The Three Plateaus of the Mind that Affects Our Thinking.

How we think about the future, and what we believe is possible for us, will inevitably be influenced by the filters we employ now in day-to-day life.

Bruce Rosenstein in his book ‘Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way mentioned the role of the mind as it connects to our future-focused mindset. He listed the work of Kegan and Lahey who had both agreed on three (3) plateaus that at various times we will exhibit ways of thinking using all three,
though in most cases we act on only the first two levels. This post is curled out from Bruce work available on amazon. The book is a great piece of work for any one seeking to plan and live out a great future.

The socialized mind is the first level of complexity. This type of mind is a team player and a follower, and tends to be more reliant on others for setting direction and deciding what is important. None of these are particularly bad qualities, but they are probably limiting for leadership opportunities or creativity and original thinking.


The self-authoring mind is the next level in complexity. With this mind, individuals are much more in charge of writing their own life story and developing their own belief systems separate from others in
their environment. This requires a “step back” from the environment to decide what is best based on a person’s own codes, judgments, and values. This is the level at which most leaders think, and it lends itself to those who are problem solvers and independent of mind. Kegan and Lahey point out that such decisiveness can be a problem if the person is wrong, or if things change in the environment, causing his
or her judgments and plans to be flawed.


The self-transforming mind is the highest level of complexity and is rare. It represents an advanced capacity for learning and change and an orientation to finding problems more than solving them. It
is also the highest level of independence and, crucially, requires the ability to hold contradictions in one’s mind. This too requires a step back, yet in this case it is a step back to observe and determine one’s
own limits and beliefs. The self-transforming mind can look at multiple points of view and contradictions in a clear, holistic way. Kegan and Lahey make a crucial point about how this relates to the future.

The self-transforming mind “is aware that it lives in time and that the world is in motion, and what might have made sense today may not make as much sense tomorrow.” This framework helps us to think about our own ways of doing things, of how much we take into account the views of others or the wide number of viewpoints in the outside world. It speaks to the changing nature of the world and how we can keep that in mind as we continually review our habits, and how those habits affect everything
we do. It also provides a way to view our relationship with change: least comfortable with the socialized mind and most comfortable when we are self-transforming. But don’t feel bad if you are not in the latter category. Kegan and Lahey note that it is still rare, is something to aspire to, and may only be reached by a few people.

If you have found this post useful, then you will find reading the entire book a great benefit. Get your copy here on amazon. See my 18 day’s insights from the book here

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