The Colors of Change: Turquoise

Spiral Dynamics is a theory of human and societal development uncovered by  Dr. Clare W. Graves (1914-1986). Graves was a developmental psychologist and professor of psychology at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He was a peer of Abraham Maslow.

Graves’ model is a bio-psycho-social one based on more than two decades of research. According to Ken Wilber, the founder of the Integral movement which incorporates Spiral Dynamics, the Gravesian model has so far “been tested in more than fifty thousand people from around the world, and there have been no major exceptions found in the general scheme.” It has also been called, the Theory of Everything.

With this model, Graves discovered the underlying pattern for human and societal change. He identified eight unique stages (or layers as I refer to them) that we move through in a set sequence. However, the model continues beyond these stages and is “neverending”. As long as humanity survives, we will grow and evolve.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Turquoise layer of development.

Turquoise “Holistic” (Communal/Integrated Brain)

Emerged: 60 years ago

Mantra: Experience the wholeness of existence through mind and spirit.

Core Values: Experiential spirituality, minimalism, awe, unity, simplicity, poetic perception of reality, action through inaction.

Turquoise is still taking shape and only makes up a small part of the population. It began about 30 years ago in the 1990s (just 20 years after Yellow!). The Turquoise layer is a collective blend of individuals who insist on a trusting and respectful environment.

Individuals operating from Turquoise are very capable and spiritually oriented, with their spirituality resembling panentheism more than more dogmatic and patriarchal religions of our time.[xi]

They have an appreciation for awe, reverence, gratitude, unity, and simplicity. They feel connected to the power of the universe and focus on the good of all living things (not just humans) as integrated systems. There is an expanded use of brain/mind tools and global networking and connection is the norm. This is likely the first layer that will be able to bring true global stability.

Turquoise detects holistic energy flows that bind everything together and identifies solutions to protect all life.

Turquoise is a repeat of Purple themes, only at a higher octave and more complexity, but now the tribe is the entire planet and possibly beyond. Just one individual operating from the Turquoise layer can make a tremendous contribution to the planet.

Graves characterized Turquoise in a 1970 paper.

Through personal experience, these individuals show that—no matter how much information is available—not everything can be understood. Astonishment, awe, reverence, gratitude, unity and simplicity are appreciated. Reality can be experienced, but one can never be certain about it.

There is an atmosphere of trust and respect. They stand up against constraints and limitations on a quiet and personal manner—never in a showcasing manner. They avoid relationships in which others try to dominate—do not like to dominate others but rather specify a clear direction insofar as it is necessary.

Positive expressions of Turquoise: To see the world and the cosmos as an integral whole. To explore, feel and pragmatically work together to solve the large complex problems to serve humanity and the earth. Turquoise has an uncanny ability to capture truth, knowledge, and diverse perspectives for integration into their systems. Turquoise is energetically in tune with the Universe. They are compassionate, but at the same time, can clearly see and do what needs to be done.

Next Layers

Because Graves’ model has no end, there are layers beyond Turquoise. Beck and Cowan claim that a Coral layer exists but haven’t been able to identify enough people in this layer yet to make it statistically significant.

Ken Wilber also believes the Coral layer exists—and more layers beyond that. He calls the layer after Turquoise (which would include Coral) the “Third Tier” of consciousness and says that fully realized beings such as Jesus and Buddha likely evolved to this Third Tier. Unitive consciousness and universal love and compassion characterize this layer.


Graves' spiral dynamics from The Change Code

 Your Colors

I’ve created a free assessment that you can take to find out your colors. You will receive a report with the results of your assessment, showing you a ranking of your top value systems by color.

Want to learn more about Spiral Dynamics? Check out my Spiral Dynamics Resource page or read more articles on the topic including more info on each color/layer.

Your Turn

I want to hear from you. How did you first learn about Spiral Dynamics? How have you used this theory in your personal or business development? Share your experience in the comments.