The Season to Use Our Stage Seven Hooks Is Here

You are operating at Stage Seven—the highest stage to aspire to in the Stage Climbing model—in any area of your life when you are choosing to be benevolent and are truly motivated by the satisfaction you feel by making a contribution to the world outside of yourself. This can be one person, a group, society itself or anything in between. The Stage Seven club is always open to you. As you operate in the Seven zone, you will quickly discover that when the forces of gratitude and passion work together, practically anything is possible.

No matter what else is going on in your life, this holiday season may be the perfect time to experience the intrinsic rewards of this highest target stage.

Assuming Stage Seven intentions were what motivated you, here are some examples of ways you can use (or perhaps have used) your Stage Seven hooks to impact the world that’s bigger than you and leave it a better place:

  • Whenever you put the more pressing needs of your children, aging parents, or other family members or friends above your own, such as by caring for those in your life who may be sick or need some help financially―out of desire to help, of course, rather than obligation.
  • Anytime you give your time or money to a charitable endeavor without regard to what comes back to you in the way of praise, recognition, or any other benefits―tangible or intangible.
  • Putting your reputation on the line or postponing a goal of you own for another person, a mission or a cause greater than yourself―when it is unlikely that you will experience any direct benefits.
  • Any act of random kindness that is unlikely to result in so much as a “thank you” from whoever benefits.
  • Serving in the military or joining and working with a group that stands up for underdogs or the underprivileged as a means of making a difference.
  • Reporting a crime or blogging about an injustice you are aware of.
  • Being a whistleblower with potential consequences to yourself, in order to prevent a future injustice.

Think of some how you can enhance your life simply by focusing on new ways to contribute to the world beyond yourself. Most Sevens can attest to the paradox of happiness: By focusing on your own, you rarely achieve it in a lasting way; but by helping someone else— perhaps many others to find it, happiness and fulfillment come back to you almost effortlessly. Feel free to let us know about your experience with this paradox

What Is Happiness?

Happiness is the one goal that just about all of us has in common. However, the definition of happiness varies so much from person to person, that it can be hard to get a handle on. So as this holiday season unfolds, now is a good time to think about what happiness actually means to you. Let’s look at this by the stages:

  •  Stage One―Happiness is when life is easy with no demands or challenges to worry about (for example, having a reliable and dependable caretaker who is also a provider of all necessities).
  • Stage Two―It’s getting away with something or achieving dominance over people. On the positive side, it’s sheer joy and the lack of unwanted inhibition!
  • Stage Three―Examples include; living your life “properly” by staying within the black-and-white parameters of your world, not drawing any negative attention to yourself , fitting in and doing what you “should” as well as doing your part to cause others around you, to “toe the line” as well .
  • Stage Four―At this stage; achieving acceptance, approval, fame, and positive recognition (e.g., winning an award) as well as keeping personal relationships happy and conflict-free translate to happiness.
  • Stage Five―For Fives, keeping all roles and relationships in balance and without problems, being effective and not overwhelmed,  achieving affluence , finding a hobby and making time for pleasurable  activities as another important way to balance your life and “recharge your batteries” usually do it.
  • Stage Six―At this target stage, the satisfaction of reaching a difficult goal or solving a tough problem, the feelings of excitement and being unstoppable that come from peak performance , the feelings of relaxation and inner peace , the bliss associated with the little things encountered in everyday life;  such as the glow of a nice spring day, writing poetry, reading a good book or listening to your favorite music;  exploring novelty and whatever makes you curious, doing what you really want to be doing (e.g., what you are most passionate about, which often provides the most fun and enjoyment). Also, when the distinction between work and play disappears, being with those you love and feeling deeply connected to them. Unconditional self-acceptance can do it as well as when you can call up your playful and fun filled lower stage hooks at will in order to  connect with those feelings of innocence that result.
  • Stage Seven―Happiness for you here comes solely from the happiness you bring to others. Achieving the desired impact on a person/people/or segment of the world you most care about, helping others and seeing them reap the benefits of your efforts; and being fully connected to and engaged in your principles and purpose.

The thing to remember is that ultimately your happiness is firmly under your control. This holiday season and beyond, how can you apply the principle of managing the unique ingredients of what makes you happy to your life?

What is a Truly Mature Marriage or Love Relationship Anyway?

No matter where you are in your own personal development, the right relationship for you exists. The question is, what are you really looking for in a life partner and what— emotionally —do you have to give in return? A bit of self-reflection and mutual clarification here can go a long way toward spotting some potential red flags in your relationship as well as permanently raising the bar for both of you. And if you are still looking, let this help to guide you in finding the right spouse.

The Stage Climbing Solution breaks down many aspects of life by your stage of development. These stages identify your level of maturity (which increases at each higher stage) and represent the different lenses through which you view that part of your life. With that in mind, here is how spouses and partners typically relate to each other by the stages:

  • Stage One―The foundation of your relationship (and often the reason it even came to be) is principally security, dependency and neediness (e.g., emotionally and/or financially, etc.). Either or both of you may be preoccupied with “needing to be needed”. In the extreme, a partner who operates from this stage is sometimes experienced (and seen) by his or her partner as a “bottomless pit.”
  • Stage Two―Usually, one partner strongly dominates the other and/or uses the relationship as a vehicle to act out in a variety of ways. Deception and even abuse is often the substitute for intimacy. What is not real can be lied about. (For example, demanding that your partner be faithful while secretly you are not.)
  • Stage Three―Both the foundation and the climate for the relationship are grounded in dictums (often clichés or stereotypes) that are usually based on long-standing rules and traditions. In any case, they were not willfully chosen (e.g., how you met, your religious or ethnic backgrounds, who works, who stays home, the nature of your sex life, your policy on fidelity, etc.) . Disagreements often focus on who’s most compliant with whatever rules form the basis of your relationship. Whatever “book of rules” you abide by usually settles control issues and other conflicts as well.
  • Stage Four―You each look to your relationship and to each other as a sources of love, validation and approval. In fact, there is often an inordinate degree of jealousy and insecurity. Your emphasis is on being loved (receiving) and validated as opposed to loving (giving). Perhaps you typically try to please your partner as a way of getting back at least as much or more affection. For example, when you say, “I love you,” it can mean, “I want you to love me”, and sometimes or often, you find yourself obsessing about that.
  • Stage Five―You dutifully fulfill each other’s spouse/ relationship slot and all that it entails (e.g., sex partner, financial partner, tennis partner, companion, co-parent, someone with whom to share and be intimate, etc.). However, you are not necessarily governed by passion or a strong attachment that transcends your roles, in many areas of the relationship.
  • Stage Six―This is a relationship grounded in passion for each other and operates at a high level of maturity. You look to your partner as one to love and support as opposed to someone from whom love, sex, support, and validation are merely expected. There is genuine caring, intimacy, and respect that is not predicated on what you get back. When you tell your partner “I love you,” you mean just that.
  • Stage Seven―You are a team who selflessly works together in a common mission outside of yourselves (e.g., your children, your community, etc.). You can easily put your partner first and may even put your partner’s mission above your own without disdain or expecting a quid pro quo. Most importantly, at this highest level of maturity, you are beyond being attached to and/or governed by expectations or merely your own gratification.

In this crucial part of your life, what changes (for you or you and your partner) seem warranted? Of course, most relationships are a custom blend of at least several of the seven stages; and you can work together to make that blend one that provides you both an optimal degree of connection and fulfillment. There are few discussions the two of you can have, which could result in more long-term benefits if you are newlyweds, for example, than what kind of marriage do you really want

Don’t Let Breast Cancer Keep You From Reaching Your Highest Potential

October was a great month; we started seeing fall foliage, the temperature was mostly bearable, and it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We celebrated all those women [and men] who are courageous enough to fight the fight against breast cancer. You saw all your favorite sports teams strutting around in hot pink, your favorite brands and foods were covered in that pink ribbon we have become so familiar with, and every weekend there was a different walk or 5k to support our beloved women [and men] with breast cancer. The support is overwhelming. But most importantly, let’s remember not to confine our commitment to beating this disease to October!

Overwhelming is also a common word for those who have had breast cancer or who are fighting it now. You get that dreaded news from the doctor, your stomach drops, your heart starts beating extremely fast, and your mind is racing in a different direction every second: “Who is going to cook dinner when I’m gone?”, “I can fight this”, “Who is going to take care of grandma?”, What if I don’t survive?”

Most likely, you’re going to be getting information and advice from a million and one different people: friends, family, doctors, survivors… How do you categorize it all, how do you know what is good advice and what isn’t, how do you stay sane enough to fight this enormous battle you have ahead of you?

In addition, you may be at any of the seven stages depending on where you are in your life and your fight  against breast cancer:

Stage 1: You are fighting a battle that can’t be fought without the help of doctors and medications. You may need chemotherapy and radiation   in which case you’re going to have to rely on your friends and family members to drive you home and to take care of you afterwards.. You may be in a different default stage,  feel your independence is important to you. However during certain periods in your treatment, you may have to resort back to Stage One for your mental as well as physical well being . This is a healthy Stage One hook. In this stage you might also have anger and feel like a victim.

            Stage 2: You may  be in denial. You stop taking the medications doctors have prescribed, you’re not going to do chemotherapy or other treatments, and you are not in touch with, or care, how it might affect your family and friends. In that “perfect Stage Two world”, you could do what you wanted (get treatment/not get treatment) and still survive, in essence not having a consequence for your actions.

            Stage 3: It is expected of you to fight breast cancer, not just ignore it and let it run its course. Your family and friends need you to survive. It’s what you’re supposed to do, get chemotherapy, get hormone treatments, or get the surgery to remove a breast. All sounds quite scary, but it’s what you are supposed to do in this situation. On the other hand, you may be thinking that God is saying it is your time to go. In this situation, your Stage Three hook could even lead you to let the disease take its course, follow doctor’s orders, never do your own research  on alternative treatment or get second opinions.

            Stage 4: Your family wants you to fight, your boss needs you back in the office, and your friends would be disappointed in you if you gave up. You don’t want to disappoint anyone, you want them to love you and accept you. This is your motivation to fight—to be there for others.            

            Stage 5: It is your role to survive. You have to show your children you’re brave, fight because your husband or wife needs you, and who would bake your famous apple pie at the fall cook off next year? You have a good job; you get to go on good vacations with your family. You’re going to fight because you’re a mother/father, wife/husband, sister/brother, aunt/uncle… you wear too many hats not to fight. Moreover, you’re life is pretty good, why give up now?

            Stage 6: You truly embrace your breast cancer. You have it; you’ve accepted it, now, you’re going to deal with it. Either you choose to fight or you let the disease take it’s course and do what it will to your body. If you fight, then this means you will be seeing doctors, you will have a support team that includes, friends, family, doctors, nurses… You have a genuine appreciation for what they are doing for you and you understand and accept it. On the other hand, you may research alternative treatments or be internally motivated to change your life style to help survival. Either way, you embrace every moment you have with your friends and family and take pleasure in relationships you may have taken for granted in the past. You value each moment in your life even more. You have a sense of peace about you that people are in awe of.

You carry that sense of peace if you choose not to fight as well. You have lived a tremendous life and did what you wanted to do. You wake up every morning with a certain pep in your step. Now you’ve accepted this disease that has been handed to you. You are going to enjoy the time you have with your family and friends; make every moment count. You would love to survive, but you have no regrets if you do not.

            Stage 7: You have a story to tell and you’re going to tell it. Whether you are a survivor, still fighting, or;  you are involved in the cause beyond yourself  (i.e. once you finish treatment; help others,  help raise money for research,  or start  a charity that goes on even if you are not here) you have a story to tell. You don’t tell your story only because it makes you look strong that you survived or loving because you were there for someone else. You tell the story because you know it’s empowering and it will help many others with their own   breast cancer struggles.

I hope this can give you some perspective in helping you recognize, and then reach, your highest potential in dealing with your fight of breast cancer that has affected your life.

For more information about breast cancer, please visit http://www.nbcam.org/index.cfm

How you Feel about Yourself In Connection With an Area of Life Is Often the Best Litmus Test

There are many definitions of happiness and success as they apply to your career, relationships and other important areas of your life. Let’s look at this by the stages:

  •     Stage One―When life is easy with no demands or challenges to worry about … Having a reliable and dependable caretaker who is also a provider of all necessities.
  •     Stage Two―Getting away with something … Achieving dominance over people … On the positive side, it’s sheer joy and the lack of unwanted inhibition.
  •      Stage Three―Living your life “properly” by staying within the black-and-white parameters of your world … Not drawing any negative attention to yourself … Fitting in and doing what you “should” as well as doing your part to cause others around you, to “toe the line” as well … The belief  that your religious or spiritual path, and yours alone, is most in tune with the divine.
  •     Stage Four―Achieving acceptance, approval, fame, and positive recognition (e.g., winning an award) … Keeping personal relationships happy and conflict-free.
  •   Stage Five―Keeping all roles and relationships in balance and without problems …  Being effective and not overwhelmed …  Achieving affluence … Finding a hobby and making time for pleasurable  activities as another important way to balance your life and “recharge your batteries” ( “pleasurable activities” are those that provide fun and a “healthy alternative” to work and chores).
  •     Stage Six―The satisfaction of reaching a difficult goal or solving a tough problem… The feelings of excitement and being unstoppable that come from peak performance … Feelings of relaxation and inner peace … The bliss associated with the little things encountered in everyday life, such as the glow of a nice spring day, writing poetry, reading a good book or listening to your favorite music … Exploring novelty and whatever makes you curious … Doing what you really want to be doing (e.g., what you are most passionate about, which often provides the most fun and enjoyment) … When the distinction between work and play disappears … Being with those you love and feeling deeply connected to them … Unconditional self-acceptance … When you can call up your playful and fun lower stage hooks at will, connect with those feelings of innocence that result and let yourself enjoy being child-like…  Anything that connects you with your best feelings about yourself. This the ingredient that the best friendships, love relationships, missions, avocations and spiritual connections have in common.     
  •     Stage Seven―Achieving the desired impact on a person/people/or segment of the world you most care about … Helping others and seeing them reap the benefits of your efforts … Being fully connected to and engaged in your principles and purpose.  At some point, Stage Six endeavors fall short in the category of your most private feelings of self-perception. This is a great indication that you are ripe for an organic ascent to Stage Seven in a given area of life. 

What makes your stage climb so empowering is knowing that the target stages which put your happiness and success firmly under your control are yours for the taking, if you can remember to use that litmus test of what triggers in you the best feelings about yourself—not your job, the other person or anything else external. This source of information is available to you in the privacy of your own mind, 24 hours a day. That’s the best news of all!

Understanding Our Politicians by the Stages

We used to talk about political seasons; but it seems now as though the political season never ends! So let’s take a non-partisan look at the players who—for better or worse— make this possible. After all, we are only one week away from an off-year general election and a year away from the one that may be the most important election of our lifetime.

Politicians present us with one of the best examples of “stage diversity”. Most of us who follow politics could name at least one national or local politician (past or present) that they associate with each of the seven stages. Moreover, most politicians have career-related hooks in nearly all of the stages. Love them or hate them, that’s what makes politicians such compelling figures. So use this “handy guide” as a way of recognizing what drives the ones you are thinking about; and, most importantly, be open to using it as a factor in making your decision.

Here’s a look at what drives politicians by the stages:

  • Stage Seven―Would not concern himself/herself with being re-elected, being popular, or being anything for that matter … It’s only the cause(s) that they seek or are in office to take on and the problems they hear a calling to resolve, for the good of their constituency (and beyond) that’s important to them … Has no hidden agendas … Says and believes the same things in private as in public … Is humbled by the sense of duty that comes with their position and the opportunity to serve … Cares about and is focused on the world he/she leaves behind.
  • Stage Six―Loves public policy and focuses on doing the work exceptionally well that each aspect of it requires … May even truly enjoy the challenge of an election campaign and the opportunity to inspire others by getting out their message.
  • Stage Five―It’s a job that provides power, contacts, and perhaps a social circle that he or she may otherwise have no access to, but is not yet a calling. Thus, it’s still about them, not the people they serve.
  • Stage Four―The most gratifying part of the job is the prestige that comes with it … Being liked and admired by constituents and others who are impressed by the office held … Stage Four politicians are governed by polls and often obsessed with their own popularity or lack thereof … They will tend to see their role and position as more of an honor (being in office) than a duty (to deliver on promises, for example).
  • Stage Three―They see themselves as ruling rather than serving their constituencies. In extreme cases, they would have no problem even supporting the principles of an authoritarian or totalitarian dictatorship, were they in that kind of system or society … In addition, extreme left- and right-wingers, for example, and their often staunch and toady-like―sometimes idol worshipping―followers who never go beyond ideological dictums to carve out positions, are generally operating out of Stage Three. Talking points are considered sacred and never to be challenged.
  • Stage Two―A politician who is out for whatever he or she can get away with and/or steal in the way of money, power, and favors … Uses charisma to deceive … Will say or do anything necessary to get into office and hold on to power, often through deception and demagoguery.
  • Stage One―To the extent that an opportunity for a One in this field exists, it would be a very low-level situation in which  the government is seen as an undemanding and unlimited resource to fulfill personal and security needs (for example, patronage and “no-show” jobs they consider “entitled to”).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the people we elected to serve us were operating out of Stages Six and Seven? Right now, that seems like a pipe dream; but let’s hope the pendulum starts swinging in the right direction.  I will have a lot more to say about this, as the big election gets closer.