How to motivate tier 1 humans to develop towards tier 2


Hi all, probably nothing new here, but it seems to me that if us humans are going to survive as a species - we need as many of us as possible to move from tier 1 to tier 2 altitude of development. But I have been wondering and I am curious to hear what you all think: How do we get those at tier 1 to listen, to start the journey to tier 2. I think once humans are at tier 2, they are more intrinsically motivated to push forward. But - at tier 1 - I am not so sure. Happy to get any views on what I just said.


Hi @gary.niemen, that is basically the perennial integral question, right here :slight_smile:

So I think the short and frustrating answer is, there’s not much we can do to accelerate this kind of vertical social transformation, other than creating and participating with platforms like these, adding your own voice to the larger integral discourse, and using your own life as a sort of attractor point for others.

The longer and maybe more hopeful answer is, we need to try to find ways for integral to actually identify and engage with problems that can ONLY be solved by integral thinking. The good news is, we seem to have no shortage of these problems today, which is why we recently launched the Institute of Applied Metatheory in order to identify these social leverage points, where a small amount of effort can produce big changes, and then create an entire series of initiatives in order to try to pull those levers. This is something we are just beginning to get off the ground, so stay tuned.

And to make the longer answer even longer, we should also recognize that there is a tension here — because on the one hand, our goal is not to “pull people” up the developmental ladder, but rather to create healthy conditions so that people can grow and develop at their own pace. Like Ken says, “at any point in history the political ideal is to let each stage be itself, and govern from the highest reasonably available at any given time.”

But on the other hand, in order to “govern from the highest” stage available to us — which is now the integral stage — we need enough people to actually be operating at those stages. What’s more, those people need to be in positions that can exert real influence on the ongoing self-organization of our society.

We often hear things like “the Renaissance was participated in by only 1000 people” — however, we have to keep in mind that those 1000 people were some of the most well-resourced and influential people of their time, which is how so few people could have such an enormous impact on their surrounding culture and society.

So I think there is no universal answer to your question, as the answer may be as unique as each of our unique kosmic addresses, our unique spheres of influence, and our unique networks of relationship in the world. Personally, my greatest hope is that the work we are doing here at Integral Life can help attract and educate some of these future movers and shakers, who will then go on to exert their influence in the world and help guide our still-adolescent society toward deeper, more sustainable stages of social self-organization.

Which is why I often tell people, if you have any interest at all in these ideas, and if you’ve ever wanted to run for political office or lead any kind of transformative endeavor… PLEASE DO! This is an inside-out revolution, which means it is one that will emerge through us, not around us.


Such an excellent answer to my question. Totally agree. I kind of wanted to check my thinking, which was more like a blob (of thought) - that you put into words. Thank you so much.


Good question! Been focusing a lot of energy on that exact problem. This is just a spit-ball answer - hoping better, more informed ideas are lurking …

To me the Gebserian notion of integral as a “mutation” to a new type of consciousness makes sense. For Gebser, integral is “aperspectival”, effectively adding a new dimension of consciousness. Also, “aperspectival” reflects a spherical metaphor, meaning the Gebersian integral perspective has access to the prior perspectives of archaic, magic, mythic, and mental. Wilber’s Integral Theory says essentially the same thing for the transition to teal and second tier. It’s just that the IT model makes moving from green to teal look like kind of a routine leveling up, whereas the Gebser treatment of this transition underlines the dramatic, paradigm-breaking nature of newly reflexive consciousness at what IT calls second tier. There may well be a good explanation somewhere in Ken Wilber’s massive corpus of writing as to why second tier suddenly has freedom to sample previous tiers, but I am not aware of the underlying mechanism for that transition. The Gebserian version - based specifically on increased dimensionality of consciousness (somewhat comparable to Einsteinian relativistic space-time vs the prior Newtonian view), suggests what is so powerful about second tier.

Now … as to the question of what motivates such a dramatic change …


I think if we momentarily for the purpose of discussion forgot about the (convenient and academically meaningful) dividing line of “second tier,” we indeed can simply think of the Wilber-identified integral stage as just another (natural but limitedly undertaken, therefore seemingly dramatic) step in development, of which many processes of consciousness play a part, reflective processes being one of them. While earlier stages of development than integral can also be reflective, the reflexion is less whole, e.g. maybe reflection on the singular, but not the plural, on the exteriors but not the interiors, or some such partial combination. Yes, this is Wilber’s 4 quadrants, which to me is cornerstone of the integral stage, and reflexion that doesn’t include both the inner and outer, the individual and collective is thinking in parts, not thinking in wholes, and is less than integral per se, but this inclusiveness of all four quadrants, while seemingly a “leap,” is also a natural progression, it seems to me. One has the freedom to sample previous tiers because “been there, done that” (transcending and including). And it seems that the elements, and there are so many of them, that determine whether or not development occurs is also a 4-quadrant affair.

As for the perspectivism of the integral stage, it seems to be an “everything and nothing” kind of situation, which makes sense if development is indeed headed towards Wholeness, the Whole/All.


Thanks both for your input into this question.
I have another question or two brewing now.
I will start new threads for those.


@gary.niemen. I wanted to frame a clever answer to your original question, but instead I ran into a source that encompasses all my better ideas and adds quite a few more:

The extract below appears to be a roadmap to 1st-tier-to-2nd-tier transition. I believe the solutions proposed by @corey-devos and @LaWanna can be found among the options, along with some other very interesting ideas …

"3.8. How to promote vertical development

If one cannot teach vertical development, one can at least
promote it. As I see it, there are several ways:

• The slow and hard way: life experience.

• The somewhat faster, self-focused, and expensive way: combine the life experience with a good coach or mentor.

• The also somewhat faster, multi-dimensional, and more interesting way, which also makes one a more interesting person with something to talk about: the arts combined with good teachers.

• The cheap and relatively fast, multi-dimensional way, which will also make one a more interesting person with something to talk about: library books and self-organised study circles around great literature, particularly existential philosophy, which is about life choices.

• The cheap, hard, useful, and other-focused way, which will also make one a more interesting person with something to talk about: political activism and volunteer work.

• The fruitful and hard way: learn another language, study the culture and travel there.

  • Fast track: get out of your comfort zone. For instance:

    • Get a child and raise a family.
    • Move to another country.
    • Skip your job and change your profession.
  • The add-on that always works: engage with somebody who views the world differently from you, listen to them, have deep, respectful conversations and try seeing the world from their perspective. Engage with unlike-minded people.

  • Folk-bildung and ALE (Adult Learning & Education) that challenge your worldview.

  • Any combination of the above."


It’s a great list. Thanks for sharing.
I just wonder what is the “hook” for those at Tier 1 that are not interested or can’t see the value or don’t even think it is possible to grow/change.
Well - perhaps there is no need to be concerned with that. I think Wilber says we only need to get to 10% of the population.


Yes, definitely. And even this idea is being semi-institutionalized in some parts of the world. I just read that Denmark has a “Human Library” where one can check out not a book, but a person for conversation, with the person coming with a title: “unemployed,” “refugee,” etc. Towards promoting taking the perspective of ‘other.’


Hi @gary.niemen - regarding the “hook” …

It’s a common insight from developmental psychology that people don’t level up to a new form of consciousness because everything is going great at their current level. Rather, there is a growing feeling that things are not quite right, things that used to work don’t work any more, contradictions are cropping up more and more, something seems missing … The old system has to show cracks for the new system to break through. There can be associated depression, loss of meaning, “dark night” experiences. Old certainties must give way to doubt. It’s not usually a fun and enjoyable process.

On a deeper level, what motivates human evolution in general? Pick your theology/metaphysics/ontology. Spirit, Consciousness, Eros, the Ever Present Origin - all good words. All inadequate to capture the raging turbulence of being-becoming.


There is an innate drive in Humans to expand, improve and so on.

I think in order to answer this question for others we first have to answer it for ourselves, without any delusions that we are “higher” than we actually are. If there is a delusion that this is a problem to address for the benefit of others or the unwashed masses and not for ourselves I think that is probably the first order of business. Get one’s own house in order first, and so the question has to be directed inwardly and when the solution has been found inward, the outward will naturally follow.

If one is truly living a second tier life, people will see it and naturally have that innate human sense of FOMO and want it and want to know how they can get it. If people are not asking us with a slight tone of awe how we get our perspectives and how we are able to handle things they struggle with - well, maybe we are not living a second tier life after all.

I get these inquiries occasionally, but the fact that I only get them from a few select people who I judge are in Green - this tells me I have not integrated Orange and below and only partially Green. I judge that if I was fully Integral, I would have everyone I pass every day feeling that they want what I have.

Modern humans are familiar with the “Get ahead of the Joneses”. For humans at modern tier you don’t have to “motivate” them from Red to Orange. They see the clear benefits of it. Similarly, Healthy Green Tier Communities (as opposed to dysfunctional or shadow green) have humans that are currently Orange lining up for their workshops and programs, willing to pay $8,000 for a weekend.

A truly Integral offering will have people lining up around the block to get access to it. But only if it is actually integral. If it’s not quite there - or has some kind of shadow or dysfunction (like trying to elevate others before we elevate ourselves) - nobody’s going to buy those tickets.