Motivation is Never a “One Size Fits All” Process

Whenever I speak on the topic of motivation or coach managers on how to motivate subordinates, I emphasize what I consider the most important, yet overlooked fact: That motivation is never a “one size fits all” process. Whether you are simply trying to nail down what motivates you or how to motivate someone else in order to be maximally effective, it’s crucial to understand and acknowledge the stage from which you (or whomever you wish to motivate) are starting.

In most cases, Stages Six and Seven appear quite appealing. However, remember that it’s still also okay to strive for those “lower-stage” or external motivators such as money and awards. Then Stages Six and Seven (even if they are not your prime motivators) can offer the bonuses of personal satisfaction, enjoying what you do, and making a contribution to something larger than yourself.

That said, here’s what motivates you by the stages:

  • Stage Seven―The opportunity to serve one person or many others your larger community and/or the environment in a cause or mission you believe in … To solve a problem that has an impact on people or things that are larger than you and your inner circle … The satisfaction of touching one life (as a parent, for example) or bettering many lives.
  • Stage Six―The feeling of satisfaction that comes when doing what you love and were meant to do as dictated by your unique talents at the deepest level … Meeting a challenge … Performing optimally with passion and ease as opposed to effort and difficulty … Anything that triggers feelings of bliss … The opportunity to be genuinely creative … Feeling the best about yourself … “If you aren’t having fun doing it, either you’re not doing it right or it’s not the right thing for you to be doing.”
  • Stage Five―Money, benefits, privileges, respect from others for specific aspects of your life (or a specific role you play such as a manager) and how you handle your roles and responsibilities … The need to have all chores and obligations under control.
  • Stage Four―Awards, celebrity, prestige, validation, praise, love, recognition, and approval of you (most often in a global way as opposed to merely a specific area of life such as with Stage Five) … The opportunity to impress friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and relatives (or the public, in the case of celebrities).
  • Stage Three―Not making waves, by doing whatever is expected of you and staying on the good side of whomever or whatever you consider an authority to be obeyed … Your power to rule others.
  • Stage Two―Opportunities to lure people in and/or reap rewards without paying the necessary dues or playing on a level field … Being irresponsible without consequences.
  • Stage One―Whatever feels easiest, safest, least threatening and most comfortable.


By keeping the seven stages in mind and remembering that they all are choices available to us in any aspect of life, motivating yourself or someone else can be a much more straightforward undertaking.

My Plight

It was my 24th birthday, a day that should have been a day filled with elation.
However, I was displeased and angry, angry with myself. I guess you could say I was
having a quarter-life crisis. It had been 24 years since I made my entrance into the world
and what did I have to show for it?

Sure I received a great education and was continuing in graduate school. My
relationship with my girlfriend, family, and friends were all filled with love and support.
My job was enriching yet still challenging and I had hobbies and interests galore. And yet
this sense of discontent had washed over me and left a film of complacency that I could
not get off.

Papers and readings were piling up and being put off to the very last minute.
Work was becoming… well work and hobbies, what hobbies? The worse part was that I
was neglecting the people who meant the most to me. Each aspect of my life was taking a
toll on the next and I was left battered and unmotivated.
Life’s many demands had a firm grasp on me and had left me feeling like I would
never catch up. I was surviving instead of thriving. I was left thinking, if this was how
life is supposed to be?


Enter Stage Climbing

So on this same day that was filled with resentment and ice cream cake, I
answered a request for a volunteer opportunity with Dr. Michael Broder, on his new self-
help book, Stage Climbing. It was going to be tough to juggle another role but besides
being a masochist, I knew I could learn a lot from this experience and Dr. Broder.
However, I did not know it would be life changing.

My first assignment was to read Stage Climbing and to see how it “spoke” to me.
I immediately dove into the book, reading whenever I had some free time, which
incredibly started to become much more frequent. Each stage brought a heightened
awareness to my own hooks, or issues that were holding me back. With this new insight
into my habits and behaviors that were holding me back, I was able to modify and change
them with the help of this book.

Since then I have been able to optimize all aspects of my life an essentially thrive
at a higher level. Stage Climbing has also opened new doors and great opportunities that
I would have never pursued. What is especially exciting is the change in my mindset. I
know longer feel like I am merely surviving. I relish in tackling every new experience
and opportunity that comes my way.

The things that make me happy and fulfilled are the foundation of each and
everyday. This is not to say that I quit doing the things that were dragging me down.
Instead, I learned how to be better at them, which has opened up more opportunities
to follow my passions such as writing. Most importantly this experience has made my
life “comfortably uncomfortable.” Confused? Lets take a look at this concept and see
how it can help you optimize your life.


Comfortably Uncomfortable

How many of you instantly felt like I was describing your chaotic life above?
Truth is we all struggle with some aspect of our life to a degree. Instead of listing some
common plights we face, I would like you to think of an issue that you are facing now.
Got it? Now think about what you have done to improve or change it. You might have
attempted to correct it and even succeeded at it but the effect did not last. Or maybe you
have not gotten around to addressing the problem yet. We all lie somewhere on this

The problem is we have grown comfortable with this level of functioning. My
life was overwhelming and I constantly depended on others to help me. Yet I was fine
with it for a long time. Comfortable is synonymous to complacency and complacency
is one ugly beast. What freed me from this beast was to do things that would make life
uncomfortable. It was as simple as doing things that I would put off or avoid. I would
wake up earlier to get work done, exercise, and even wash my dishes, the bane of my life.
It was a reminder that I was still living and not merely existing.

Sure it was tough at first but consistency and action breed mastery. Even more
profound is that these little successes produce a snowball effect that can tip the scales
in the favor of change and make them much more attainable. I believe that to make
progress you need to be a little uncomfortable in life. So in essence being comfortably
uncomfortable implies making a habit of constantly challenging yourself and seeking out
opportunities and experiences that will lead to lasting fulfillment.


Your Turn

Stage Climbing has been an invaluable tool in my journey to be the person that I
have always knew I could be and attain the life that I have always wanted. If you haven’t
yet take a few minutes some time today and imagine what that would look like for you.
What are the things that will make your life more fulfilling? What does the real you look
like? Got a picture in your head? Good. Now the only question left is:
Are you up for the challenge?

How do you plan to use Stage Climbing to achieve the life that you want? Let us know
in the comments below. We look forward to watching you grow and reach your highest

Frank LoRiggio, Guest blogger for

Steve Jobs, the Ultimate Stage Six Role Model

Steve Jobs, the Ultimate Stage Six Role Model

In the last week, we’ve all been hearing a lot about Steve Jobs, and how passionately he pursued everything he did. Although I have several Apple products, I never thought much about Steve jobs, until recently, although I wish I had, because he was a far more fascinating character than I had ever realized. He teaches us many things, but most importantly how to instinctually run your engine on passion and how to let your unique passions take you to the place where you can accomplish great things.

He wasn’t passionate about college, so rather than stay because he “should” (Stage Three) or to please his parents (Stage Four), he dropped out and pursued a “crazy idea” he had that eventually led all of us to have a computer (Stage Six), not to mention an IPod and/or I pad, and everything else you may need to take your entire music library anyplace you go.

I’ll leave it to others to write about how the passion-fueled path to his highest potential led him to revolutionize several industries. He couldn’t always control the outcome—none of us can—but he knew he could control the effort he put out and the commitment he brought to whatever he set out to accomplish. The good news is that there’s a Steve Jobs in every one of us. Making an iron clad commitment to discover and live out that natural part of yourself is what Stage Climbing is all about.

According to Gallup, up to 80% of us don’t like what we do career wise. (I was there once, myself in my first career when I was an accountant, but more about that another time.) You owe it to yourself to love what you do and be deeply and firmly committed to it, as Steve Jobs was. In my long career as a psychologist who has worked with many people, including some of our highest achievers, I have yet to find a person who could not find and live in that zone, if only they persisted.

Steve Jobs mission was far from complete when his life ended. Had he lived, he would have seen to it that more world changing innovations came our way. Then we would have heard more about his Stage Seven contributions to the world. We lost a giant last week! And we would all do well by honoring him and following his example

First Post Welcome Overview

Welcome to the first blog post! It is my intention to post something here every Tuesday and Thursday. I welcome your comments and suggestions as to how this section can be most helpful to you. If you would like to contribute a blog of your own on any topic related to Stage Climbing and/or its mission, which is to help you reach your highest potential in any area of your life, please email me personally:

I thought I’d make this first blog about the stages that I will be referring to often in future blogs. They form the foundation of Stage Climbing.

The seven stages outlined below, represent a choice of seven lenses that are available to you, through which you can view any aspect of your life, such as; How you operate in your relationships or career, how you view spirituality, how you parent, what motivates you or how you relate to virtually anything. Knowing the stages at which you are operating in any part of your life provides you with a benchmark in your Stage Climbing process. How you are living your life then becomes much clearer to you. The stages can also provide you with helpful insights for understanding or resolving an issue—past, present, or future. Begin by identifying your present stage —the stage you most identify with right now in any area of life you would like to focus on. Once you are clear as to where you are now (your present stage) and where you would like to be (your target stage), the only task that remains is to clarify what you need to do to be operating out of your chosen target stage for that part of your life. That will be much of our focus here, as well as applying the principles of Stage Climbing to the issues and personalities of the day. It’s most likely that you normally operate out of different life stages in different areas of your life. Most of us do. So as you explore the seven stages and calibrate where you are now versus where you want to be, consider one area of your life that you wish to understand better or improve upon in some way. It might be your relationship, career, finances, spiritual life, you as a parent or boss, etc. Start with the stage you most identify with now – then indentify the stage where you most want to be operating:

Stage One

Only possible stage during infancy; later can potentially render one profoundly dependent upon others and result in feelings of inadequacy and victimhood.

Stage Two

Typical stage for toddlers; thereafter, a life without internalized limits can result in primitive and undisciplined behavior, extreme self-centeredness, the tendency to act out and create much chaos for yourself and others.

Stage Three

Usual stage through late childhood; thereafter can morph into various degrees of an authoritarian personality and/or rigid rule abider who is extremely inflexible regarding rules and ideas.

Stage Four

Typical stage throughout adolescence; as an adult, can result in anxiety, depression, self-doubt, alienation, shame, and a wide variety of neurotic and approval-seeking behaviors.

Stage Five

Typical stage for an adult in our society, where you often think of yourself as a role juggler, or the sum of all your life roles. Your characteristic view of life at this stage is often comfortable, dispassionate, or neutral. This stage offers the ideal attitudes and frame of mind to function best, while doing what is merely necessary to keep your life together and functioning in order to live in the higher stages. While a Stage Five frame of mind is important to have at times with respect to certain relationships and activities, it often results in disappointment when you expect higher degrees of fulfillment than this stage can deliver.
Stages Six and Seven are the target stages that most people aspire to. As you understand Stages Six and Seven, it will become clear that by removing anything that blocks that natural drive to be your best, you will quickly get to the zone in which you can naturally and effortlessly operate at your highest potential. Most people view life at the target stages as life at its very best. It is at the target stages that you feel the very best about yourself. The target stages represent what you are here for, or from a spiritual perspective, your life’s purpose.

Stage Six

Mature adult (determined not by chronological age but by the way you conduct your life) with a strong integrity and sense of self. At Stage Six, you rise above your roles; and operate according to your own unique internally generated values and passions. To the extent that these become your driving forces; genuine spirituality, fulfillment, and happiness result. This is the stage in which you love, enjoy, excel, and create in your own distinctive way.

Stage Seven

The highest stage attainable. You are beyond needing self-gratification, and find fulfillment as a result of your benevolence and your unique contribution to others, to the world, and to how you can be an agent of change in some large or small way. At
Stage Seven, your purpose outside of yourself has more importance to you than what is purely in your own self-interest.
In the privacy of your own mind, ask yourself if there’s a part of your life where you would like to be operating at a higher stage. Then know that with some persistence, that could be your reality very soon. On Thursday, I’ll talk about Steve Jobs and the Steve Jobs in you!