The Most Vertically Developed People Question Their Beliefs & Metaphors

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson


More and more, I am coming to believe that people vary in how awakened or conscious they are.

Stated differently, people vary in the degree to which they operate on autopilot.

This has led to me wonder: “How can I gauge the degree to which I am operating on autopilot?”

There are two questions that feel might help both me and you awaken to the degree to which we operate on autopilot (and I am going to be on the lookout for more):

  1. Am I willing to embrace and do things that don’t feel good?
  2. Am I willing to question all of my beliefs and metaphors?

Let me comment on things I have learned associated with each of these questions.

Embracing and doing things that don’t feel good

I have recently learned something about myself. It is not easy for me to outwardly express sincere appreciation for others. To me, it feels really vulnerable. In fact, it doesn’t feel good to me.

If I continually avoid expressing sincere appreciation for others, that is me operating on autopilot.

But, if I can actually step into expressing sincere appreciation for others, something that feels good, that feels to me like I am not operating on autopilot.

What is something that you should be more willing to do, but actually doesn’t feel good to you?

Could you work toward doing that thing even though it doesn’t feel good?

Questioning your beliefs and metaphors

We all carry beliefs and metaphors, and these play a significant role in how we think about and navigate life.

For example, I recently had a coaching call with an executive in her 60’s. In this call, she said that she struggles to nurture to the people that she leads.

I asked her where this comes from. Her answer surprised me.

She said, “When I was little, my dad used to tell me, ‘when you are at work, you work.’”

This has been a belief and metaphor for all of her professional life and it is one that has prevented her from being a better leader.

It wasn’t until we brought this belief and metaphor forward and questioned it that she started to operate differently.

In my next coaching call with her, she told me six different ways she had tried to be more nurturing to those that she had led, including creating space for them to “bitch.”

What are some of the beliefs and metaphors that you carry, and are you willing to question them?


Here are some other metaphors that I have heard:

  • You can have love or money, but you can’t have both
  • Success leads to happiness
  • It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God

Our metaphors may be correct, but that is not the point. The point is: are we willing to question them?

  • How are they serving us?
  • How are they limiting us?

Metaphors at different levels of vertical development

Something I have started to pay attention to is: Can I categorize metaphors across the three different mind levels? And, there are some metaphors that I have come across recently that align with the different mind levels, and they deal with how organizational leaders talk about their approach to business.

Mind 1.0 Metaphor

Our organization is a family.

This speaks to the desires of Mind 1.0 people: safety, comfort, and belonging.

What I have found is that the organizations who carry this metaphor have warm cultures, but they generally are stagnant and have fallen “behind the times.” They struggle with growth and agility.

Mind 2.0 Metaphors

Business is like sports.

These organizations use sports analogies all the time. This is because these analogies speak to the desires of Mind 2.0 people: stand out, advance, get ahead, and win.

What I have found is that the organizations who carry sports metaphors are always short-term oriented, outcome-focused (i.e., strong focus on goals), not very psychologically safe, struggle with a fixed mindset, and are not connected strongly to a purpose.

Mind 3.0 Metaphors

An organization is a value creator.

This speaks to the desires of Mind 3.0 people: contributing, adding value, and lifting others.

When organizations use this as a metaphor, they are purpose-centered, long-term focused, focus on the processes more than the outcomes, strongly value culture, and are agile.

Now ask yourself…

What are the metaphors your organization relies upon?

If you want help exploring and awakening to your metaphors, let me know. I would love to help.

Subscribe for the latest posts

Sign up for updates

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to accelerate your vertical development journey. Includes cutting-edge vertical development articles, tips, and resources.

2 Responses

  1. I love reading your blog! I do believe, though, that you can have a warm culture and be a value creator. I think your work can feel like a family and be purpose-driven, agile, and outcome-focused. It’s a perspective of Mind 1.0 I haven’t thought of and I don’t think it has to be one or the other. Thank you for continuing to challenge my thinking and push me to vertically develop.

    1. Thank you!

      I agree, it is never clear cut. I do think that value-creating cultures can and often are warm.

      But, I think a helpful question to ask is: What is the priority?

      In Mind 1.0 cultures, the priority is often warmth. In Mind 3.0 cultures, the priority is value-creation.

      Warmth shouldn’t be the outcome, but it can be a means to a better outcome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Newsletter

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to accelerate your vertical development journey. Includes cutting-edge vertical development articles, tips, and resources.