Have you ever wondered what sets apart great people from not-so-great people?

What developmental psychologists have found is that the difference between great people (people we admire) and no-so-great people (people we don’t necessarily admire) is how cognitively and emotionally sophisticated they are.

Unfortunately, most people do not yet understand the concept of “cognitive and emotional sophistication.” So, I want to help this concept come alive to you, and I believe I have a great video to demonstrate this.

Vertical Development

When someone enhances their cognitive and emotional sophistication, this is called vertical development. They are elevating their ability to make meaning of their world in more mature and complex ways.

For example, consider how people make meaning of constructive criticism:

  • Less vertically developed: Constructive criticism feels like and attack and so I will get defensive
  • More vertically developed: Constructive criticism is an opportunity to learn and grow and so I will embrace it instead of reject it

Vertical Development Levels

Developmental psychologists have found that there are three different levels of vertical development. I call these Mind 1.0, Mind 2.0, and Mind 3.0, because they are representative of our internal operating system.

At each level, we are internally programmed to fulfill different needs:

  • Mind 1.0: Safety, comfort, and belonging (i.e., standing in)
  • Mind 2.0: Advancing, winning, and/or getting ahead (i.e., standing out)
  • Mind 3.0: contributing, adding value, and lifting

Also, developmental psychologists have found the following statistics about where people generally operate:

Vertical Development Example 1

Example of Vertical Development: Lioness & Lion

I want to show you a video that I think is a great demonstration of the difference between Mind 1.0 and Mind 2.0.

Watch this 1-minute clip:

What we saw was a lioness that seemed to be concerned about her safety and comfort. Not wanting to get hurt, she was reluctant to go after a running wildebeest. Her desires for safety and comfort carried greater weight than accomplishing her goal of getting a meal.

This is very justifiable, because who wants to get hurt? No one.

But, the lion seemed to operate with a higher level of cognitive and emotional sophistication. Does this lion want to get hurt? Of course not! But, he doesn’t let his fear of getting hurt hold him back from accomplishing his goal of getting a meal.

Those who are less cognitively and emotionally sophisticated hold really tightly to their needs to feel safe, comfortable, and like they belong, often to the point where they are unable to get outside of their comfort zone.

Those who are more cognitively and emotionally sophisticated generally want to be safe, comfortable, and feel like they belong, but they don’t hold so rigidly to those things. They are able to put these desires on the backburner to obtain their higher-ordered goals.

More about Vertical Development

If you want to learn more about vertical development, download my Vertical Development White Paper