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Freedom Ladder

Posted on March 29, 2018 in Maintenance


The stage of disloyalty is the lowest moral and behavioral stage in which a person can function. Lying, cheating, stealing, betraying, blaming others, victimizing, and pretense (pretending) are the behaviors characterizing it.

Negative emotions including anger, jealousy, resentment, hatred, and depression predominate. Relationships are exploitative. People in disloyalty view the world as a place that cannot be trusted and believes that everyone else lies, cheats, steals and feels negative emotions. Moral judgments are made on the basis of pleasure/pain and reciprocity.


People in opposition are quite similar to those in this loyalty. However, those in opposition are somewhat more honest about it; they pretended less. Those in opposition tend to blame society, the rules, or the unfairness of others for their problems and state in life. They are in open opposition to the established order.

They tend to be rigid and on adaptable and are more confrontational, hostile, and openly manipulative. Constant conflict is often seen. Moral judgments come from pleasure/pain and reciprocity.


A person in this stage may lie, cheat and steal, but they are uncertain if they should. They’d typically have no long-term goals and usually don’t know if there is a direction that is right for them. They show rapidly changing beliefs and a basic uncertainty about other people. They say “I don’t know” a lot and sometimes are uncertain whether they should or can change.

This stage typically doesn’t last long. There are moral judgments are based on pleasing others as well as pleasure/pain and reciprocity.


People in this stage know when they have hurt others or themselves and feel responsible for it.  Low self-esteem, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy often predominate. While they seem to “let down” others and self frequently, they recognize that they are the source of the problem. This is the first age that positive relationships can occur.

People in injury have trouble following through on their goals and commitments. Moral judgments are based on pleasing others, pleasure/pain, and reciprocity.


Those in non-existence do not have a firm sense of identity and do not feel connected to the world. They often feel little purpose in their life, but do feel responsible for what happens to them.

While they feel somewhat alienated, they can have satisfying relationships. Moral judgments can be made from law and order, pleasing others, reciprocity, or pleasure/pain.


The major distinction between danger and non-existence is that those in danger have committed two long-term goals.  They feel the risk of danger and have communicated their desire to others. They feel a definite direction in life and seeing relationships as necessary, important, and satisfying. They usually gain their identity from their long-term goals and recognize and requirements of situations quickly.

Most of these people make their moral judgments from the societal contract level and a law and order. Many of them “slip” to lower stages of reasoning and feel a sense of personal letdown when this occurs.


A sense of urgency in completing goals dominates this stage because the individual is totally committed to fulfilling their personal goals. The goals of a person in this stage or more broad and include the welfare of others rather than goals being narrow and self-serving. They feel in control of their lives, but often feel that they have over committed and are at risk of failure of a slowdown.

Most of their decisions are based on what is best for society and their organization, but they shall much higher, idealized ethical principles as well. In addition, they sometimes slip to lower levels of reasoning and attempt to rectify this as soon as they realize it.


People who experience this state have into how they live their lives.  Thus, they have their needs fulfilled without a great deal of effort. To someone in this stage, work is not work. However, their identity nearly always involves the welfare of others, whether it is the welfare of their employees or family. They often become involved in social causes and have genuine concern for others. They give great consideration to their own conduct and are not quick to judge others.

They attempt to keep all their relationships on honest, trustworthy levels where they are held accountable. It is clear that people in this stage have chosen the right identity (set of goals). Moral judgments are based about half and have on societal and ethical principles.


Few persons reach the state where a person sees others as an extension of self. Reaching grace means one must give oneself to a major cause. Doing the right things, in the right ways, is a primary concern.

Value is placed on human life, justice, dignity, and freedom. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mother Teresa are a few examples.

Be Still and Reap the Rewards – Operating from a Position of Power

Posted on March 17, 2018 in Change and Growth

There is a gentleman here who since his arrival, is constantly complaining, becoming angry about how the correctional officers speak to him and act toward him. Shane feels he is being disrespected and makes vague threats concerning officers and staff.

I overheard him complaining one day and offered to him that the correctional officer doesn’t lose any sleep over the situation, perhaps doesn’t care, and most likely doesn’t even know his name. Perhaps Shane could let go and find some peace in his life.

He is constantly operating from a position of weakness rather than a position of power. And by weakness and power I’m not making a moral judgment call. Operating from a position of weakness doesn’t make one a bad person.

Weakness and power in this context refer to positions of unrealized potential versus realized potential, inefficiency versus efficiency in inefficacy versus efficacy.

Man standing in field, looking to the sunset.

What Shane has done is to externalize what he perceives as the problem. The problem he is experiencing is “out there,” it is a problem with the correctional officer and the correctional officer’s attitude, in Shane’s way of thinking.

However, by externalizing the problem, by taking no responsibility for the situation, he has abdicated all power in his ability to solve it. In Shane’s eyes, he might solve the problem by verbally assaulting the correctional officer or by physical assault.

But this solves nothing. It would only serve to compound the problem. It would result in further loss of freedom, an increase in his stress level and to generally make his life more unmanageable. As long as the problem is “out there” it is completely unsolvable.

He is operating from a position of weakness.

No personal problem, if it is externalized, can be solved. All problems then must be internalized in one’s mind. They are a function of how we view ourselves in the context of our place in the world. This perception is based on our beliefs, values, attitudes and result in a particular behavioral pattern.

Therefore, problems must addressed through an internalization process by realizing that they exist within ourselves. How then could Shane, by internalizing his problem, address the issue at hand?

He could realize that he is being driven by ego and false pride. He could realize that a solution might be to walk away knowing he can become mentally still, calm his emotions and find peace spiritually.

The most powerful position we can operate from is one in which we are still mentally, calm emotionally and peaceful spiritually. Only then can we see ourselves in the context of our place in the world with any real clarity.

I play the card game Hearts with three other gentleman here. It is a fantastic game in that it represents a microcosm of the world complete with the joys and sorrows, the grief and the ecstasy that the real-world provides.

One’s, often hidden or guarded, personality traits come to the fore when playing; passiveness, aggression, compassion. Alliances are formed and betrayed, hopes are realized or abandoned and ultimately the game is either won or lost.

One’s alter ego may take hold in a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type of mentality. It is truly a wonderful game and above all it is played in an “every man for himself” method.

The card game, Hearts, is a very pure game and there is an expectation by seasoned players that a certain protocol or method of play be followed. When this isn’t followed, animosity and resentment may result.

Enter John, a player who understands the mechanics of play but perhaps not the subtle spirit which guides the game.

When challenged, John may abandon all hope and proceed on a streak of self-destruction to the detriment of the other players. His feelings become hurt and his sense of false pride compels him.

He loses the perspective that Hearts purists rely upon for quality game play. I originally saw John’s attitude, toward the game and the other players, as a problem. The problem was that John was not a good Hearts player, at least in the context of the spirit of the game.

If only John could get over himself, if he could just see and appreciate the games purity all would benefit and the games would be of a much higher quality. I had externalized my problem and I could not change John nor his playing style.

Although these options were beyond my purview, I focused my energy on changing something beyond my ability to change. Since my problem was externalized I had completely abdicated my power and my ability to solve the problem.

I took a step back and honestly viewed my motivation for wanting to change these externalized concerns. I asked myself what the true nature of the problem was and I realized it was an issue of how I saw myself in the context of my place in the world.

It was predicated on my core beliefs, values, attitudes and emotional state. What I realized was that John and I suffered from exactly the same problem. So I assumed responsibility. I took ownership of the problem by internalizing it.

This required a brutally honest appraisal of what motivated me. Now solutions abounded. Now I was operating from a powerful position. I could accept John’s game play as a challenge and learn to grow from it. I could simply walk away and no longer play with him.

I was in control! I felt completely and utterly powerful. Empowerment is a heady experience. Being still mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, along with an honest motivational appraisal are the linchpins for the ultimate power position.

All great leaders understand this. It allows one to lead by example and to bring out the best in one’s subordinates, family, friends and associates. It is a major support in our ability to grow and to learn.

Operating from a position of power, via an honest calm and centered self, is what I have sought my entire life.

This position has brought me peace, comfort and an ability to ultimately realize my fullest potential. My advice to all those who have sought a similar state of being? Be still, be true to yourself, and reap the reward!

Create! Power! Life! Live Your Life to the Fullest!

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