Andrew Riis’ Three Levels of Life

My friend Andrew has done many things. He kicked off a podcast (no scratch that, a movement) that connects strangers.


He also talks about The Three Levels of Life. 


Picture this.


A girl is born into a plantation as a slave. She is never chained, or held back. But all she does is follow the rules, because that’s all she’s ever been told to do.

Even though there is nothing physically stopping her, she has been hardwired to follow the rules. As such she never leaves the plantation. 


This is the first level: Following the rules you’ve been given.

No matter how crazy they are…

Now imagine that girl sees a woman walk off the plantation and head along the road. The woman doesn’t say anything at all, she gives no hints, no indications… she just takes off. 


Then the girl has been given something new – she has been given permission to think differently. She’s seen someone else succeed at breaking the rules without punishment.

Perhaps she can emulate the innovator, and follow in her path across the road?


This is the second level: Realising there is a different way


On Level Two, we look at ‘the greats’ and realise we can break the rules. Wanting to emulate Oprah Winfrey, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Donald Bradman, Richard Branson. 


But in trying to copy the ‘greats’ we miss something important. We really don’t yield much by copying them… because, one thing they all have in common is that they all ventured into the unknown. They all did something that had never been done before


This is the Third Level Andrew talks about. 


The rarest, and most difficult level. 


This is where the girl leaves the plantation, but she doesn’t follow the woman down the road. Instead, she heads into the forest out of which her ancestors came. The forest which is filled with the mystical unknown, with all the possibilities and opportunities a girl from a plantation could hope for. 

She takes a path not most travelled, or least travelled, but one not travelled at all. Her path.


Without-The-Box Thinking


After Andrew talked about the Three Levels, I was hit by a spark of recognition. The levels mimicked the three stages I explained in my own understanding of this: Without-The-Box Thinking.

People very often think they’re breaking new ground when they started thinking outside-the-box.


But such people can still think bigger and bolder. Before we give ourselves credit for seeming smarter than the majority we need to pause.


And think.


Our fullest self is not realised just because we follow the minority rather than the majority. Our fullest self is realised when we proceed to do what only we can do.


Who do you think of when you read this? Would this piece ‘open a door’ for someone you know? Share it with them. 

With Joe Wehbe – The Podcast

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