—Green [FS] is completely absent. Recall, Green is the values attractor that recognizes and includes our humanness within its purview. FS seeks to include all the stories (people) within the concern and care of the (beloved) community. Further, it extends this concern and care to include the stories of all the different aspects of the miraculous ecosystem we call Earth. I see healthy Green as the empathetic ‘heart’ of Graves spiral.

Clare Graves was very clear on this, we do not skip levels. Rationality and abstraction are ER. I humbly suggest that while some people, and their sophisticated argumentation, might seem to indicate “second tier” animation, if there is no evidence of Green (if there’s no sensitivity to humans/humanness) in the expression, then it’s really only jaundiced Orange being projected onto second tier.


Green [FS] (adds and) exhibits humanness and an openness/sensitivity to all humans (and all living things). So, given there is no skipping, I am proposing a Spiral Dynamics axiom:

Self-evident humanness is a second tier shibboleth.


eye- Image by JL G


An illustration of Green vs pre-Green

People aren’t one color (or ‘one note’) of values. Rather, we are admixtures of values attractors. Think of a musical ‘chord’ composed of two or more notes.

In the Discovery Channel program, Dual Survival, we find what may be one of the clearest compare/contrast examples available for how two men’s thinking/behaviors were each effected by their own personal values chord. The TV show, obviously, vectors the action/plot through a Beige [AN] (survival) values attractor scenario. It tests the pair for how they harness their higher order values in order to conquer the Beige survival problem they’ve been presented.

A regularly featured survivalist pair was Joseph Teti and Cody Lundin. Both men shared strong Orange [ER] as a key working component in their values constellations (chord). The distinction, and it is very clear, is that Cody is animated chiefly by Green [FS] values while Joe is chiefly animated by Red [CP]/Blue [DQ] values. The show revealed many of the strengths and difficulties that can arise when these two values systems constellations work together on a superordinate goal.


For those on TheFacebook, the illustration/application of this “Jaundiced?” post is a post I made to a facebook SD group: A place to defecate?

[this post approx. 825 words (3 min. read)]

Your thoughts?

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: I’m using a serial-approach to introduce SD. Blog introduction (June 30, 2018). First in series (July 1, 2018).


SD Worldview Color Key

Sleepy - Photo by Matheus Farias on Unsplash

4 thoughts on ““Jaundiced?”

  1. Right on ❣️ I am no longer inspired by many of the original SD group (not including Clair Graves and Don’t Beck). They lost an opportunity to bring in newer, younger, interested people, however their red/ orange criticism of people just coming to learn an evolving, embracing theory turned many away. Such a waste of potential to teach a new generation of open hearts and minds. Jon Friedman has tried to help. Like you said you can’t skip green.

    BTW Jon’s book is an excellent book 📖 to review for new readers coming in to greater awareness 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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