Like a lot of major discoveries, Dr Clare Graves’ research started with an accidental question.

What are the characteristics of a ‘mature adult’?

Over the years, Graves and his team asked the question of many thousands of individuals around the world. What became clear from the mass of answers was that there were multiple different types of mature adult. Types that were distinctly different from one another. Types that it turned out followed a clear pattern.

There are many descriptions of the patterns floating around today as various different teams have sought to build on Graves’ findings. Some will talk about Levels and Tiers, some will relate the different types of adult in terms of colours, some will give evocative names to the different types, some use the expression vMemes.

The metaphor we use in Everythink involves a mental gearbox.

Every human born anywhere in the world is born with the same basic gearbox. When we’re first born, that gearbox is a fairly simple one. It has one gear. A gear that Graves designated ‘AN’, and which others have called ‘Survival’ or ‘Beige’. There are many similarities between this Gear and the base level in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. A newborn baby is thinking in ‘Survival’ mode. So, sadly, is a person suffering from a degenerative disease. So is someone suffering from shell-shock. 

Anyone thinking in this mode has a problem: they cannot survive by themselves. A newborn baby needs someone to look after them. And baby needs to learn certain skills in order for that to happen. They learn to cry when they’re hungry. And they learn that smiling makes big people like them more. All this learning around how to get along with others eventually coalesces into a second Mental Gear, called ‘BO’ or ‘Tribal’ or ‘Purple’.

Now there are two gears in the infant’s mental gearbox. Once the skills required to successfully be allowed into our tribe have been mastered. We again begin to encounter certain problems. ‘Why do I have to be with these people all the time?’ being one of them.

If we successfully resolve these types of contradictory – ‘I want to be part of the tribe and I want to be free to do things my way’ – situation, as we do so, our expanded consciousness allows us to add a third Gear into our gearbox. This one Graves called ‘CP’. Others have labelled it ‘Feudal’ or ‘Red’.

This pattern of emerging limitations and working out how to solve them carries on through the course of our lives. Every time we successfully solve one of these limiting contradictions, we get to add a new Gear to our mental gearbox.

To date, Graves and other research has uncovered eight distinctly different Gears.

Graves’ strange two-letter codification of the different Gears – AN, BO, CP, etc – was, crucially, to recognise that the development of a new gear meant a shift in the organisation of knowledge inside the brain of an individual, and a corresponding shift in the collective thinking of the environment in which the individual finds themselves.

This is significant because it means that if a person has, say the first three Gears in their gearbox, they can only really add the fourth – DQ – gear if they’re surrounded by other people with the DQ gear in their gearboxes.

So, what’s the significance of all of this?

Well, first up, if we want to have better relationships with other people, it is a really good idea to know which Gear they are in. If our mental Gears match, there is a good chance that we will really communicate; if our Mental Gears don’t match, there is almost no chance that any meaningful communication will occur. The best way to remedy this situation is for us to recognise what Gear the other person (or people) are in, and for us to shift to that Gear.

The Everythink book will teach you how to recognise what Gear others are thinking in, and how to either shift their Mental Gear or our own. It will also show you how to set about the tough journey of adding more Gears to your mental gearbox. And, if you’re feeling very brave, the gearboxes of others.

What the book will also do is explain why so many of today’s – social media-driven echo chamber-problems exist, and how we can set about fixing them.

As we’re at constant pains to emphasise in the book, at the level of the individual, none of the Mental Gears is any better or worse than any other. There is no correlation, for example, between the number of Gears in your gearbox and a person’s ‘intelligence’ (IQ, EQ, etc). But at a societal level, the lack of collective Gears has enormous repercussions. Many of today’s societal problems are global in nature, and if the ‘right’ Gears aren’t present, there is no possibility to tackle those problems in a meaningful fashion. Society needs more people with more Gears in their mental gearbox. Everythink provides a recipe for achieving that goal.