I am going to show you three different distribution charts:

distribution charts

Which chart do you think is the best representation of:

  • Height in the population?
  • Weight (in pounds) in the population?
  • Wealth in the population?

Chart C is a good representation of height in the population. Height carries a fairly normal distribution.

Chart B is a good representation of weight in the population. There is a slight skew to the right, where we have more people that weigh a lot than people who weight a little.

Chart A is a good representation of wealth in the population. There are a lot of people who have a little wealth and a few people who have a lot of wealth.

Vertical Development

Now consider, which of these charts do you think is the best representation of vertical development in the population? Asked differently, which chart best represents the distribution of cognitive and emotional sophistication in the population?

The answer is “A.”

Mind 1.0

There are a lot of people who do not make meaning of their world with very much cognitive and emotional sophistication. In fact, 64% of people operate at the lowest level of vertical development: Mind 1.0.

These are people who commonly:

  • Make meaning of vulnerability as a sign of weakness
  • Make meaning of constructive criticism as an attack and get defensive
  • Make meaning of problems as things to be avoided

Mind 2.0

There is a small amount of people who make meaning of their world with a moderate amount of cognitive and emotional sophistication. In fact, 35% of people operate at the middle level of vertical development: Mind 2.0.

These are people who commonly:

  • Make meaning of success as beating out others
  • Make meaning of failure as a sign that they are a failure
  • Making meaning of goal accomplishment as a signal of their self-worth

Mind 3.0

There are very few people who make meaning of their world with a high amount of cognitive and emotional sophistication. In fact, only 1% of people operate at the highest level of cognitive and emotional sophistication: Mind 3.0.

These are people who commonly:

  • Make meaning of vulnerability as a sign of strength
  • Make meaning of constructive criticism as an opportunity to grow
  • Make meaning of success as lifting and elevating others
  • Make meaning of failure as an opportunity to learn and grow

Why should I care about the distribution of vertical development?

I have presented all of this information to help you to ask a question that very few people ask and even fewer possess the capability of answering honestly: What is your vertical altitude?

Where in the distribution do you think you fall?

As you think about this, consider:

  • More than 80% of people think they are above-average drivers
  • More than 80% of people think they are above-average leaders
  • 65% of people think they are above-average in intelligence
  • 90% of people think they are above average

In other words, you probably are not as cognitively and emotionally sophisticated as you think. And, you would do well to embrace that. In fact, I think it is necessary to embrace that if you want to elevate in your vertical altitude.

climb chart

What are you doing to vertically develop?

The people on the far right of the distribution, they are the transformational leaders and people we look up to.

You can get there. You can become transformational and have a massive positive impact on your world.

But, the question becomes, what are you doing to get there?

Here are things that I have learned about what the most vertically developed people do:

  • They are readers. They are continually seeking to learn.
  • They engage in specific efforts to uncover and heal from their past trauma (often therapy).
  • They seek out feedback from others about themselves.
  • They regularly engage in mindfulness practices.
  • They have daily habits to raise their energy and be intentional.
  • They have a clear purpose that is about contributing to something beyond themselves.

What can you do in the next week to move toward a higher altitude?