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Three Tiers of Mind

November 11th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
This is a long piece but one I've been thinking through for a long time.  I've come gradually to see people as being in one of three Tiers when it comes to their motivations, mindset, and ability to make things happen.  Before I begin, I want to make clear that this is not the case of one group of people being better than another.  It is also not a relative scale or spectrum; the conditions for each group are explicit, discrete, and absolute, based solely on whether the person has or does not have the ability to direct not only his own fate but that of others.  There is no in between.  Lastly, it is important to understand that these are mindsets, not people.  It has nothing to do with social status, quality of character, or things like open-mindedness, political leaning, etc.  For sake of discussion, we will assume everyone is well-intentioned, honest, and overall good people.  This topic can be easily misconstrued as judgmental or arrogant, but it’s important to see that I am not saying people should be one way or another, just that there exists the dynamic and how to recognize it when you do come across it.  The difference is as discrete as actually being racist and saying blacks are inferior to whites vs observing that there exists a power struggle of blacks against whites due to sources of influence.  It's easy to assume more being implied than what is specifically said.  What I will define, however, are three Tiers representing mindsets each by definition superior to the next in terms of influence and outcome, in terms of being able to identify what they actually want and then make that happen.  Again it doesn't mean the "person" is better or worse, just their ability to effect change.  It is not about where you should be as much as recognizing where you are and where everyone else is.  It is figuring out who is really making things happen, who is at the beginning, middle, and end of a causal chain, a power dynamic and understanding of where influences originate.  Was it your idea or did it come externally and if so from who? I start this off explaining things in a very repetitive and convoluted manner so as to not give people the wrong idea of what I'm trying to say.  Going forward, my language will be much more to the point, but it is important not to lose track of the idea as opposed to the literal definition or insensitivity of word choice (of which there will be many).

The best way to visualize this is through three levels of a triangle, almost like a food pyramid.  Tier 1 rests on top as the group directing Tier 2’s actions, and Tier 2 rests in the middle directing Tier 3’s actions.  Tier 3, at the bottom, directs nobody else’s actions and can be thought of as the common person who just wants to make a living and survive comfortably; they are the largest group but neither know what they truly want nor how to make things happen (other than what they’ve seen or have been told).  What they know, do, and perhaps even want ultimately come from above even if they are not aware of it (think consumerism, media).  Tier 2 has figured out what they want, or at least that they want something more than what they've been given, but can't make things happen.  They think they are in control and often have explicit, authoritative status and power over others, but their influence and livelihood ultimately depend on someone else, even if that someone else on paper is beneath them.  They can direct the fate of others but paradoxically cannot direct their own.  It is like the president being the puppet of someone else who pulls the strings from behind the scenes.  The group that pulls the strings is Tier 1.

Those that read my writeup Breaking People to Their Core [#] will know that I think of people as having one true core that defines them deep down.  This is similar in that here I'm discussing the person's means of rationalizing around that core - not what they say to justify their actions, not the masks they put on to play their part in society, but what underlies everything they do or think at the root, why they wear the masks they do, what thought process they ultimately go through when push comes to shove, who they are when no one else is around.  Despite what we'd like to think, most people are rational even if not necessarily logical.  There's always a reason why they acted; it's not just random or crazy.  If there is a core that represents who people truly are beneath all the layers, the three Tiers can be thought of as what people ultimately do, the logical and action-oriented counterpart to the core that is emotional and a state of being, the how to the core's why.

I will start by explaining each of the three Tiers from the ground up.  The second half of the write-up will then be spent comparing and contrasting the three together.



Tier 3

The best place to start is with Tier 3 and then move upwards, as Tier 3 forms the foundation for which the other two build on.  The easiest way to picture Tier 3 is as the mindset of a common man, a lay-person, the worker bee in the economy, the little guy or Joe-Schmoe - someone who either doesn't really care about the grander scheme of things or isn't really motivated by anything more than their personal wellbeing - primal needs, survival, comfort, pleasures, indulgence, whatever feels good or bad, whatever gives them more.  It's not that they don't care at all about other things, but when it comes down to choosing one or the other, that is the driving perspective.

The perspective makes them shortsighted, again not in a bad way but just as a matter of fact.  Their priorities are often more about immediate gain, 1-step if-then "plans," actions that are more or less blunt or ham-fisted, and they are predominantly concerned with having or getting, whether it be material (consumerism, media, etc) or even intangible (rights, privilege, even work).  "What's in it for me?" "Who wins/loses?" "What does he have that I don't?" Even when it comes to people, it's "look at who I have" or "this is my guy," as if people were goods to be counted and stacked.  It's not so much greed or selfishness as much as it is self-centeredness (in the very technical sense, not derogatory) and caring only about the physical world - what they can literally see.  Their attention is constantly drawn to who has what, who gets what, me or you, rather than why or how.  This in and of itself is not good or bad, but what ends up happening, and the reason for the term shortsighted, is that they miss both the bigger picture of what's going on and they can't see, let alone plan, what comes just a few steps ahead.  They see the carrot dangled in front of them and perhaps they see the person who dangles it as well (think of all the little guys against the big guy talk), but they don't actively think about where they're going or why they're being led there.  They recognize things when they see it, but they don't see it coming.  They are so concerned with getting or having what's in front of them that they do not bother to consider what comes after that, whether they need what's in front of them to get there in the first place.

That isn't to say they can't string together a sequence of events and recognize causality.  If anything, their ability to see things at face value and be blind to the games others play is a strength.  They'll see a spade as a spade no matter what anyone says.  They don't need someone's opinion to know good or bad.  As long as they've seen it before, they'll know.  The issue is they struggle to imagine what they have not seen or experienced and will more often than not throw cold water on anything leading to that uncertainty.  Hence the shortsightedness.  You can assemble a car and explain the cause-and-effect, but they won't believe it until they see it run.  You hear this a lot in comments like, "If your degree is so valuable, why aren't you rich already?" "If it's real, why don't I see it?" That's the crux of how they see ideas, goals, aspirations - things that are abstract and/or haven't happened yet, anything that can't be measured or quantified.  They need evidence, proof, data.  "If your idea is so great, why isn't it working already?" They struggle to see how one step leads to another, what comes next, even if you spell it out to them, unless they see the result with their own eyes.  If you had a seed and they had a rock, as far as they're concerned, you're both in the same place with the same potential because nothing's happened and no one knows if anything ever will.  Between the choice of immediate cash or something more abstract, the answer is always to take the money and run.  Potential is just another word for make-believe.

This same weakness keeps them from preventing a problem before it happens.  They often need to make a mistake at least once to avoid it in the future, to feel the pain or satisfaction of overcoming it, and there's this false sense that everything has to be linear, that good outcomes must seem good along the way, that progress has to be visible before the end result.  They give no credit to prevention or foresight and embrace the belief that you can't truly know something unless you experience it firsthand.  It's almost a textbook form of reinforcement learning and classical conditioning, where you essentially only learn from the reward and punishment of the past.  They're good at observing that one thing leads to another but don't dig deep enough to find why, to know what is assumption and what is not.  For all they know, "everything is an assumption."  Perhaps this is why much of machine learning is also modeled the same way (see Creating Sentient Artificial Intelligence [#]).

Tier 3's frame of reference, structurally speaking, is very subjective and personal.  The world to them is only as big as what they themselves witness or experience.  Everything is in reference to the individual no matter how limited that perspective might be.  This lends itself to innate susceptibility to biases, especially those relating to the past or personal.  A colleague illustrated this best with the comment, "A person's past is a very good indicator of what he'll do in the future."  A failing student will always fail.  A thief will always be a thief.  Everyone is just a pattern.  Nothing changes until it shows in the evidence, and even then, you're tainted by your past forever.  For Tier 3, perhaps almost as a result of their sense of powerlessness in the world, the only thing they really have is the past - it's the one thing they have that no one can ever take away from them.  You see this a lot with the emphasis on experience, on resumes, the argument that they have "x years" or that they're older and therefore wiser, but you see this also in the pride taken with what you're born with, where you're from, your heritage, how you were raised - things that you otherwise don't have any input or choice into.  There's nothing wrong with being proud of your past per se, but Tier 3 takes this and bases their future, their identity, and their purpose around it - a circle of life in an almost tragic way where your life is spent reliving that of those before you.  A watchmaker's son becomes a watchmaker.  The children of wars fought spend their lives fighting smaller and smaller wars.  Choice is taken out of the equation, perhaps because in their minds they do not have it to begin with.  You see this also in biases like basing decisions on just shared history (we're both from the same town or school), assuming past performance predicts future performance (stock market), or trusting someone you've known longer rather than actually know better.  The why inevitably ends up being because it's always been this way, everyone does it this way, things just are.

Some of the traits of Tier 3 are a result of busy lifestyle and environment, but deep down, they just really don't want more from life than what life already offers - the pleasures, the comforts, material and emotional satisfaction, indulgence - essentially hedonism.  A lot of them, if anything, just want to be left alone in some corner of the world to live out their life in peace.  They just want to be "free" but not really do anything with their freedom other than exist in that state.  A great example of this mentality is of the characters in the movie "Chronicle," where even with the power to move anything with their mind, the best they can think of is to skip rocks over the lake without their hands.  When asked if they shouldn't be doing more with it, one of the characters literally says, "What else is there?" Of course, people'll rarely admit these motivations outright, but when push comes to shove, when times get difficult or the climb too steep, or even when times are just very good to the point there is no pressure to do anything, the choices they make will ultimately be what satisfies their instinctive needs and desires, what makes them feel good physically and emotionally.  You see this where you can be thinking you're on the same team as someone, but at the most crucial moment, that person is more worried about what they get out of it.  Or when you're thinking someone is motivated by a greater cause but the moment of real joy for that person is still when the check comes in.  It's the guy who says they believe in the greater good, but when pushed to the brink of survival, they readily throw someone else under the bus.  Or the guy you thought was loyal only to be swayed by whoever was nicer and better complimented him - whoever made him feel better, took care of him, gave him a treat.

The stereotype is someone who says their ultimate goal in life is to "just be happy" (and perhaps they want everyone else to also be "happy").  What seems to be missed is that happiness is the state you reach when you achieve what you want, otherwise you'd just take a pill and forever be in a "happy" coma.  What they really mean is they don't want anything other than to feel good.  Once they actually have enough not to worry about basic needs or comfort, they don't actually know what they want at all, mainly because they never gave much thought to actually getting to this point in their lives.  It was supposed to always be just out of reach.  Think of those who are so busy working, who believe they'd be happy if they could just get time off to relax or enjoy, consume, stop.  Think of those whose dream is to retire on some beach, sip away, enjoy the sun, live the "good life," effectively do nothing other than exist in comfort and let the days drift by.  Think of the jackpot winners whose immediate reaction is to splurge on the money, only to end up poor again.  That's on the more obvious and complacent end of the spectrum, but we can even look at those more stereotypically ambitious.  The startup scene in Silicon Valley is a great example, where so many entrepreneurs on the surface seem to be aspiring for greater purpose, but when you dig into their motivations, you find out they are hopping from startup to startup, exit to exit, solely after the wealth or pleasure of it.  It doesn't really matter to them what company they join or what it is specifically they're doing, as long as it satisfies their feelings, their senses.  I've gotten plenty of resumes where the applicant literally says they just want to "be in a startup environment" and "experience the startup life."  What happens after they get here? Their minds never went that far.  It's like the guy who works in cubicle for 50 years before realizing he spent half his life in a repetitive loop (if he ever even realizes it).  How can that happen? Because he was comfortable having a secure job and standard life.  What else is there?  They live in a maze where they keep moving perpetually but can neither perceive the maze's layout from the top down nor fathom a world beyond it.

What's interesting despite this is they still technically acknowledge a bigger world exists beyond what they experience; it's just not their world, perhaps not even the real world.  There is the overarching sense that anything more amazing than the typical life is either fiction or something they'll never get to take part in and is therefore not worth wasting time thinking about; perhaps it's even something to antagonize.  You ask what if and they ask why should they care, what's that got to do with them, what do they get out of it.  Bad people just exist.  Crazy people are just crazy.  "Things are what they are."  It is a very textbook psychology of the others, in that the only things that matter are the personal while the rest of the world is just one giant gray mass of unknown - the others.  What's more interesting is that it isn't always just other *people*.  The world itself is part of this great unknown that can be personified to be acting for or against them.  Luck is on my side or fate is turned against me.  Tier 3 essentially accepts that much of the world is beyond their control, perhaps even rigged against them, and they rationalize it by creating constructs like the other, time, fate, and chance.  Those phrases like "power corrupts," "know your place/limits," or "curiosity killed the cat" - you have to wonder who came up with those because by chanting such mantras, it's almost as if Tier 3 is conditioned to never reach higher than where life puts them (power is bad, knowing your place is good, curiosity gets you killed).

What they fail to see and what keeps them out of control of their own fate is that much of what happens to them is not chance at all but the direct influence of other *people* including themselves.  It's the same thinking that tries to portray terrorist attacks as an outcome of chance - that you're less likely to be caught in a terrorist attack than be struck by lightning - or that because identity theft rarely happens you leave your guard down completely.  You see this thought process in action even with things as important as elections, where you literally just have to say your name to vote, with no check of who you are whatsoever.  The excuse is that large-scale voter fraud has never happened and therefore never will.  Politics aside, there is currently no infrastructure to prevent nor detect it, other than trusting that it hasn't happened so far.  For things that are rare or have never happened before, no matter how logically possible it is, Tier 3 does not even consider a contingency plan, no hedge, as if the 1% chance is always an impossibility.  "It's too unlikely." "What are the odds that it would happen to *me*?" It's a classic case of argument from ignorance [#], where just because they don't see it, they assume it can't happen.  It dismisses the fact there are people doing their best to make an outcome happen, that if you leave the door wide open and turn a blind eye it is no longer chance but choice - choice that you leave to someone else.  The emphasis on people is important because even if Tier 3 verbally recognizes that their situation is caused by other people, they still treat it as some great uncontrollable, unknowable force that might as well be a roll of the die.

At the heart of this is a fundamental misunderstanding of randomness.  Even if Tier 3 is right about the world being unknown (or at least unknowable to them), they assume it is then unbiased of them to attribute it to probabilistic chance - in other words, assume randomness.  Why is this biased? Because assuming randomness is not neutral.  When you assume something is random just because it is unknown, that is not objective.  You are assuming something has no cause or a random cause when in actuality you just don't know, which is very dangerous.  Imagine if you didn't know why a "random" person dies every few days in the city.  You would not just assume it is because the chance of you surviving in the city is some x probability.  You would not just say people happen to die in that city because it's random.  As soon as the cause is found, then it would turn out dying was not chance but absolute certainty for anyone who fit the criteria - whether it be eating certain foods, drinking the water, or otherwise.  If you were drinking the water the whole time, your death was not x% chance, it was guaranteed.  That is what you are doing when you prescribe something you do not know to being random or chance.  It feels safe, objective, neutral to assume something is random, but that itself is a very biased assumption.  All you're doing is lying to yourself, creating an excuse for yourself not knowing, for not being in control, while the rest of the world continues to spin regardless of whether you acknowledge it or not.

This sense of powerlessness bleeds into how they deal with problems.  Tier 3 recognizes things when they see them, and they recognize problems just as easily.  What they struggle to do, however, is actually solve it if they've never seen it before.  What they end up doing is repeatedly stating the problem, pointing it out again and again, pounding the table if you will, but never actually having any ideas how to address it.  "Something's wrong."  "The faucet's broken." "The country's going downhill."  They'll pick at technicalities, syntax in what people say, other problems surrounding the main problem, just to feel like they're doing something rather than being stagnant - sort of like someone thrashing in the water as they're drowning.  If a car fails to start, they'll poke at the brand, the quality of the wheels, the age of the brakes, even though it was just the battery that died.  If a kid scored low on a math test, they'll critique every flaw and weakness of the kid as a person, every imperfection in English, sports, speaking, as evidence of the person being incompetent in general rather than actually looking at why that person struggled in math specifically.  They repeat that someone or something is "bad" and describe non-stop what they see in front of them, often doing nothing more than telling you what your eyes already see - like the backseat driver that points out everything on the road or the coach that just keeps yelling that you missed the ball.  If you ask them how to actually solve the problem, what they would do differently if they were in that situation, the best they can come up with is the equivalence of "by not being bad."  They'll stand by telling you to "just fix it" or "just do it" but not actually do anything or help figure out how.

If there is no one around to actually pound the table to, they more or less eat the problem and accept it, like they do with the rest of the world beyond their control.  You hear this with phrases like "that's just life" or "you win some, you lose some."  Sometimes they instead defer to destiny or some other unknowable force to solve their issue, that "time heals all wounds" or "it just takes time."  What they really mean is they have no idea and they're hoping it'll fix itself, without acknowledgement what they're really doing is letting someone else take care of it.

If push comes to shove and they really have to do something about it, they try things at random, which aligns with how much of the world they believe is due to chance, random luck.  To paraphrase Nikola Tesla, it's like someone checking every straw of a hay stack to find a needle rather than attempting any theory or calculation.  They resort to the excuse that because they've been wrong before, that it's not even worth trying to have a plan, that anything can happen and any plan is fallible - essentially a slippery slope fallacy [#].  You've been wrong once and therefore didn't know, will never know, and might as well flip a coin on all your decisions.  Much of the time, their actions revolve around just throwing more resource at the problem, sort of like how their own life revolves around just getting more resource or making things feel better.  It's an abuse of the phrase "money solves all problems."  This is the father or uncle who merely tries to help you survive, feel better, live comfortably, when they see you wrecked by a situation you actually want resolved.  This is the organization that tries to throw more and more massive budget at an issue with no understanding of where that money goes.

If you attempt to point out that there exists a solution or explain how they might go about finding it, they instead take it personally, as if you implied they didn't try hard enough, because in their mind, they already did everything possible within their means.  Any discussion is therefore seen as criticism on them as a person, which they again think is unfair because it's not in their control what life bestowed on them.  You see this when you try to bring up an issue they were involved with or not even involved with, where you are talking only about the issue itself, yet they still pivot the conversation towards themselves to complain (and pound the table again).  They might even start questioning why they alone have to do something when no one else is doing it, as if being picked on, except that the only person who could be picking on them is fate itself.  It would be like if people started protesting the weather for causing natural disasters.  All it takes is to mention them and some issue in the same sentence, and everything suddenly becomes subjective and personal, centered around them and their point of view.  You could be saying "you" in the figurative sense and their immediate response is "why me and not *you*?" Yet if you mention someone else instead or even yourself, the response becomes "what about me?" It’s like if you put out a job posting for painters and some guy came to you asking, "What if I don't like painting?!" Everything always has to involve or tie back to them in some way, and if it doesn’t, they insert themselves into it.  You see this especially when a person is supposedly doing something entirely for others but still can't help doing something to draw attention to themselves, to make themselves relevant in some way.  Something tragic could happen that leaves everyone crying, but you'll hear them talking not about the actual tragedy or its victims but of how it reminds them of themselves.  It’s like they can’t visualize a world without themselves in it.  The Earth can't continue to spin if they're not on it.  They struggle to ignore their own perspective and see things from a third person point of view, from no one's point of view.  All this comes full circle to problem solving with others.  They end up looking at the problem as a blame game and then always from the perspective of who gets what.  Why do we always get to use *your* idea? What about *mine*? There's no concept of the substance of the idea because everything is chance and no one really knows what would work.  Right and wrong is turn-based; you "get" to be right, not you "are" right - because, as far as they're concerned, everything is subjective.  The only thing fair is sharing who gets to make the decision, whose turn it is to be boss, not why any particular decision should lead to a solution.

And then if you actually do solve the problem, they ask why you made them go through the effort at all, why didn't you just solve it from the get-go, as if there was no work or effort on your part, as if you knew all along or had something they didn't rather than started at the same place to figure it out.   You hear this with excuses like "if only I had your talent" or "if only I had your skill" or "if only I had your success" as if the world just happened to bless you with the means but not them, never mind if you went out of your way to teach yourself the skills necessary or trained your whole life to build that talent.  "Things come naturally to you."  It doesn't matter that you put in a thousand hours and they balk at putting​ in just one.  Sometimes it even becomes your fault because you didn't "show them how" or "share your gifts," as if someone else had shown you or given you anything in the first place to allow your success.  They fail to understand that success is a result, not a factor, and constantly attribute results not to your choices but to what you have that they don't - your resources, your "privilege," your genes - things that no one can control, anything but choice.  They think they need more "knowledge," more "skepticism," as if these are all just quantities to increase or decrease, rather than actually try to understand what they need knowledge *of* or *why* they weren't skeptical of something to begin with.  Everything is just an ingredient that you just need to sprinkle a little bit more of, essentially a fallacy of composition [#].  You hear this manner of thinking also when people say you have something inside you that keeps you going, that if only they had "it" they would be just as motivated.  The problem is they refuse to see that what keeps you going is yourself.  If not the lack of something, they then bemoan that they have something detrimental, some handicap, some misfortune or disadvantage that only they have, which gives them an excuse to be unable to solve the problem, even if they get everything they previously asked for.  "I have pain, and you don't."  "I've struggled and you haven't."  It doesn't even matter if their perceived disadvantage is relevant.  It could actually be logically advantageous, but as long as it's the one thing they have that you don't, then it can be pointed to for their failure.  Take that away from them, and they again find something else to point to rather than face the actual problem head on.  They're always in need of something external and something more to solve their problems.  The only way to convince them to look at it differently is if they somehow stumble on the solution themselves or if they see someone else solve it but not *for* them.  You have to almost trick them into thinking they figured it out on their own or into observing it without knowing it was planted there for them to learn from.  Despite their strength of recognizing things when they see it, what they struggle to see is themselves.

All this is further exasperated when they become emotional.  While usually quite rational in their normal state, this all goes out the window when they become overwhelmed by how they feel.  Rather than sit back and observe, analyze, their first impulse is to take action to ease the pain, even if they might not know what the problem currently is and even if the action has nothing to do with the problem causing the pain.  They'll accuse or assume things and then base everything else on top those assumptions; their conclusion drives the evidence, not the other way around.  They'll look for proof of a food having been made but not of the actual poison they claim to be in it.  There could be a hundred other reasons for what they're seeing, but they latch onto the one and take it as fact.  Even when they do try to ask and communicate, they often end up giving only loaded questions [#].  It's like someone were lose something and then immediately ask you, "Why did you steal from me?"  Rather than them having to prove you stole, they instead insist you have to prove that you didn't, which is basically impossible and is again an argument from ignorance [#] (specifically absence of evidence [#]).

The more emotional they get, the more susceptible they become to biases or use of logical fallacies.  They start cherry-picking details that confirm what they want to believe, quoting things out of context, dropping or even changing details subconsciously to fit their narrative... all while generally pounding the table twice as hard with no further inclination towards a solution, perhaps not even identification of the problem but only of their pain.  "This feels bad."  "I don't like where this is going."  In a way, their behavior is almost a regression to the more animalistic side.  Behaviors can be as straightforward as eating more for comfort, smashing the tools or the machine that got them there, shooting the messenger, throwing the baby out with the bathwater...  They lack the finesse to isolate what specifically is the problem vs what is not and will more or less thrash blindly in the general direction.  It's like a dog that just barks at whatever it feels threatened by or a man that cuts off his arm just because the finger has gangrene.  You ask them, "What's wrong?" They say, "Everything."  Anything bad that happens to them becomes blurred into one giant enemy, as if everyone in the world is colluding together against them as one collective mind.  Everyone is out to get them.  There is an inability for them to truly comprehend that other people in the world are real independent actors, each with their own separate lives.  They'll punch you to hurt the other guy and try to continue a conversation with you that they were having with someone else entirely.  They can't remember the last thing you said, but you're supposed to remember every detail and thought in their life, with you being at fault for what the rest of the world does to them.  As they get more frustrated or stressed, they start assuming worse and worse things about everything and everyone that happens to be in the vicinity - someone taking from them blurs into also being a liar, also being malicious, selfish, evil...  Everyone becomes guilty until proven innocent.  Everything blurs into that general wall of unknown, which they then bash as hard as they can because anything unknown by default is bad.  It seems harmless, but they often end up pummeling people for problems with no path forward to a solution.  They assume the worst and shoot first, ask questions later.  The tragic part is that they're often not wrong; they at least identify there exists a problem, but what ends up happening if they can't see a solution is they rip at it, smash it, often making it even bigger than when it started.  It's a sort of subtle inferiority complex, where even if they never outright admit it, they feel that way and act defensive like others are always out to get them, even if it means them actually lashing out or taking from others to fill that hole (in other words, attacking out of self-defense).

Many don't even make it as far as to become aggressive and instead retreat to a more passive state, such as becoming submissive in hopes of waiting out their situation, becoming complacent to numb away the pain, creating a mental block to forget... or just outright accepting it as the new normal.  Psychologically this is referred to as learned helplessness [#], where a person might become so defeated by their pain that they won't even walk out an open door to escape it; there have been experiments where dogs were shocked so repeatedly they gave up trying to move [#] even when the pain stopped.  They may even go as far as to "own" their pain and powerlessness as part of their identity, a resurfacing of the theme of Tier 3 being obsessed with having things or being defined by their past.  It could be as simple as being proud to literally just be healthy and alive - in other words, just surviving.  Or, if pain is such a large part of their history, the pain then becomes a "part of them" and "who they are."  Imagine if just because you were born with a scar, you made your whole life about that scar.  Or just because you fell down the stairs once, your life becomes about stairs and how to make them safer.  The obstacle becomes so great that they just embrace it, convince themselves they actually desire it, rather than try to move past it.  It's almost like Stockholm syndrome [#].  The world has taken so much away from them that they again move to the one thing no one can take and define their life by it.  In a way, the entirety of Tier 3 can be represented as a very broad version of learned helplessness in that their powerlessness leads them to figuratively stop moving altogether and accept the world the way it is.  They've given up trying to shape the world and instead just want the pain to stop, so they can be at peace.

A common theme of Tier 3 is just that.  They just want something simple, basic - something they think is meager or little.  The problem is it usually ends up demanding from everyone else to make it happen.  The rest of the world is supposed to tiptoe around them while they sit in the middle of the road just wanting to enjoy the view.  "I just want a decent home and enough to eat." "I just want a place to myself and nothing more."  Never mind that there are literally billions of other people on Earth with whom you must consider.  Their response is usually, "I don't care! Just give me my piece! I won't bother anyone!" Because in their mind, it's just a matter of someone else just giving it to them, that what they want is just sitting there and being withheld from them rather than someone else having to make it happen.  It's like the kid that just "innocently" wishes for the rest of the world to disappear, so they can be alone.  That's all they want. It's not much.  Yet it literally requires everyone else to move out of that one person's way.  Again, they struggle to see from a third person point of view, the collateral effects, the actual steps required to make any outcome happen, and instead just think that everyone else is out to get them, trying to take from them what "little" they want.  They often leave others no choice but to confront them, to which they then consider themselves the victim because they believe by doing nothing they are innocent.  They're just sitting there.  It's not their fault they're in everyone else's way.  Even worse is when they are well aware that others are likely to run into them, but they continue to sit there anyway.  It's like seeing a trap but continuing to run head first into it anyway because the trap shouldn't have been there in the first place.  They can't just dodge or avoid it because "they shouldn't have to."  They frequently throw up the argument that they have the right to be somewhere, do something, but fail to comprehend that everyone else also has that same right which they must respect, that it's not just them alone in the whole world who has that right to be there or do things.  To them, a right to drink from the fountain means drinking every last drop and leaving none for anyone else.  A right to use a space means occupying the entire space to the point no one else can fit. "Help yourself to the house" means smashing through it and leaving it unusable for anyone else in the future.  It's not as if they intentionally do this; it's that they are quite literally not thinking of anyone else except themselves and the immediate outcome (not good or bad way, just literally).  It's again as if the rest of the world doesn't really exist outside of their immediate proximity and what they can see.

This frame of mind also affects their empathy [#] by nature of them thinking only from their own point of view, how they feel and how they value things.  A lot of people confuse empathy with sympathy or the ability to feel emotions at all, but we are talking about the very formal definition of actually putting yourself in someone else's shoes, imagining what someone else is going through, understanding why others are feeling or thinking, not just what (which would only be sympathy).  Most people struggle with this, no matter how caring or emotional they may be.  Even if they think they are thinking in someone else's shoes, they project their own beliefs and assumptions into the scenario.  They confuse imagining if they were someone else by instead imagining if someone else were them.  You see this often with Tier 3 assuming that, just because you're happy when they are or because you feel what they expect you to feel, it means they know why you feel that way, that you feel that way for the same reasons they would.  Conversely, they assume that just because you don't react to a situation the same way, it means you don't understand how they feel or haven't experienced it before, that if you did, you would do exactly what they would be doing right now.  Again, choice is out of the equation, and if they don't see something, they assume it doesn't exist.  This is the guy that assumes, just because you don't smash things when you get angry, it means you must not have lived enough to feel anger.  Or if you're not drooling over food like they are, it means you must have no taste.  It is like the person who tries to bribe you with what they want, rather than figure out what you actually care about, because they automatically assume you would value the same things.  Or the cynic who thinks anyone trying to be selfless towards others is actually doing it secretly for gain or to feel good, that no one is truly altruistic, because he himself cannot be.  Going back to the carrot leading example above, they have the sense that they're being led somewhere, perhaps even being used, but they just assume whoever is leading them is doing it to get or have something just as they would, that it's always for money, emotional and physical satisfaction, or other instinctive desires.  The guy who's made billions still does everything just to squeeze an extra buck from others.  Even the man on his deathbed acts only to get something.  They cannot truly fathom that someone would be motivated solely on a cause, a belief, an idea, genuine altruism, or even just sheer curiosity.  They dismiss any possibility of something more with circular reasoning such as people in power are always corrupt, people always want more for themselves, or everyone is always selfish and greedy.  Sometimes, they go as far as to come up with a perverse definition of selfishness, where if someone genuinely wants to help others or do work that benefits more than just themselves, then for that someone, doing for others itself becomes a selfish act because it's what that person wants.  "You're just as selfish.  You just happen to like work and helping others."  By that logic, if you happen to care about the world and they care only about themselves, the only way not to be selfish is to do only what they want.  It's like the kid that accuses the parent of not truly loving them if the parent doesn't grant their every wish.  All that matters is who wants something, not what the something is.  If you want to spend $1000 donating to charity, they get to spend $1000 shopping for luxury goods.  It's all equal.  Everyone gets what they want.  Again, right and wrong is turn-based; it doesn't matter what is you actually want to do, only that every person gets a turn.  The funny part is they often can see this aspect of themselves, their own subjectivity and biases, but almost as if to double down, they then assert everyone else must be the same way.  You hear this with phrases like "everyone gets emotional," "everyone makes mistakes," "it's human nature," "no one's in control."  Everyone is inherently biased and subjective, which doesn't make it okay but is just justified by the "fact" there is no other choice.  In their minds, everyone is just as powerless and unknowing, and that is just the reality of the world.

At the root of this is the fundamental but flawed belief that the world is supposed to be fair and everyone equal in some way.  They won't necessarily say it, and it's not that they can't discern between bad actions and good ones, bad ideas and good ideas.  It's that fundamentally, they believe that all things are supposed to be balanced, that no one person is more capable than another, no one person smarter than one another, every strength a person has is balanced out by a weakness, everything exists and happens for a reason.  Nothing is black and white.  Nothing is absolute.  You hear this in phrases like "no one's perfect" or "everything has a trade-off" or "you can't be right all the time" - as if the world keeps tally.  Why is everything perfectly in balance? Their answer is that it just is.  Like karma, like yin and yang.  The real answer is that it isn't, but believing it helps them live with life's imperfections, the unfairness of the world, their own powerlessness.  Where the world is not "fair" or balanced to them, they then think it is in their right to impose on or take from others to make it so.  Especially when disadvantaged, there is almost this sense of entitlement, as if the rest of the world owes them for what they don't have or can't do.  Their pain must count for something.  A lot of this mindset comes down again to a fallacy of composition [#], where one assumes that just because we are all made with the same stuff, then we must all have the same potential and therefore ought to have the same outcomes.  You hear this all the time in phrases like "just a man," "just numbers," "just 1s and 0s,"...  It again ignores what you do and how you approach things, what it is you choose to do with that "same stuff" that they don't.  The advances in genetics and other biological studies only exasperate this as people cite them for all the wrong reasons.  They start using the excuse of genetics for being overweight, for being less capable, for being less well-off, rather than looking at their choices.  Worse is when scientists actually try to explain people's minds through brain structure rather than by understanding the person's thought process.  Some I've met even insist understanding a person merely comes down to understanding biology and chemical reactions.  It's what leads to society caring more that people are just well fed and clothed rather than actually living a fulfilling life.  It's what leads to us prescribing drugs to induce comfort and happiness rather than figuring out why the person is depressed or in pain in the first place.  If you've been conditioned or traumatized to behave a certain way, their answer is just to counter-condition you instead of giving you the mental strength to overcome conditioning altogether.  Because the material outcome is the same.  You feel better.  You smile.  You're alive.  The underlying reason or problem does not matter.  It goes back to what we were saying about how Tier 3 would view anything through the lens of just wanting to satisfy instinctive needs, to feel better.  I've met some who go as far as to insist that the purpose to life is survival and reproduction, that any deviation from that is anomalous and is the real source of people's unhappiness - a callback as well to the idea of how our past defines our future, our heritage defines our purpose, what we are born to do is we are meant to do.  Choice is out of the equation.  People just are.  The world just is.

While it's easy to think of Tier 3 as the average person or lay man, it's important to be careful with these simplifications, as the Tiers are a state of mind and not where you are in society.  You can be an artist and inventor, which on paper should sound Tier 1, but at the end of the day only really be motivated by the money, attention, self-gratification, comforts/pleasures - in other words, what you get out of it rather than the actual act of creating.  You create because you want something from the world, not because you actually want to create in and of itself.  It is just a means to an end.  Without others to appreciate what you do or the rest of the world to give you something for your efforts, you would stop creating altogether.  The same analysis can be applied to anything else for Tier 3.  The true motivation is always external, not internal, and always about some sort of gain or self preservation.  You can be a math genius unlocking the secrets of the world, but your real motivation is to count better so no one can cheat you out of what you have.  You can be an explorer documenting the unknown but at the end of the day only really get satisfaction from others lining up to hear your stories.  You can be the founder of a successful company, perhaps even the top 1% wealthiest on the planet, yet still be Tier 3 because you basically trial-and-error your way through with gut-feel and more importantly tie everything you do back to your own pleasure and comfort.  God forbid, you might even still be trying to make more money after you've already made more than you'll ever be able to spend.  The biggest trait is you're happy with the way the world is and don't actually want any changes.  You're just interested in maximizing what you get from said world - your gain, your experiences, your consumption.  If anything, you want to maintain things the way they are, to make sure you don't lose what you have - essentially a physical insecurity with the world, a sense of powerlessness that underlies what is otherwise contentness.  It's when someone in Tier 3 finally gets past this and convince themselves they want more than what the world offers that they make the move to Tier 2.

Tier 2

Tier 2 is essentially Tier 3 having realized they want to do more with their life than just enjoy it, in other words a purpose.  Picture the person from Tier 3 having had 12 years fly by and then now deciding they don't want to waste another year without doing something meaningful.  Many of them wake up in this sort of soul-searching phase where they want to be something more but can't quite put it in specific terms.  Often what they want is something to make themselves more "selfless," more "virtuous," but it almost doesn't matter what it is as long as it's different from what they had before.  And then what happens is when they finally find something specific, they don't quite know how to make it happen other than give the appearance of getting there.  They'll look up every book, equip themselves with all the latest tools and methods, talk to every "expert," but the issue is when you start wanting more than what the world has to offer, there really aren't any answers - it's a venture into the unknown.  They broke free from the structure which bounded Tier 3 in a state of powerlessness but almost immediately look for structure again to cling to once out of the box, as if terrified by the void that now confronts them.

Where Tier 3 thinks something is possible only if it's been done before, Tier 2 needs to know that someone or something else vouches for it.  "Who else is going? Who else is doing it?"  In an attempt to solve the issue of subjectivity and bias, they do away with the concept altogether by declaring the world only exists as how people think it does.  Fact, in other words, is just a consensus of opinion.  Nothing is real unless others think it is.  Perception is reality.  And even on top of that, it's only perception of that perception that matters.  Consensus only has to be from the circle of people they know or think represents the world.  Society is just their bubble in society.  You see this when you back them into a corner to explain something and they start ticking off names or buzz words instead.  Rather than criticize an idea for not working in the past, Tier 2 criticizes it for lacking pedigree or credentials, for going against the crowd, breaking some rule, or being associated with someone or something "bad."  "Why would you do this? People will condemn you."  "Why would you think this? No one else agrees with you."  Some try to justify this by calling it fancy names like "social validation," "wisdom of the crowds," "crowd sourcing" - again as if having some fancy name legitimizes what is otherwise either a fallacy of ad populum [#] (majority opinion) or of appeal to authority [#] (someone said so).  Others will not necessarily say any of this outright, but the underlying assumption reveals itself by what they ask for, what they resort to doing to confirm what they know.  They'll try to acknowledge the flaws of this way of thinking, that the way they were raised impacted them, that what others think biases them, but they can never quite bring themselves to break free of that influence nor straight up reject it.  "Of course, reality isn't just what people believe - everyone knows this." But then they act and live like it does so much that it might as well be.  They'll say they know their references can always be wrong, subjective, biased, but then take action as if it's absolute truth, even defend what they've embraced like it's God-given.  They become one with the opinion they follow - opinion because if it were fact, it wouldn't need defending.  It'd hold true no matter the circumstance.

Where Tier 3 sees the world as a giant gray mass of unknown, Tier 2 sees it as black and white, where everything must have a right or wrong answer, everything is either good or bad.  You're either on the right side or wrong side, positive or negative, educated or ignorant, civilized or uncivilized, altruistic or self-serving, light or dark.  There are no sidelines and no middle ground.  Having no view means having a negative view.  Thinking nothing of someone means thinking down on them.  You can't just be neutral.  Everything is on a spectrum, the same spectrum.  Much of it is because they define everything in terms of everything else; in other words, they don't know if something is good unless there's something bad to compare against.  Their only way to make sense of the world is constantly to label or bucket things, and this consequently allows them to hold completely contradictory thoughts at times because they're not really thinking about the logic or context, just reacting essentially on keyword matches.  When it comes to things that matter most to them, there is a sense of "self-righteousness" not in themselves but in what they believe, to the point they can't seem to fathom that you could still disagree with them if you had the same knowledge, the same intelligence, the same quality of character.  If you disagree, it must then be because you're unenlightened, uneducated, or some other form of lesser label of a person.  They might even take it upon themselves to try and save you from yourself, to try to cast what is otherwise disagreement of opinion as pity from them to you.  And then of course, when they and what they believe in end up being wrong, there is shock and awe, like their entire world has been uprooted, or despair, as if the world has gone to the dark ages.

If Tier 3 was overly concrete about their world, Tier 2 overindulges in the abstract.  Tier 3's obsession with the past becomes Tier 2's obsession for labels, symbolism - things as surface-level as gender, ethnicity but also those more perceptual like social class, gestures, endorsements, status, loyalty, honor, duty.  Rather than look at what I "have," it becomes look at what I "am," what I'm a part of, who believes in me, what I represent.  Tier 3's reasoning that you do because you have talent, skill, or other traits becomes you do because you are a fighter, an innovator, a patriot, or some other group.  Trivial actions are blown out of proportion.  Arbitrary milestones and goals are constantly drummed up as life-changing and monumental.  It's not just a vote but a voice.  It's not just a statement but an attack.  It's not just walking but a way of life.  One could almost say it's a way for them to incentivize Tier 3's desire to get and have without actually putting anything on the table.  They'll give compliments, acknowledgement, titles, a job, a "purpose" - something that makes it feel like the recipient is getting value when it's actually just made up out of thin air.  It's how you end up with these lopsided deals where one person gets the actual cash while the other person "gets" a job, an IOU, or even just a promise, but it feels fair because everyone "gets" something.  It matters less to Tier 2 that you actually contribute to someone's life and more that you just publicly stand up for them, put on a show and tell their story.  The symbolism matters more than the actual end result.  In a way, they take too literally the phrase "reality is in the eye of the beholder."

Often this journey of theirs to become "more" then manifests into them taking up the same sort of leader, mentor, or public servant role they themselves look up to in order to "give back to the community" and "guide" those they perceive are still in the dark.  What's ironic is they often are still in the dark themselves, pounding the table not by repeating the problems as Tier 3 would but instead repeating what they think the goal should be without any workable plan on how to achieve it.  "Good food should taste better."  "There needs to be more freeways."  "The world should be a better place." "Learning should be fun."  It's almost as if they believe the goal itself is the solution.  You see this also when someone tries to help you, but rather than brainstorm how to achieve your goal, they tell you to change your goal.  "Have you tried *not* pursuing your goal? How do you know you're pursuing the right one?" If you were trapped in a dark cave and yearned to leave it, Tier 2 would try to help by asking, "Have you tried *not* wanting to leave the cave? Everyone else is perfectly happy being here." You hear this kind of thinking as well when they repeatedly ask for the "end goal," as if everyone was some objective optimizing robot bee-lining to some destination.  "You want to do this because you enjoy it - but why? What's your end goal? What greater purpose does it achieve? How does it make the world a better place?" Why can't I just make the world as I see fit? Why must it hold to someone else's standards or be some grand statement? It's as if they are so used to being directed and assigned a goal from others that they cannot simply want something for themselves; it has to be some milestone, rubric, statement to show for to others.  You've got to spell out what you're going to do and follow it to a tee.  They're constantly more concerned about being on the "right path" than trying to figure out the how or why to get somewhere.  If Tier 3 is shortsighted because they couldn't see past square one, Tier 2 is tunnel-visioned because they can now see the light ahead but still only know how to charge forward in the same manner they've done before.

The easiest way to tell when someone is Tier 2 is when they want to do something but then ask you what they should do.  Some I meet go into length to convince you that you should team up with them for some idea or another, but then at the end of it, they keep asking you what "we" should do.  They know what they want but have no idea how to get there.  The sad part is they usually do not realize this and think they are actually making things happen, when again they are just pounding the table and declaring their goal without any game plan or cause-and-effect analysis.  It's like they think asking the question and waiting for the answer is the work.  They usually are very good at following some set path, directing others, even doing the tasks themselves (they’re often great executors), and that may be the source of confusion as it would then appear to them and anyone else observing that they are technically doing the work to make things happen, even if the how and why come from elsewhere; the path they follow is not one they created themselves.  Despite often being the official "leader" or person in charge, when it comes to actually trying to get any sort of plan or scheming going, someone in Tier 2 will frequently ask you back whether the goal is achievable, whether we have a plan, or some other yes/no question, and then sort of "wait" for the plan to be given to them.  They might even try to sell you their idea, tell you things that are so great and so amazing, but even if you wanted to "buy" their idea, they give no indication what the action step is supposed to be, how they thought the idea would ever take off in the first place.  It's like if they could just get you to say yes, a solution would magically result.  Sometimes, if you say no, they keep rephrasing the question, like if they could just trick you into uttering the word, their job is done.  They're constantly asking if something is possible or not, good or bad, these binary yes-no questions that really do nothing other than let someone else dictate to them the answer even if the answer does not exist and cannot exist.  "I understand that no one really knows the answer, but can you tell me if it is at least possible?" They could be the organizer, the project lead, a famous artist, a successful entrepreneur, and yet they still ask you, a complete nobody.

At times, Tier 2's own underlying confidence is so unstable that they almost ask you what their conviction is through their mannerisms and body language.   Assertive statements are said in the tone of a question ("I am driven? I want to be happy?"), actions taken with one foot in and the other still out ("I'll start a company but still work full time for another").  Their smiles often seem forced while their eyes show fear.  Their heads shake no as they say yes.  Where Tier 3 struggles with a sense of powerlessness, Tier 2 struggles with a lack of self-esteem and conviction in any decision not "socially validated" (their words, not mine).  In a way, it's a harder-to-see transformation of Tier 3's powerlessness in that Tier 2 now has authoritative power and status over others but not power over themselves.  Tier 3's physical insecurity with the world becomes Tier 2's mental insecurity.   It's ironic because whereas Tier 3 struggles to think from outside their own point of view, Tier 2 goes so extreme to transcend that that they struggle to have any view of their own altogether.  They will not necessarily say that their decisions and mental state depend on what others think, but you see it in their actions, how they feel, when others pass judgement, the fear of being disapproved of or being "wrong" (even if there are no right or wrong answers).  You see this also in a person's ability to persuade and inspire.  For Tier 2, there's no such thing.  They don't believe they have power over anyone else.  "You can't change people's minds.  People's minds are already set."  Rather than change others, they change themselves to be whatever others want them to be.  There's almost this guilt that comes with actually influencing anything or anyone unless they get permission to do so.  They'd rather accept the consequences or punish themselves than become enraged and try twice as hard to succeed.  Any outburst is almost immediately tempered back down and even apologized for.  They want more from the world but without appearing to ask for more.  They want to push boundaries but without breaking any.  They want change in the world but without actually changing the anyone or anything.

If push comes to shove and they actually do have to do something on their own, what you often end up seeing the metaphorical throw-paint-on-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks but with at least the right palette of colors.  They take what's given and jumble it together so it's no longer recognizable but struggle to actually create or build with anything from scratch.  True creativity, in other words, does not exist.  Everything is always a remix.  You see this when someone tries to describe something new in terms of what already exists.  It's always "what is available?" or "what are my choices?" They literally believe that "anything that anyone does is something that has already been done in the past" (not my words, but an actual retort from someone denying genuine creativity even exists).  Where Tier 3 has to make every mistake at least once or at least see it with their own eyes to learn it, Tier 2 is like the kid who memorizes the textbook and regurgitates it.  Where Tier 3 struggles to plan anything more than 1-step ahead, Tier 2 tries to get around this by instead memorizing every 1-step plan already out there and chaining them.  They try to lead by following, and they'll defer to their use of sources and authority figures to tell them what's in front of them rather than rely on their own eyes.  Their car could be getting robbed right in front of them, and they'll keep chanting that it's impossible because they're in a safe area (and safe areas don't get robbed).  Some are so dependent on having some source that they think any source, even if fiction, is better than no source.  You see this in the inability of students as well as adults to discern whether the news they read is even real [#].  Rather than why trust it, the thinking is instead, "Why doubt it?" They are especially susceptible to mantras, broad rules, sayings - anything that tries to describe the solution to all things in a simple statement.  "Be positive."  "Avoid negative thoughts."  "Just say yes."  It's like the modern variant of magic - positivism, technology, innovation - where if you just *be* innovative, use technology, think positively, accept and embrace everything, things magically work out.  It's similar to Tier 3's fallacy of composition [#], except here it doesn't even require some quantity or amount of technology, positive thought, or other attribute - just the binary fact that you are.  Tier 2 transcends the "check every straw for the needle" desperation of Tier 3 by applying theory, but they don't bother to check if the theory is applicable or the right one - or even a real theory at all.  They struggle with having to actually make choices rather than just pick and choose them.

It's confusing enough that Tier 2 would set a goal and then ask you what to do.  More confusing is their reaction to when you set a goal yourself and they want to help.  What ends up happening is you set a goal, and they act as if you've already achieved it.  When you're trying to plan how to tackle it, they instead stand by eagerly awaiting the results.  They might even start talking about what they should do after the goal is achieved.  You're trying to figure out how to build it, and they're already talking about how to sell it.  You're trying to plan how to get there, and they're already talking about how to celebrate.  Because "that's what successful people do."  The building and planning is never visible, but the fanfare is, which is what they try to mimic.  It never occurs to them to consider what happens in between.  It's like they thought the only thing they needed to do was to believe in you or motivate you.  They'll act as your cheerleader, coach, or positive reinforcement and "tell" you to go after your goal.  Sometimes you'll catch them quoting some random proverb, something that sounds good or wise but has absolutely no relevance to the task at hand and often no real meaning either.  "How do we fix this leak in the roof?" "It's only a leak if you let it be..."  "Where can we find more talent for this project?" "Everyone is talented in their own way..." Other times they "re-frame" the issue rather than actually address it, to change the question to fit the only answer they can give - basically trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  They spend more effort trying to redefine your words to fit what they want to hear rather than actually trying to understand what you're saying.  "I don't know what your problem is, but I know I am the solution." How? Why? If you ask them more specifically for ideas or for them to actively be involved in making it happen, they ask you back instead what you want them to do and how they can help, how can they be involved - even when you've already told them everything you know.  They stand by ready to take orders but don't want to be part of figuring out what those orders should be.

And then if you do give them a list of things to do, they follow the instructions mechanically.  If any bumps on the road show up, any unknown situations that don't fit into their table of if-then conditions, they ask you for direction, halting in their tracks until directed otherwise even if it means passively letting things fall apart.  A great example is Knight Capital, where every line of authority stood idly by while the automated trading went haywire and bankrupted the company.  That event was not instantaneous.  It lasted a full 45 minutes while everyone just stood by and watched the company accounts drain.  No one in the firm pulled the plug because no one gave the order, and no one gave the order because no one above that person gave the order.  To them, the bigger crime is to overstep their boundaries and do what they are not told to do than to let the ship sink.  You hear this all the time with the excuses "but you told me to do this" or "you didn't tell me what to do if x happened."  Tier 2 refuses to act out of line without instruction as they either do not know what to do in unknown territory or refuse to bear the responsibility of having their own decisions.  They would rather be wrong with everyone else than right against majority (by their own definition, they'd be wrong because no one else agrees).  Some I've met have almost a sort of "tragic hero" complex, in that they'd rather repeatedly fail "honorably" than really solve the situation - especially if it's "normal" to not to succeed or if no one believes they would have succeeded in the first place.  They make great soldiers, managers, maintainers but are terrible generals, strategists, tacticians, architects.  A quote from Watchmen's Dr. Manhattan sums up the mindset best: "[They] are just puppets who can see the strings."  Tier 2 is the one dangling the carrot in front of Tier 3, but Tier 2 does not necessarily know where they're going or why they're going there, just that they should.

One of the key themes of Tier 2 is they're always obsessed about what they *should* do and struggle to distinguish that from what they *want* to do or why.  In other words, they want to do what they should do, and what ends up happening is that that *should* is always external.  They're trying to find themselves but are looking outwards to the rest of the world rather than within.  Tier 3's thinking the world must be the way it is for a reason becomes Tier 2's thinking that rules and authority must exist for a reason, but rather than merely accept the structure, Tier 2 tries to attain purpose by embracing it.  They'll be whatever others expect them to be, even if it's not in their best interest.  They'll make decisions on the basis that it is what "successful" or "smart" people do, even if it doesn't actually have any causal effect or any relevance to what they themselves are doing.  This works out for them most of the time as long as they are in known territory, but they struggle to do anything someone else isn't already doing.  Literally, some people have asked me, "If there's a better way, why is no one else doing it?" That pretty much sums up the mindset.  The phrase "imitation is the greatest form of flattery" is taken almost to the extreme in that they often cannot tell the difference between someone merely copying an idea vs someone who actually understands and originated it.  There is this severe inability to differentiate between what someone did and why they did it.  To Tier 2, action and intent are one and the same.  They confuse practicing with preaching, teaching with telling, learning with listening.  They study what others do but not why.  It is the aspiring entrepreneur who does everything his mentor told him but is confused why he is not suddenly successful, the teacher who just reads the textbook to class or does everything exactly as stated in the curriculum but doesn't get why the students aren't learning, the newly "enlightened" individual trying to become more authentic by reading a how-to guide.  Everything is just a choice; all it takes to become is to choose.  All this leads to a very "pass-through" nature to Tier 2 in that they channel their influences and those around them more than they channel themselves.  They almost don't know whether to be happy unless others are.  I've had people literally wonder out loud whether they're happy with their life, how to know if they were happy, and then try to find books to determine that.  It's your classic first-world dilemma whereas others are busy trying to get somewhere, Tier 2 is trying to figure out how they would even know or recognize if they got there.  The biggest danger to them is their tendency for conformity.  Even when they think they're being "different," they do so by doing things popularly known to be different-esque.  If the people they surround themselves with or look up to take them in the wrong direction, they really have no way of knowing until they meet someone else who tells them otherwise - essentially blind leading the blind.  They struggle to really make a distinction between what's genuinely true and what's just perceived true by those around them.

That gets at the heart of the issue for Tier 2 in that, whereas Tier 3 sees the world as balanced and unknowable, Tier 2 sees the world as already fully discovered and laid out, that the answers are there if they just follow the right path, act the right way, believe the right things.  Everything is just a belief system, even logic and math [#].  One plus one is two only because everyone agrees on it.  It's like the living personification of "it's the thought that counts."  If Tier 3 were to prescribe drugs to treat depression, Tier 2 thinks it sufficient to just tell someone to be happy, to convince them that everything is okay by looking at things differently.  The reason therapy works is there is a world the person wants that would make them whole.  All you're doing is lying to them to convince them it's already here, but if it's not, the person can only believe the lie for so long before seeing with their own eyes that it isn't true.  Even Tier 2, unless they live an extremely sheltered and cushioned life, will eventually come to see that the guarantees they thought existed in life are not real.  I've lost count how many people I met in the last couple years (just something about 2015 or 2016 I guess), where within months of meeting me they would either quit their jobs or dump everything in their life to go soul searching.  About half of them eventually face a harsh reality check as they realize there are no "paths," no right answers, no rules, no guidance.  It's almost as if Tier 2 only wandered out of the box of Tier 3 on the promise from someone else (a leader, a book, a belief) that they would be guided through the unknown, but that fear of the unknown never really left.  When that promise is broken, there is a panic and run for the nearest source of familiarity, structure.  Often, they can't even visualize what it is they're running from, what is that worst case scenario, yet they are more afraid than someone facing death.  That unknownness itself is perhaps what scares them most.  It's as if Tier 2's fear is of true actual independence, of a world with truly no bounds but also no assurances.  They did their part, submitted themselves and gave themselves up in full to their beliefs, everything they were *supposed* to do.

In a way, Tier 2 has a false sense of selflessness in that they confuse it to be absence of self in the process rather than absence of selfishness.  They cite an external authority for every thought and action so that they never act alone and, in a way, are never responsible.  That authority can be someone important, some important sounding label/concept, some metric or stat, some theoretical model, or it can be just consensus of popular opinion - as long as there is something to point to as the source for their action other than themselves.  Then it's not their fault whether the underlying reason is wrong because they're only following the word of some respected figure or idea, which they treat almost like God.  They may even cite science as their source, but they regurgitate the words, quote the mantra, rather than explain the substance.  It's as if, in the attempt to become more than themselves and remove all bias, they let go of themselves entirely, their individuality, their own judgement and ability to reason.  If Tier 3 had to see a car move to believe it, Tier 2 would actually see it and still not believe it until everyone else does.  They take false comfort in thinking they cannot technically be arrogant or self-centered if they're always vouching for someone or something else rather themselves.  In a way, that's even worse than arrogance.  It's like the guy who crosses the street on a red light just because everyone else is going and then gets mad at the crowd for making him almost get hit.  Even when that person alone is the one explicitly taking action, it's "we" did everything together and then "we" all made the mistake together if that person ends up in the wrong.  They are almost subconsciously too selfish to own their choices, to do the work of thinking through the right and wrong of their own decisions.  They delude themselves into thinking that, by removing themselves from any decision entirely, they become virtuous and selfless.  What they don't understand is that selflessness is not a subtractive concept but an additive one. It takes effort to be selfless. It takes action and assertion to care about things other than yourselves. When you run from responsibility, you are acting only to keep yourself safe from blame and error - the same drive for self-preservation that you claim not to have. It takes selflessness to put yourself out there on your own intent at risk of bearing full responsibility for being wrong and you alone only.

Tier 2 effectively confuses non-participation with participation, passivity with assertion, inaction with action, neutrality for affirmation.  It's the same reasoning that would try to achieve happiness by choosing not to be unhappy, to solve greed by removing all desire, to create world peace by eliminating all life.  It is minimal effort just to achieve a technicality, to be technically correct by abstaining from the process or ignoring context.

As mentioned previously, no one would ever admit much of this upfront nor might it cross their mind to really think about what they would do, why they're really doing things.  Often their excuse is that they know how things *ought* to be but that in practice you might as well assume otherwise, and that is the point - they act and make decisions so much on perception, even when their life is at stake, that it might as well be that they see it equal to truth.  You could have an artist who is very creative in his work but bends to every opinion and judgement about whether his work is any good.  You could have the best problem solver in your company who struggles to deal with his own problems in everyday life because he needs to be given the pieces, the parameters, the box.  It doesn't even have to be good people.  You can have someone who's a thief but who has a code of honor.  In the end, the defining aspect is that Tier 2 is a person who has figured out what they want, or at least that they want something more than the basic life or instinctive desires, but they don't quite know how to get there and resort to external references to guide them.  They see the light and are inclined to follow it, but they struggle to generate their own from within.

Some notes on Tier 2 vs Tier 3:
On the surface, it's easy to mistake Tier 3 for Tier 2, and sometimes it's tempting to say someone is a mix of both.  Tier 2 is more or less Tier 3 with the addition of having figured out what they want, and often, they may still carry residual traits from Tier 3 that contradict what they're trying to become.  This shows especially in times of stress.  What they end up choosing during these moments is how you know what really motivates them.  It's the deepest underlying motivation that matters rather than what the person portrays outward.  Some may appear Tier 2 but are instead Tier 3 who gradually layered themselves into Tier 2 behavior to still satisfy what are otherwise Tier 3 motivations; you see this when they regress to Tier 3 traits of self-preservation or self-centeredness if pushed or broken down because they don't truly believe in their cause or ideal as a real Tier 2 would.  The difference is between someone who has goals/beliefs for the sake of having them (the Tier 3 trait of wanting to have things to define their self-worth) vs someone who actually genuinely believes that's how the world works (complete lack of self, for better or worse).  Similarly, both Tier 2 and 3 may dwell on failure or weakness, flaunting their misfortune or tragedy so to speak, but whereas Tier 2 genuinely thinks they fell for the right cause, Tier 3 deep down is seeking more the attention of others to feel better or the sense of having something to define themselves by - again the difference between Tier 2's lack of self vs Tier 3's self-centeredness to appease their desires (comfort, feeling better, etc).  Lastly, whereas Tier 2 may genuinely lack of self-esteem to believe their own judgement, Tier 3 may appear that way but in actuality still believe in themselves; they just lack the confidence to show it or willingness to stand up for their opinion, such as in the case of peer pressure.  This is different from Tier 2's actual complete conformity.  Put very bluntly, Tier 3 is suppressed while Tier 2 is brainwashed.  Tier 2 acts because they genuinely believe, whereas Tier 3 acts more to satisfy how they feel or because they feel forced to.  Tier 3 will feel power in numbers whereas Tier 2 feels power in righteousness, their beliefs.

Tier 1

A person in Tier 1 often relates more to a person in Tier 3 than with Tier 2, likely because both have more the concept of the self than Tier 2. Tier 2, in its effort to become more than just themselves, unwittingly give themselves up altogether to become almost empty. Tier 1, on the other hand, becomes more than themselves by embracing both themselves and the world around them.  They become more by not only acting in self-preservation but actually expressing themselves - in other words, exerting their will on the world.

Many people misunderstand what self-expression means.  They confuse it with expressing how you want others to see you - more or less narcissism.  Narcissism is not self-expression.  One can exist without society.  The other is meaningless without it.  One shapes the world in their image; the other just wants their image to be seen.  Unfortunately, this subtlety is lost on many.

Unlike from Tier 3 to Tier 2, there is no real progression from Tier 2 to Tier 1 because almost by definition, you cannot be taught to become Tier 1.  It's an understanding of both the world and yourself that you must come to realize on your own.  At its core, it's about authenticity, which you cannot learn from a book or from someone else.  It's about the drive and tenacity to pursue what you really want unconditionally to what anyone else says or does.  What you want is solely that in and of itself, not because of what you'll get out of it or what others think.  If you write a book, it's because you care about the story, not because what you gain from selling it or the satisfaction of others reading it.  If you like a work of art, it's for the art itself, not for its prestige or how you personally relate to it (it's not about you).  Even for people, liking someone or respecting them is for who the person is, for their character, not for their status, what they have, or their willingness to let you into their lives.  The world neither revolves around you nor has to let you in.  You chart your own path and travel it, not because of who else takes it or the promise of what's on the other side, but because you want the journey itself, the chance to explore what's out there and see how far you can go.  My personal belief is that most of us actually start here, naturally curious and just constantly wanting to understand all that goes on around us, but that we lose this mindset over time as the pressures in life build up, like it's beaten out of you as you get older or get faced with your own mortality.  It is effectively a strength of mind, a test of one's independence, the ability to hold your own and keep true to yourself no matter what external influences bear down on you.

It's easy to misinterpret Tier 1 as someone who thinks they can do anything, are always right, or that as long as they think to do something, they can achieve it.  That would actually be more in line with Tier 2.  Where Tier 2 is more about having figured out the goal, Tier 1 is strictly about ability to achieve it - in other words, results, which again is similar to Tier 3 but with the addition of being able to see what's not been done before.  It's not that they think they can make it happen; they do make it happen.  No one is saying that they can do anything.  You see it with your own eyes.  It almost doesn't cross the mind of someone in Tier 1 to think about whether or not they can do something; they're too busy thinking how.  Tier 1 is the person trying to build the ship to set sail while everyone else is still debating the existence of the water.

Most people are replaceable.  Things get done with or without them.  If not them, then somebody - anybody - else.  Tier 1 is the opposite, often the single person keeping something going, the glue that holds a group together, the one person who if gone would cause everything else to stop - whether others know it or not.  They are the architect, the visionary, the inventor, the explorer, the auteur of reality.  There is this strange notion that everyone has a specific role and skillset, that you're either the idea guy (Tier 2) or the guy doing the grunt work, the development, the labor (Tier 3).  Tier 1 is the guy that can do both.  People hate to think that it's possible (why wouldn't it be?), and denying it is a way they justify their limitations but perhaps more so their existence, to not face the reality that not every person necessarily has a role or adds value, that their effort or opinion might actually not matter at all.  We like to think that everything is a "group" effort, but more often than not, there is a key person who without there would have been no group to begin with, who without the entire thing unravels.  You see this truth in companies that go into decline after the initial founders are gone.  You see the flipside of this when different "leaders" get swapped in and out but the operation never changes; someone else is running the show and the "leaders" are just the puppets, the figurehead, the disposable face.  It's not about who looks in charge or who runs around the most.  It's who starts the causal chain, who sees the whole picture, who pulls the strings - sometimes from behind the scenes, sometimes in plain daylight.  Tier 1 is the person who created the road on which Tier 2 is leading Tier 3.

A central piece to all this is Tier 1's ability for seeing things with clarity.  They may not formally know the logical fallacies [#] or the theories behind deductive reasoning, but they can detect it when something doesn't make sense or if someone is resorting to biases to make a case.  It's easy to misunderstand Tier 1's use of logic by assuming the stereotype of someone who only believes what they see, the atheist or the skeptic who needs evidence for anything to exist, but that is not Tier 1 at all.  It is actually Tier 3, which is very similar in that they can be very logical as long as they see it in front of them.  The difference is that Tier 1 is willing to consider anything they don't see either as long as it doesn't violate logical reasoning.  Many things, even God and superstition, do not violate logical reasoning.  They just lack evidence.  It's unknown, not false.  The similarity though is why Tier 1 is easy to confuse with Tier 3.  They both see it; Tier 3 just can't see past it.  Tier 3 is blind to the abstract, the politics and meta-level games people play, the what-ifs.  When it comes to the unknown, they fall into habit of remembering patterns, repetitions of the past, in order to guide them into the future.  At worst, they roll a die and defer to chance, which gives them the false assumption that something is random and has no cause at all.  Tier 2, on the other hand, relies on 3rd party verification of what's before their very eyes, like a driver who blindly follows GPS even off the edge of a cliff [#].  As long as their source is correct, they'll look like geniuses, but they'll never actually be able to dissect their own success or create something truly new.  What's unique about Tier 1 is they are able to essentially able to see what's before them with their own eyes, with no overlays, without resorting to memorization of the past or reliance on outside parties.  The labels, theory, authority, research - all of those are only intermediary layers between you and the truth, the source behind which everything else comes from.  It's like the difference between attacking a base at some location because of evidence it's always worked vs attacking a base at some location because the doors are wide open.  Tier 3 is reacting on the past, that the door is usually open.  Tier 2 is waiting on someone to tell them the door is open.  Tier 1 can actually see that the door is open.  There is no chance.  It's all cause and effect.  If you don't know something, you figure it out, but you don't blindly trust someone else or prescribe it to probability.

Others would often criticize - how do you really know or figure something out?  How do you know what's logical and what's not? Tier 3 would say you're just ignoring your own ignorance, inexperienced, naive... that you never know what you don't know, but from what do they draw that conclusion - from the "fact" you can't always be right or that you never truly know anything to begin with (because they don't).  Tier 2 would ask how you know unless someone tells you, unless you have sources, a theory, something to guide you, not understanding that whether or not they have external "3rd party" verification doesn't make something any more or less true.  Many people misunderstand logic to be a belief system.  It's not what you believe.  It's whether how you think is consistent, whether you can go from one thought to the other without contradicting yourself or skipping steps in the causal chain.  It's not magic and it's not some hand-waved truth that everyone just agrees on.  It's figuring out the reasons something occurs or might occur, verifying it by testing it, and then having back-up plans for alternative outcomes.  There is almost not even a sense of being "right."  Tier 1 doesn't care.  Being right is about everyone else agreeing with you.  For Tier 1, it doesn't matter if anyone else agrees.  The world doesn't spin because everyone thinks it does.  They know what'll happen because they set out to make it happen.  For every step along the way that might fail, there is a plan B, a plan C, whatever it takes to ensure the end result, not from being right but being prepared.  Tier 1 is not necessarily smarter or more gifted (again, an excuse someone in Tier 3 would have to suggest things beyond their control).  It has nothing to do with success or social status.  It's about what you really want, what you really care about.  Do you want the comfort of feeling good about your action? Of knowing that the action you take is "time tested" and shown to work? Of knowing that others are at your side vouching for your decision, perhaps even ready to take the blame if things don't work out? Or does none of that matter to you in the face of actually achieving your goal? When things go wrong, where is the source of the pain? Is it because of how others might perceive you? That you let others down? Or that you let yourself down?

It's like the guy who claims they want to make the world a better place.  If that's what you care about, then why not take the harder road and make it happen behind the scenes? Why make a show, bash against the obvious wall to draw attention, rather than dig beneath it or take the longer way around? Because you only want the idea, the feeling of making the world better, the story.  You don't care enough to sacrifice yourself.  It's easy to find purpose by creating conflict.  It's harder to give yourself one without fanfare.

Tier 1 will often be mistaken as aloof or not caring for the reason they tend not to make a big show of things unless it's relevant.  Tier 3 will mistake Tier 1 as either not knowing how to enjoy life or being in denial of basic needs and emotion.  It's basically the point of this whole discussion that Tier 3 does not see how anyone could want something more than just feeling good in life, to want it enough to effectively ignore all other desires.  Tier 3 might counter that they also do plenty of things too, but the point is when it comes to sacrificing one or the other, it's always the other that gets sacrificed to make their life more comfortable, secure, or pleasurable.  For Tier 1, the enjoyment in life comes almost solely from pursuit and achievement of what they want.  Obviously, they still have to eat and sleep to avoid dying, but the satisfaction from that is virtually nil compared to what they're after.  It's not that they don't feel what Tier 3 feels; it's that there's something Tier 1 wants all that much more that it dwarfs everything else.  Tier 2, on the other hand, will mistake Tier 1 as being uneducated, abnormal, illegitimate, unprofessional, or other words for what is just disdain for non-conformity.  Who is this guy who thinks he can just do what he wants? Who said he could? Who gave him the right? No one.  It's not that Tier 1 is blind to the politics.  Quite the opposite; they may even play the game themselves, pull the strings they see necessary, to get what they need.  But at the end of the day, they simply don't care what anyone else thinks or what structure is in place.  It's not that they hate it or are anarchists; they just don't care.  They're not out to destroy or support it.  They're neutral, agnostic.  And they don't need anyone else's permission or blessing because they can see all the variables, the cause-and-effect, to get them where they need to go with or without anyone else.  It's not that they're all knowing or innately more talented.  It's that there is always a way.  The limitation is what you're willing to do, not what you're given, and for Tier 1, they're willing to do whatever it takes.

If anything, Tier 1 often ends up being more caring and considerate than one would expect, if only because they actually try to understand you and go out of their way to help, but you have to give them a real reason to care and not one ridden with fallacious thinking or emotional appeal.  Some might counter that a truly caring or considerate person would not need a reason, but while Tier 2 may claim to be friends with everyone yet only go out of their way for family or closest inner circle, Tier 1 will often go out of their way for complete strangers as long as the person is sincere.  Their ability to see through things is both a gift and a curse.  For most people, just having someone there or verbally supporting you is enough.  The actions being helpful matter more than the intent being otherwise, often because they cannot separate it.  For Tier 1, the true intent and underlying reasons matter more than the action and perception.  They can see when someone doesn't actually understand but randomly throws in keywords just to look the part, when someone shows up to symbolically care but every opportunity is spent trying to get away, or when someone puts in the effort but doesn't shed a tear when things catastrophically fail.  In a sense, it's worse than if the other person did not help or care to begin with.  There's a fundamental aloneness to Tier 1, and many people may see that as a negative, a flaw.  Why wouldn't you want people around you? Why would you want to be a lone wolf? But it's not as if Tier 1 intentionally makes things this way.  It's more that they refuse to willingly deceive themselves.  If my greatest joy is building a city from scratch and yours is in how much money you'll make or what people will think, there is no bridging that gap; we are not sharing the same joy or experience.  If we're neck-to-neck in a tennis match and you suddenly quit because you're just clocking in your daily 60 min of exercise, we're never playing tennis together again; we never were.  It's easy to misread Tier 1 as being antisocial or hateful of people in general, but it's more that Tier 1 is unwilling to pretend most people really care or understand, when instead they see that very few people would go out of their way when needed and even fewer would do it for the right reason.  Despite influencing the lives of many others, there's an innate acceptance that there is no one in the world who could ever really help them if they truly needed it - not just to comfort or be there but to actually think up a plan and make things happen, to help push things forward rather than just get pulled along.  If they walk away, everything stops.  Their dream dies.  There's no one to save them.  It's a grim reality, but for Tier 1, they'd rather be unhappy with the truth than happy with a lie.

If Tier 1 had a latent fear, it would be fear of the fact they only have one very limited life to live.  It is this same fear that drives them to push the limits of both themselves and the world around them no matter where they started or what they started with.  There is simply not enough time to waste on wishing life was fairer or that they started off with more innate ability, privilege, or other benefits beyond their control.  There is not enough time to pity yourself or to try to drum up your own pride just to feel better.  Some would apologize for their failures; others beat themselves up.  Neither gets you closer to your goal.  It just satisfies your emotions - to get acceptance from others, to vent your frustrations (even if on yourself).  If you really wanted something, how could you waste the time? It should make you angry enough that you already lost time in your failure.  They could spend their life trying to make the world more equal, to fight an otherwise abstract and inanimate enemy, or they could claw their way through with sheer wit and perseverance - because there's something they genuinely want above all and nothing could ever steer them away from it.  It is this same fear that deters them from making decisions on emotion, bias, or fallacy.  They don't have time to deal with lies from others, much less themselves.  The longer they deny the truth, the less time they have to pursue their dream.  It is the fear the opportunities they see will vanish if they don't act quickly enough.  It is the fear that they might not live long enough to see their dream happen.  There is no starting over no matter how badly life screws you up.  There is no next time.  It's always now or never.

It might seem like Tier 1 is driven by negative emotions - fear, anger, distrust.  It's more that they just have every emotion unfiltered.  In Tier 2, you're not allowed to be angry unless everyone else is also angry.  How is that even anger? You can't voluntarily shut it on and off.  In Tier 3, emotions just spew aimlessly.  You can vent, smash things, protest and riot, all to make yourself feel better, but you're not angry enough to actually do anything useful with it.  Instead, you willingly accept that your emotions are a weakness but justify it by believing everyone is that way.  What leads to the perception of Tier 1 not caring is that even in the most stressful of times, they can be fully focused and not venting.  If anything, Tier 1 becomes more focused in times of crisis, not because they ignore the emotions but because the fear of what they want slipping away becomes that much more real, the anger at themselves for having allowed the situation to get this close to the edge and them never wanting to let this to happen again.

What Tier 1 wants is to turn what they see in their mind into what they can see in the real world.  They see all the pieces in action, all the steps that result in the finale, and they see no reason it can't be made a reality.  It agonizes them that it isn't real already.  This can be a desire to create something the world's never seen.  It can be a desire to explore the unknown.  Or it can be as modest as building a community, starting a movement, designing a piece of art.  The overarching sensation is such that the world as most people know it is not enough, is too limited, too empty when it has no reason to be.  It isn't enough to simply have more, get more, or be more.  Those goals all imply an end, a point of satisfaction.  At some point, you have enough; at some point, you've made it.  What Tier 1 realizes is they can always push themselves further; there is never an end.  Why would there be? It is choice that leads one to decide when something starts and when something is finished.  It's practically irrelevant.  In a paradoxical way, what Tier 1 ultimately wants is infinite, to push until even they can no longer see what lies ahead.  They live for the thrill of each surprise, each step further beyond the boundaries of the world they were born into, because the world is their playground.  It's free for the taking and Tier 1 can't grab enough of it.

This intensity of desire is what separates Tier 1 from the others.  There is no accepting the world as it is, as Tier 3 would.  There is no waiting for guidance, for structure, for someone to tell you how to get there, as Tier 2 would.  If you truly wanted something, nothing could convince you to accept anything less; you'd rather die.  If you truly wanted something, you wouldn't dare trust someone else or some unknown process to get you there; you'd have to see it through and know it was going to happen.  Every minute you wait is another minute gone from your limited time on Earth.  Every piece you trust to someone else is another piece left unknown and open to failure beyond your control.  There is no such thing as a guarantee ever, and everyone knows this deep down - it's just that most don't care enough to wade outside their comfort zone and essentially be alone.  If you truly wanted something, you wouldn't be able to stand the uncertainty of not knowing logically cause-and-effect what gets you there, of not knowing the absolute truth that you *will* get there and how.  That itself is more uncomfortable than any physical or emotional pain.  Faith is not good enough.  You need to know for sure.  And the only way to do that is to become your own god.

It's easy to mistake someone for Tier 1 if that person's seen what they're up against before, if they know what they "should" do.  A Tier 3 with sufficient experience to draw from will be indistinguishable from a Tier 1, and a Tier 2 with the right rule set and mentors/guidance will also be indistinguishable from a Tier 1.  It's when things are unknown, when the world is stacked against you, or even when they have everything in the world and don't need to do anything anymore, and they still keep going, not for self-preservation or some blind belief they have to, not because someone encouraged them or because someone else spited them, but out of their own choice, because they want to, that's when you really know.  Do they shape the world or do they let the world shape them?



Reference Point, Identity, and Truth

Where one draws their reference point is one of the defining differences between the three Tiers.  It is one and the same as how one defines identity and reality.  

For Tier 3 and 2, the reference point as well as what defines them is external, controlled by others and their environment.  For Tier 3, even though they focus on what they have or get, it is their past experience that defines them, perhaps because from Tier 3's perspective that's all they really have that no one could ever take away from them (the world is not in their control).  Resumes, heritage, backgrounds, etc are all derived from this point of view.  The phrase "I am my father's son" aptly illustrates this thinking style, in that one's identity and all future potential are all essentially predetermined from the day they are born and just out of technicality is a circular definition.  Faced with their own mortality (when they die), the only other thing they value more than their past is their children - it's the only thing they will still have once they're no longer on this Earth.

For Tier 2, their status and associations define them.  Reality itself is determined by what everyone else thinks.  Truth and fact only exist because everyone else believes.  They are who everyone else thinks they are.  Their identity and their label in society are one and the same.  Rather than do things because of x years or experience, it's because they are x label or that's what you're supposed to do.  I serve because I'm a patriot.  I respect people because I'm a humanist.  I love my children because all parents love their children.  He kills because he's a murderer.  Just as Tier 3 is susceptible to bias on the past, Tier 2 is susceptible to who they consider their circle, the people that represent their world.  The same logic can lead to otherwise unethical behaviors, not because the person is trying to be a bad person (very often, they're well-intentioned) but because they genuinely think it's okay.  I cheat because everyone cheats in school.  I don't pay tax because no one wants to pay tax.  Like Tier 3's reference point, it easily becomes circular logic.  They can never answer the question why they personally do something, just that they're supposed to and everyone else does.  It's always because of what they heard from some authority, some source, some study or data...  It's basically a different way of accepting the world as unknown by creating reasons that hold no meaning.

For Tier 1, the reference point is internal.  Who they are and how they see things are determined solely by their own internal metric.  In a sense, they have no reference point.  Their intentions are what define them.  For that, they are often criticized for seeming arrogant or not humble enough, if only because what they think is true cannot be swayed merely by what happened in the past or what others say.  Tier 3 would wonder how someone could think they're right so many times in a row, as if that alone means a wrong answer has to be coming next.  Tier 2 would wonder how someone could think they know better than the majority, ever.  How can you think you're right when everyone else says the opposite? What seems to be missed and what matters most to Tier 1 is the substance of the argument.

You can see a lot of this in action just by how someone compliments people.  Tier 3 would say you have skill, talent, luck - in other words, what you have.  Tier 2 would compliment who you are, your label, your associations.  You did well because you're a good student.  You're successful because you went to some good school.  Who you are almost predetermines your results.  Good things happen to good people.  Tier 1 drills down specifically to what you did.  You made smart choices, performed well on tests, outsmarted the instructor.  It seems trivial, but it shows in how children are raised.  Imagine a child complimented on doing well at school vs one complimented on "being" a good student or "having" skill.  What happens if they start struggling? The former starts examining what they're *doing* wrong.  The latter becomes concerned what's wrong with themselves, what have they lost.  Are they no longer "good" students - good *people*? Do they no longer have what it takes? By emphasizing who they are or what they have, focus is taken away from what actually causes the problem and what might lead to the solution - the choices one makes.

A lot of this comes down to how a person structures their thinking process, what actually goes on in their mind when they formulate a thought.  Tier 2 thinks with words, language.  This sounds normal, but if you think about it, it doesn't seem quite right.  That means the language determines what they can think or perceive.  Yet this idea is so ingrained that you can actually find debates online and in academia on whether it's even possible to think without language (see my earlier essay [#] on this).  A lot of the time, they might not even actually process the meaning of the word.  You notice this when you say words to mean one thing but someone uses them in a completely different context, when people copy the hyperbole they hear but don't seem to realize it's not supposed to be literal, when idioms are used to sound good but the imagery makes no sense.  Because they aren't actually processing the meaning.  They react more to the sound of "no" than what it is no to.   This factors a lot into why they struggle with doing anything outside the box, why they struggle to improvise or do anything without authority, rules, structure.  They've trained themselves to react more to the words, the rules, than to the substance.  In a way, by trying to think only in words, they subject their entire thinking process to structure - they are literally letting the external world dictate what goes on in their minds.  The prevalence of this mindset is what lies at the heart of stories like 1984 or movies like Arrival, the idea that if language is controlled then so is thought, that if we could just think differently or have a more open language all the answers would be unlocked to us (even things as crazy as time travel).  It doesn't make sense to anyone who doesn't think in language in the first place.  Tier 3 is more similar to Tier 1; they think with their instincts, feelings, and senses so that they are not bound by what words they know, but for Tier 3, they are still limited by their imagination being very concrete and based on the past.  It's harder for them to imagine things abstract, especially things they haven't seen or experienced before, and when it comes to that, they also start to think in words because they can't picture the abstract meaning behind it.  With Tier 2 and 3, you'll find they often look at what you say rather than what you mean.  You see this when they quote you, misinterpret what you were trying to say, and then try dictate what you *really* meant based on the words alone even when you, the source, deny it.  They don't bother to ask what you really mean because it doesn't matter to them in the first place.  The words hold more authority than the person who said them.  Tier 1 essentially thinks without structure, just pure thought, in pictures if you will (see Hear the Pictures and Not the Words [#]).  You notice this when a person has a thought and then has to go through extra work to find the words to what they're thinking.  The thought comes first and the translation comes after.  In a way, such a person has no primary language; every language is secondary to how they think.  What someone says is always a second layer to what they're thinking, and Tier 1 is interested in that layer behind the words.  If something is unclear, the most logical thing is to ask the source what they meant, and at no point does what they say hold more weight than what they're trying to say.  Again, I think most people are this way to begin with, but they lose sight of this over time or get into a habit of letting the structure mold their thoughts.

Another way to see this is from the angle of how the three Tiers perceive truth.  For Tier 3, truth is always subjective because you only really know what you've personally witnessed.  As a result, they become susceptible to biases like hindsight or logical fallacies relating to slippery slope and repetition of the past; they just generally lack ability to extrapolate beyond what they already know (until they experience it themselves).  Nothing is true unless you see the proof, the evidence, the data.  Absolute truth, in other words, is unknowable; you are always biased.  When they don't know something, they prescribe it to chance and guess based on the odds, gut feeling - they speculate rather than seek out the truth.  Everything becomes a series of patterns, actions done just because that's what you do or that's what happens rather than *why*.  Their biggest flaw is their misunderstanding of randomness, in that they assume it is objective and unbiased to assume things they don't know would follow the laws of probability - in other words, to assume things they don't know are random.  Imagine if your doctor just told you that they don't know why people with your condition die within 5 days but to assume it's random with a probability of 1% happening.  It gives you a false peace of mind because the chance is so low, but as soon as you find out your condition is caused by lead in your water, it's clear your chance was 100% as long as you kept drinking that water.  This is the same flawed thinking that keeps Tier 3 in an essentially powerless state because they assume randomness of all the world they do not know and therefore give no effort to control or make sense of it.  In a way, this reflects the inherent belief of Tier 3 in that they think most things in the world "just happen" or "just are" anyway, implying there is no cause in the first place (everything is just random).

For Tier 2, truth is always relative; it depends on the situation and what others think at any given time, how it compares to everything alongside.  The best example is someone who says you can't know if it's good unless there's something bad for comparison.  Nothing has meaning in a solo.  I've had people seriously ask and discuss whether they would have been happier in life if they had more tragedy or traumatic events to make them value everything else more highly.  That is because they value and define everything in terms of everything else.  They have no internal sense for what they want or what something ought to be.  Naturally just by how they perceive truth, Tier 2 is susceptible to logical fallacies [#] like appeal to authority, ad-hominum attack, and especially equivocation (where the definition of what you're talking about changes mid-sentence to tie together things that have nothing to do with each other).  When they don't know something, they just answer with the closest thing associated, even if logically unrelated.  They say maybe or whatever it takes to just be technically correct but beside the point, yet then act as if it's an absolute truth.  A yes is a yes even if it is to the wrong question.  Logic itself is just a theory that people just happen to agree on.  I've literally had some ask me, "If fallacies are real, why doesn't everyone avoid using them?" Tier 2 is not as shortsighted as Tier 3 but more because they blindly trust what others say than because they actually see the truth themselves.  The subject can be completely unknowable, something that no one would ever be able to prove, perhaps even blatantly false, but as long as an authoritative figure, some book, some model said it, Tier 2 would still believe it.  It's like a real-life version of "The Emperor's New Clothes."  It almost doesn't matter whether the source is even actually of high status or representative of the majority, just if it appears to be; the perception is more important than the reality.  

For Tier 1, truth is always objective, and you figure it out to the best of your ability through logic.  Whether you're there to witness it or give your approval, the world continues to move forward regardless.  And if you don't know something, you leave it unknown in your book, neutral.  You don't guess or assign a default value, not even random.  It means you don't act on what you don't know.  It doesn't mean you don't prepare for the possibilities, but you don't charge forward.  It seems obvious, but again we're talking about what people show through their actions and not just what they say.

You see this dynamic in schools, students, mentoring.  Does a student behave because of fear of pain (either from punishment or conflict), because the rules say you're supposed to, or because he simply has no desire for the trouble he'd cause? This is the difference between those who say what they learn is true because the world just works that way, because the book said it, and because of specific reasons they can enumerate all the way from square one.  And if they don't know, they admit it rather than speculate or regurgitate a phrase that they hear but don't understand themselves.  Tier 3 confuses learning with repetition while Tier 2 confuses learning with just listening, teaching with just telling.  To Tier 3, intelligence is just a quantity of experience, while to Tier 2, intelligence is what you know and recite.  For Tier 1, intelligence is the ability to create from nothing.

A Function of Power

Another way to visualize the three Tiers is as a function of power - power being the ability to direct the world, others, and oddly enough themselves.  Here, we're talking not about leverage but about actually getting people to willingly join your side, do as you intend - the strongest form of soft influence.  Tier 3 has no real power, largely from their ignorance of all the influence and politics around them.  They may have wealth, resource, or status, but power in terms of influence over the rest of the world is largely absent.  Tier 2 often has authority and status but is always beholden to someone else for their power, whether it be constituents, investors, or the people that got them to where they are (mentors, etc).  Their power is given to them externally, and that's the way they see it - that power is something that's always given to you by those who have it.  Tier 1 is beholden to no one. Their power may be soft or absolute but is most importantly self-generated.  They may pretend to be beholden to give others a sense of control but can break out any time they see fit.  There is always a plan B to keep them in play in anything that happens.  The only people that can stop them are other Tier 1, not because they depend on each other but because it becomes a battle of sheer will and vision, gods each fighting to shape the world in their image.

Most people have a core circle of people that they get direction from or depend on for their thoughts and decisions, no matter how hard they guard it.  Poke them hard enough or let push come to shove, and it eventually becomes clear where their external motivation comes from, and this is the power or influence over them we are discussing, which can be seen in the form of an inner circle.  For Tier 3, this inner circle is tied to their usual sense of having and getting by way of ownership, what they feel "belongs" to them, and by extension, their past.  It creates a two-way street where what they feel belongs to them most also has the most influence on them.  The inner most person is first themselves; it's the one thing they can know with certainty is fully theirs and at the same time makes them feel most obligated to serve and defend.  It seems redundant, but Tier 2 actually does not have this, at least in the same sense, due to their "selflessness" syndrome.  The clearest example of the subtly is that you can sway a Tier 3 person by giving to or taking from them directly, but a Tier 2 person might sacrifice themselves for things completely unrelated to anyone's wellbeing, such as an authority, an idea, etc.  The next ring over in Tier 3's inner circle is then people is people they feel "belong" to them - family, friends...  Yes, it makes sense to care about your friends and family, but it also includes people they feel they straight up control, keep under their thumb, or have had the longest time shared history with (because that person is now part of their past, which they "own").  Much of this comes from how they perceive the self and identity in the form of ownership, in that anything they own or associate as "having" is part of their identity, part of themselves.  It's "my family" or "my friend" and therefore part of "me."  Their identity and self-worth are defined by what they have, what belongs to them.  Anything that gives to the inner circle is equivalent to giving to them directly and vice versa with anything that takes away.  This is sometimes made fun of by stories like the enemy that almost cares about you if only because you are "their" arch-nemesis and no one else's.  Where this inner circle becomes a vulnerability is when they treat it so much like a part of themselves that they almost don't question it, just like how you don't really question what you yourself want or need.  They'll do things "for their family" or "for their friends" without further reason, when they'd at least take a step back and consider why if it were anyone else.  Tier 3's inner circle is probably easiest to visualize if only because it is very stereotypical and common-man.

For Tier 2, the inner circle is those who taught, mentored, or made that person who they are today - the people whose opinions they care about most.  It's different from Tier 3 in that they don't necessarily care about the well-being of these influencers, and they most certainly don't feel that they "own" anyone (if anything, they are perpetually indebted to their influences).  It can be people in their past but also just people they respect or worship, whom they may have never even met.  They could live their lives by a book, and the person that wrote that book ends up having most power over their lives even if indirect (lifestyle on the more harmless end, religion on the more dangerous).  More often it's a set of ideas that they believe to be unconditionally true, but they fail to realize it is a person who planted those ideas.  It's easy to misinterpret this as Tier 2 being uncaring, but we're not talking about what each Tier cares about.  We're talking about who or what has the most influence and power over each Tier, and it is this that we define as each Tier's inner circle.  In both cases, this inner circle ends up being a potential liability in practice as the person would trust this inner circle almost blindly and without question.  They need the external influence to give them confidence, but it also becomes a vulnerability because that same external influence can destroy that confidence.  What gives them power is the same as what can take it away.  Perhaps subconsciously this is why the circle is guarded closely.

Tier 1 though has nothing to hide because they have no such circle.  Their core is internal.  They may surround themselves with people as a buffer between themselves and what they do, but that buffer is ultimately disposable.  Some could see this as having Tier 2 be the figurehead while Tier 3 be the work force.  A lot of times, Tier 1 will let others *feel* in control or make themselves *seem* predictable, either by intentionally being emotional or having some artificial character flaw.  Perhaps they might pretend to be dumb or ignorant on a topic, perhaps even have a false phobia or vice, just to see what others jump on and are assuming.  What this allows Tier 1 to do is know what others are thinking if Tier 1 were to behave a certain way, essentially having a reverse lever or switch that triggers others to behave as Tier 1 expects.  If anything, it gets people to drop the guard if Tier 1 appears to be incompetent and only achieve what they do through help or sheer luck.  It's essentially a form of redirection, to distract the viewer with one hand while orchestrating with the other.  What is harder to see and is the important part is that Tier 1's directive comes from them alone.  The flow of power and influence is one directional.  They are the originating source for their ideas, their choices, their confidence.  What they do and why ultimately depends on no one else, even if they make it seem otherwise.  This is not to say that Tier 1 is uncaring of anyone.  It is that, even if you've known them for 1000 years and even if you had 10 PhDs, they'll weigh the substance of your opinion on its merits just as they would with anyone else.

You see all this play out in the power dynamics between the Tiers.  Tier 3 essentially has no power over others, except through sheer force or physical advantage, because to them, any soft power or influence only happens in the world by "chance" (which we know could be an illusion).  You make friends through chance meetings.  You live through significant experiences together through chance.  To push things their way requires either direct confrontation or some "uprising" of numbers on their side.  You either pay or you take by force.  There is no puppetry.  Tier 2, from seeing that the world is based on what others tell them, inherently understands that it is people who dictate things.  They can at least deduce that it could be them on the other side of that table.  That's how they end up being in power over those in Tier 3.  What they are limited to doing, however, is copying what others do or say they should do.  Hence the imagery that they can see the strings but are still puppets.  They know their world innately is being defined by others but can still only control others by what others defined for them.  In other words, their methodology - the how to do things and consequently what's possible - is their Achilles' heel.  They are stuck doing things based on what the book says, what their mentors have taught them, what is popular belief... They may want to travel faster but they'll only incrementally improve the car rather than make it fly.  If it were the 1900s, they would be trying to train faster and faster horses rather than experiment with the automobile at all.  That said, whatever they do learn, they end up perfecting to a tee.  It's just dependent on what it is they end up being exposed to.  They might become very good at incentivizing Tier 3 with reward/punishment.  They could also become very good at manipulating the emotions of others.  They'll master any technique, but the one thing they don't do is actually try to figure out why it works.  They just know it does.  They essentially become very proficient at the game they are in but never think to change the rules.  The one who creates the rules is Tier 1.

At the heart of this is how each Tier views what power is and where it comes from.  Tier 3 believes that power is born into.  You are either born into wealth, born with natural talent, favored by fate and destiny, blessed by God, or some other uncontrollable force that alleviates them of having to think their way out of their lack of power.  If you weren't lucky enough to have it from the get go, then that's too bad.  "Life dealt you a bad hand."  The only way you get through the world is by giving or taking, but you need to have either the goods to give or the means to take.  That's all they see.  The politician has power because he promises to give representation to his constituents.  The king has power because he controls the army.  The businessman has power because he has the money and resource.  They essentially only believe in hard influence based on physical advantage and don't think much of soft influence - where someone willingly would side with you for nothing in return.  It might as well be that, for all intents and purposes, real power doesn't exist.  No one ever has real control over anything, just edge or advantage which can easily disappear.  This naturally bleeds into other social beliefs, such as the idea that if you're better off, you're almost obligated "give" back because others are not fortunate enough to have what you have but also because you don't really own anything - you just happen to be lucky.  It's the phrase, "With great power comes great responsibility."  You just happen to have power; it's not yours to keep.  Funny enough, Tier 2 would actually believe they have to give back if they perceive it to be what most people believe.  They may even believe that you have to give to get someone to do what you want (quid pro quo), if that's the only methodology they were exposed to.  The difference is what leads them up to these conclusions.  For Tier 3, they see the exchange as people wanting the goods.  For Tier 2, they see the exchange as people wanting the respect and favor of the other - in other words, an exchange of power over one another.  Tier 2 thus believes that power is given, and as a result, they have more sense of control over their own fate than Tier 3 does because if power is given, it can thus be earned from those that have it.  The social structure is there for anyone to climb, but you must play the game and meet the right people to be given your place, your status, your influence.  It's essentially a higher-level version of Tier 3's giving or taking, in that power itself can now be given or received.  It's subtle but where Tier 3 is willing to take when the opportunity arises, Tier 2 much prefers exchange, to give to receive, almost like a need to never upset anyone (unless again everyone agrees that person is worth upsetting).  It's what hinders them from really moving forward because for every step forward, there is this need to give something else up to balance it out.  They take too much to heart the phrase that "you can't have your cake and eat it too," to the point they actually ignore win-win possibilities.  Tier 1, on the other hand, bypasses all of this completely; they create their own power.  Often times, they are the ones who created the structure for Tier 2 and 3 in the first place.  If born into unfortunate circumstance, they fight their way out of it and figure out whatever it takes to get where they want to go.  They are the architects, the strategists, the masterminds.  There may be others who help them along the way, but the directive comes from themselves, the idea and the plan is their own.

In some ways, it almost seems like society is purposely engineered, even conditioned, into the Three Tiers so as to have the laboring class and the servant class ready to go (the servant class ironically having power over the laboring).  Tier 3 is so caught up with short-term getting and having that any carrot-and-stick methodology puts them in line to do whatever work you need done.  Tier 2 is so desperate to be doing the right thing that they'll offer themselves up completely to serve whatever authority presents itself.  The former is driven entirely by personal material gain and can only see from their own point of view.  The latter gives themselves up completely and becomes without any view whatsoever, except to support whatever views those around them have.  One won't bite the hand that feeds it.  The other is begging to be that hand.

Responsibility and Taking Ownership

The essence of Tier 1 is they realize there's more or less no one else in the world they can count on but themselves.  There is no fallback guy, no parental figure to take care of you, no mentor to guide you, no leader to follow, essentially no god.  To other Tiers, Tier 1 is often mistakenly seen as stubborn or too arrogant to admit when they're wrong, but that comes more because Tier 1 alone decides if they're right or wrong based on their own criteria and depends on no outside source.  If anything, Tier 1 knows what it would take for them to change their mind or convince them they’re wrong.  It, however, never crosses the mind of Tier 2 or 3 to consider the possible cases for right and wrong; for them, you’re just stubborn if you don’t change your mind when some supposed authority sides against you (Tier 2) or that you’ve been right too many times to think you can be right again (Tier 3).

For Tier 2, there is essentially a denial of the problem itself.  When things fail, their first thought is that it's not their fault because they were doing what they were supposed to be doing or what someone told them to do.  The actual end result almost doesn't matter.  A great example is in poker when someone loses a hand, perhaps even the whole game, but then justifies that they did the right move according to the odds, some book, or other set of rules.  Even more hilarious is when they say it wasn't their fault but yours, because if you had a certain hand, you were supposed to bet a certain way (according to some book or theory).  Another is in the stock market, where a PhD-wielding analyst might lose money but then actually say it was the market reaction that was wrong, not their analysis.  What this prevents them from doing is ever bothering to examine whether anything could have been done differently to succeed because, according to their own rationale, they already did the "best" possible (literally no better way to approach it).  If they did the best possible and they failed, then the problem was unsolvable and there was never a solution to begin with.  They almost don't want to re-examine anything because that would actually admit wrongdoing in a world where only perception matters.  It goes hand in hand with how they perceive truth to only be what everyone else thinks it is, so to fix things in real life, they virtually just try to change everyone's opinion on it.  Deep down, there's also the sense that it's not their responsibility do anything other than to execute what they know, to follow the protocol to the letter and nothing more, sort of like carrying out the word of God (whether that be what they've been taught, instructed to do, or some other form of authoritative construct).  Anything that goes beyond their duty is "not their job."  Anything that goes wrong is just them "doing as they were told."  They almost do not own their actions because the directive always came from elsewhere, like the phrase "don't shoot the messenger" or soldiers insisting they only carried out the orders of their general.  The results don't matter as much as how close they did what they were "supposed to do."  I did the right thing, said the magic words; it's just that nothing happened when I said them, which is not my fault.  If anything, they're the victim of being too good in a world not good enough to be worthy of them.  Very often, they'll still apologize or "take responsibility" for whatever mistake they do, but in the very next sentence, they'll contradict themselves by saying they either had no choice or that it was someone else's fault.  "I'm sorry I broke your car, but it's your fault your car was so easy to break."  "I take responsibility for my team's failure, but it wasn't me who screwed up - it was everyone else."  When there is no one else to formally fall back on, what they often end up doing is resigning as if that solves the problem or shows leadership.  They do it because they're "supposed" to, even if the problem they resigned in response to remains and even blows up.  It sounds surreal, but just follow news on businesses and governments to see how often leadership resigns rather than actually deal with the problem.  They say they resign to take ownership, but what they're really doing is assuming someone else will step up to own the problem they left behind.

Tier 3 is much more straightforward.  For them, the problem is acknowledged but responsibility is denied.  Tier 3 likes to criticize when others can’t get stuff done, but when it’s themselves, it’s because the task either just wasn't possible to begin with or it's not their fault because they didn't have the knowledge or ability - which is basically another way to say the former; fate, life, whatever didn't give them the ability to make it possible.  "It's not my fault - I had no choice!" "I didn't know!"  It's like the guy who spins around with a giant backpack and hits someone, but it's not his fault, it's the backpack's.  Or like the guy who blindly tramples a child while trying to get his lunch and then complains he just wants the world to leave him alone.  They are often oblivious to the unintended consequences of their actions, side effects, collateral damage, etc - especially when it affects other people.  Problems always just appear; Tier 3 never considers what might have been a consequence of their own actions.  They'll rip a tree from the ground by its roots just to get the fruit and then complain about starving the next day.  Like Tier 2, this keeps them from actually looking at other ways they could have succeeded, but it's less because they believe there is no solution (which Tier 2 does) and more because they believe they have neither the means nor ability to pursue one.  There is this sense that a lack of power or choice absolves them of responsibility.  The more cliche example is someone trying to justify stealing because they have no other way to make ends meet.  It's not so much that they really only care about themselves as much as they believe they couldn't do better even if they tried.  If they already "tried their best," then they can't possibly try harder.  It's again the larger-scale version of learned helplessness [#] previously mentioned.  The door could be wide open, but they wouldn't even try to walk out anymore.  There is also a more subtle belief in Tier 3 in thinking that by not doing anything, it exempts them from responsibility of the outcome; they can't be at fault for doing nothing.  Like with randomness, they assume that doing nothing is neutral and "safe."  They are neutral, doing nothing; they have no obligation, no fault, nothing that can be blamed on them.  They struggle to appreciate that a person taking action or making decisions is the one actually bearing all risk and taking responsibility.  It's not so much malicious intent as much as it is just genuine feeling and belief.  Whereas Tier 2 thinks they did is literally best possible in the world, Tier 3 thinks they did the best they personally could, which they know might not be the best possible in the world but is the best possible from them (aka they tried).

The best illustration of the three Tiers is when disaster strikes.  Tier 3 is the first to jump ship to save themselves, not because they don't care but because they have no confidence they could save the ship.  In their minds, there's no sense sticking around if they can't contribute the end result, and they might as well save themselves while they're at it.  Tier 2 almost willingly sinks with the ship, if only because that is what society says you're supposed to do.  They'll say they did everything correctly like they were supposed to even if they and everyone else on board end up dying.  Tier 1 would be the one actually trying to stop the ship from sinking (assuming they cared - but this whole essay again is assuming everyone is equally well-intentioned).

Fundamentally, Tier 3 only really cares about themselves (and/or their closest friends/family) while Tier 2 only cares about how they are perceived.  This is not so much selfishness as much as it is the rest of the world not really being "real" to Tier 3 and only perception being "real" to Tier 2 - sort of like not caring about that kid in Africa even though there is real suffering going on.  This has a greater effect in situations where one has to choose who lives or dies, who wins or who loses.  In a more complex version of the sinking ship example, if not everyone had to die and it came down to either saving their family or saving the president, Tier 3 would choose their family, even if it were during a time of war and it meant the country goes down.  Tier 2 would save the president not because they necessarily care about the country but because it's what they're supposed to do.  The reason the subtlety matters is because if it came down to anything more complicated than "choosing," where it's not clearly measurable or perceivable, then everyone just straight up dies together, just like in the last example.  To put it bluntly, Tier 3 would sacrifice the world for themselves and their friends/family while Tier 2 would at least look like they're doing the "right thing," even if they still let the world fall apart.  Again, it's not so much selfishness as much as what is "real" to them.  Neither are trying to get more for themselves.  It's that Tier 3 fundamentally feels no ownership or responsibility to anything other than themselves and Tier 2's sense of ownership only exists if they feel other people perceive it to exist.

One could say the perception of ownership or responsibility is directly tied to each Tier's sense of power.  If you have no power over the world, then you don't own it and have no responsibility to it.  If you have power over the world but it only comes from others, then you only own it superficially and your only real responsibility is to who or what gives you that power.  The interesting question comes for Tier 1 - where if you have power over the world but it comes from no one, then how does the question of ownership or responsibility apply to you? It doesn't.  Tier 1 can own and be responsible for everything or nothing; it depends on what they want, what they choose.  There's no guarantee.  Perhaps that is what scares people and is why all the social structure and pressure exist.

Fundamental Values, Morals, and Ethics

At the outset, we pointed out that Tier 3 doesn't really want anything other than to survive, Tier 2 wants something more but doesn't get how to make it happen, and Tier 1 both wants and can make it happen.  A lot of this stems from fundamental beliefs of what you should value in life and what is acceptable.

More specifically, Tier 3 doesn't want anything except to feel good - in other words, pleasure and comfort.  Much of what they want is concerned with "getting" things or "having" things - things being material but also experiences.  In their mind, there is nothing wrong with wanting nothing more than what life already offers.  Going nowhere in life is fine as long as in the end you are "happy."  One could say that the underlying values of Tier 3 is hedonistic.  What you end up having in a broader social context is that someone in Tier 3 would often only really look out for your needs, emotions, or health, sort of like the guy who thinks everything is alright as long as you're alive.  There is a disconnect if you want to communicate more abstract goals and aspirations that don't lead to further pleasure, comfort, money, or other needs.  If you gave unlimited time and resource to Tier 3, they almost wouldn't want it because they wouldn't know what to do with it (they can only consume so much).  The same goes for when things are not going your way; rather than focus on what went wrong, Tier 3 would often focus on how it feels - the pain.  In that situation, they're the poster child for misery loves company.  Whereas Tier 2 may want to find a greater purpose in society and Tier 1 wants to shape the world, Tier 3 more or less just wants to be left in peace - in other words, a theme of complacency.  

Deep down, Tier 3 believes that everything should be equal, things should be fair, life should be balanced (note: should, not is).  It is not so much about everyone being equal in value as much as it is about everyone having the same toolkit, the same potential and therefore no one idea or action is worth more than another.  It is the same notion behind "everything has strength and weaknesses" or "all things are created equal."  It comes from the obsession Tier 3 has with the past, with their origin.  Everything shares the same origin.  All life is composed from the same matter.  All people share the same DNA.  And therefore no one is better than another because for every weakness a person has, it is balanced with an equal strength.  But if that's not the case, then it's nature's fault (or some other big unknowable thing) and there's nothing that can be done about it.  That's just life... until it's me, and then my pain should count for something.

Fairness for Tier 3 builds off this assumption, that everyone is built from the same "equal" stuff, by then asserting that everyone's time, resource, and effort are all weighed the same and therefore everyone should have the same outcomes.  You see this when someone says, "but I tried," as if their effort, their pain, has to count for something no matter what.  It doesn't matter whether they used their time productively or wasted blood and sweat getting nowhere.  I spent just as much effort planting this rock as you did planting that seed, and I therefore deserve equal treatment and outcome.  Tier 3, for better or worse, doesn't really have a true sense of right and wrong, only fairness.  And fairness for Tier 3 only exists materially (in other words, materialistic fairness).  The only thing that matters for them is the material outcome, not the intent or reason behind it.  It's always centered around someone getting something rather than why they are getting it, what happens instead of why it happens.  It's like the guy who thinks they can get away with a crime by just paying off the cop, the regulator, the witnesses... As long as everyone gets a piece, what's the harm? Cheating, stealing, lying... are all okay as long as no one finds out or is physically hurt.  Conversely, it's always okay to take from those who have more, always okay to "stick it to the big man" or discriminate towards those with better circumstance, because at the end of the day, they're still better off than you - that end result of where you are, what you have, is the meter for fairness, and as long as someone else is still better off than you, then you're in fact the victim, not the imposer.  In a sense, you can almost always "fix" Tier 3's unfairness by giving them something or making them feel better, even if the original problem that got them there never is addressed.  Again, it's like the father that tries to give you money or food to cheer you up even if you've just gone through the most traumatic experience of your life.  You're rich, you got your reward - what does it matter what happened to you along the way? "Look what you have! You should be happy and grateful; some of us are not as *lucky*."  

What actually leads to the outcomes, the reasons for one's actions, and the intent behind what each person wants are all disregarded because they're abstract and can't be seen or quantified.  The only thing that can be seen is what each person ends up getting or having, where they end up materially and physically.  If everyone started at some state A together, they should all end up at the same state B regardless of what happens in between.  You see this with old "friends" that come out of the woodshed only after you're successful.  They spent most their effort throwing doubt on you before, but once your efforts pan out, it becomes "why did you leave me behind?" They start demanding the same outcome because they see themselves as having had the same childhood, same education, the same material starting point.  Sometimes they try to use a butterfly effect argument where they claim, if not for you having met them, all the things you ended up doing subsequently might never have happened, and they therefore deserve as much of the outcome (unless it's bad of course, then it's every man for himself).  It's the same kind of argument as the father who says he gave you life, your genes, and therefore owns your life and everything you do.  If I weren't there to tie your shoes when you were little, you would have tripped and died, so you owe me everything you do afterwards.  What happens when they're not around, the details they can't see, your individual choices, don't matter.  The only thing that matters is what you have, and therefore fairness is based on having the same results for the same "ingredients" you have rather than what you do with them.  It goes hand in hand with their view that power is born into.  You deserve something because of where you started or what fate gave you, not because of what you do or how you do things - because by the former logic, all of that is equal anyway.

Following that, Tier 3 then assumes that what everyone wants is equal and should be treated the same.  Everything is fair as long as everyone equally gets what they want, no matter what it is they actually want.  It's again because, at least in Tier 3's world, you can't see or measure what people want; therefore, you should just treat it like everything else unknown in the world - random, equal weighted, and following a normal probability distribution.  Like with randomness, they assume that making something turn-based is fair, as long as everyone gets an equal turn, regardless if that turn is used to benefit others or self-indulge.  When it comes to someone doing something illegal or wrong (cheating, stealing, etc), Tier 3 doesn't care so much about the wrongness of it as much as they care that someone else gets to do it and they don't; if they get to do it too, then it's fair and everything is okay.  Racism towards one race is solved by reverse racism towards the other.  If society still had slavery, Tier 3 wouldn't so much try to stop it as much as make sure they get their "fair" turn to own other people as well.  Their solution to greed is not to end it but to instead be greedier than anyone else so they come out on top.  In other words, two wrongs make a right.  It's because of their belief that no one truly knows anything, what is right, what is wrong, but rather than address that uncertainty, Tier 3 assumes it's impossible to know and that the only thing fair is to let everyone do the same.  They disregard what a person's intention is because it is abstract and in Tier 3's world might as well be non-existent; the only thing that matters is what people get materially.  A person wanting resource to build the world is equal to a person wanting resource to destroy it because until it happens, you don't know what they might do - the intent or even outwardly stated goal of the person does not matter.  It's not so much that Tier 3 is wrong about not knowing (because it's absolutely true that you do not know for certain what people might do), it's that Tier 3 does not value intent whatsoever; nothing matters until it happens.  A person trying to kill you, until he succeeds, might as well be weighed equally to a friend trying to save you because nothing's happened yet.  Promises, chain reactions, future consequences, underlying reasons are all abstract values non-existent to Tier 3.  Part of it is again their subjectivity in the sense they only see how things affect them from their own personal point of view and not what happens in the rest of the world.  You see this especially when it comes to rule making or policy decisions, where choices are made in almost a land-grab fashion for their own self-preservation with no regard to how it affects everyone else or even their own future.  Eating the last seeds on Earth is okay as long as they're the ones eating it, even if it actually dooms themselves as well as others.  The only thing that matters is the present scoreboard, the current state of things, what they see everyone having materially here and now.

Those are extreme examples, but the consequences of this play out in more subtle ways on more everyday situations as well.  Consider, for example, a person who happens to like work and another who only cares about the money.  If we just base fairness on people getting what they want, then one person "gets" to do the work while the other "gets" to spend, which under this view is fair because everyone "gets" what they want and what everyone wants is equally weighted.  Similarly, if one person wants to help the other and the other wants to help only themselves, then letting each one do just that would be "fair" in this system.  It's like saying it's fair for a kid to never do anything while the parent does all the work in addition to doing what the kid wants, just because the parent cares about the kid.  You get to cook because you love to cook, and I get to eat because I love to eat.  You get to sow the seeds, and I get to reap the reward.  You get to make the product because you like to make things, and I get to collect the check because I like money.  It's all fair because everyone gets what they want.  Tier 3 tries to start with the assumption that everything is equal and then stretch definitions around that to fit that - everyone is just as flawed, just as biased, just as kind but also just as selfish.  Definitions get stretched to the point they become meaningless.  Good and bad have no meaning because everyone is just as good and just as bad.

Tier 2's underlying value system, on the other hand, is more utilitarian, by nature of their reference point being driven by what everyone else thinks.  This naturally leads to a tendency for conformity, as they are often relying on majority or popular opinion.  What they end up wanting and what they value as a result often ends up being what they perceive others want of them or what society values highly.  Put in another way, if the society didn't exist, they wouldn't know what they want or what to value.  An action or opinion is better only if more people back it or an important person backs it, regardless of what the actual truth or result is.  The amount of social taboo associated with thinking one person or one idea can be fundamentally better than another just on its own becomes almost a mental block to them actually being able to identify legitimately better or worse, smarter or less intelligent, capable or incapable - unless of course it becomes the consensus, in which case throw all your hate and fury at it if it's bad and worship it like God if it's good.  In a way, Tier 2 only has ethics but no morals, not because they are immoral but because they can only discern right and wrong by what others say and not by what they feel internally.  Often times they'll do things just to play the part socially but lack the intent or underlying authenticity.

The bigger problem with Tier 2, similar to with Tier 3, is their inability to discern intent - the why something is good or bad.  Tier 3 ignores intent in favor of material outcomes, the state of everyone getting from A to B and having the same physical results, no matter how they get there or what abstract values are lost; Tier 2 ignores intent in favor of the action taken, of how everyone gets from A to B, but almost dismisses the importance of actually getting to B.  Simply put, it is only the action that is good or bad, not the intention nor the result.  They just know that you're supposed to do this or not supposed to do that, but they don't understand why the rule exists or what it was meant to solve.  They can't grasp that people care more about why you did something than what you did.  You see cases of this when someone violates the spirit of the law but then nitpick that they didn't actually do the exact wording outlawed.  It's like if there was a law outlawing cash to sanctioned countries and your excuse was you gave them gold, not cash.  If it's bad for a boss to ask personal favors of their employee, they are unable to extend to the idea of anyone with power extorting someone of lesser status (or anyone extorting anyone else period).  The only thing bad to them are the keywords "boss," "favors," and "employee."  If you try to press them on why something is bad, they'll say because it creates a bad perception or because it's illegal.  If you try to press further than that, they'll cite cases where people got in trouble or caused trouble doing those same actions, but they'll struggle to actually identify the intention that led to those actions as the root problem, rather than just the action itself or specific situation.  It's bad because of who did it or what they did, not because of what the person tried to do or why.  They'll warm up to a guy that gets labeled a hero for accidentally saving them, even if that guy's outwardly stated mission was to kill them and still is.  They'll hate on an unpopular figure actually doing good, even if that person ends up saving the world.  It's as if things are only good or bad if people perceive it - that is, an action is only bad because of what others will think of you, and an action is good only if others recognize it.  A phrase I've heard others say and aptly represents this is "it's only bad if you get caught."  Whereas Tier 3 is blind to ill-intent using unfair methods to create "fair" results, Tier 2 is blind to ill-intent using otherwise fair methods to create unfair results.

Tier 3 will have a hard time believing that anyone could really think this way, but if you were to shine a light in Tier 2's head, you would find that they genuinely believe the things they follow, that they actually tell themselves what they tell you.  They genuinely want to do the "right thing," but the issue is their definition of it depends on those around them.  An easy way to picture it is they want to do the "right thing" but lack the "right reason."

Tier 1 is the opposite.  Tier 1 effectively has no ethics, only morals, by nature of the lack of regard for what others think; their right and wrong is determined internally and not by what society decides.  The closest theory that represents Tier 1 would be Kantian.  It doesn't mean that someone in Tier 1 is heartless and doesn't care about anyone else though; it means that they think of everyone else in terms of each person's intentions and desires - their will.  If you care about someone, you care about not only their comfort and physical wellbeing but their goals and aspirations.  This ends up requiring you to know yourself as well as those around you at a pretty deep level.  You cannot simply assume others will be happy with hedonistic pleasures, and you cannot simply assume others will be happy with what most people are happy with in the utilitarian fashion.  Those familiar with the theory will know the key tenants are the concepts of dignity and the categorical imperative.  Dignity is what we just described as thinking of each and every person in terms of their intent, their will, their life, independence, autonomy - all aspects of their dignity, each invaluable, incomparable, priceless, and as a result regarded equally.  However, it's important to distinguish between the person (defined as their dignity) vs their ideas, their actions.  While Tier 1 innately sees every person as equal, it does not extend to every idea being equal, every action being equal, or every person being equally competent/skilled.  A person may do good or bad, but the person himself is not good or bad.  A better way to think about this is that every person is equally immeasurable.  No one person has the fundamental right to impose on another or judge one life more valuable than another.  In other words, you cannot put a price on a human life.  It is a very different sense of equality from those who often say everyone is equal but in the sense they try to measure, value, or weigh everyone to equate them; it's what leads to one group trying to impose their sense of fairness on another, one human life being sacrificed for the pleasure of the many.  Meanwhile, the other main piece of Kantian theory, the categorical imperative, is often misunderstood as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  What the imperative actually calls for is for you to think whether it works out if everyone behaved or rationalized things as you did.  The difference is subtle.  The former suggests you go out of your way to unconditionally help others, even if they completely disrespect or disregard you.  The latter suggests you look at the bigger picture of whether everyone unconditionally helping others even makes sense.  First, you'd have to convince everyone to do so and not cheat.  Second, no one would actually want anything except to help others, creating a circular loop where no one really wants anything to require helping in the first place; you want to help others but others only want to help others who also only want to help others.  The only thing you really have with Kantian theory and effectively Tier 1 is yourself, which goes back to what we've been discussing with reference points and identity.  The best you can do is not impose on others, to give everyone equal respect as an individual, as you go about your life.  That requires strong considerateness of what others want and the clarity we discussed earlier to know the far-out consequences of your actions, as well as what cannot possibly be a result of your action or inaction (rather than just assume some level of probability as Tier 3 would or go by popular opinion as Tier 2 would).  There is no authority other than objective truth and logic, which can be both freeing and isolating.

Perhaps what bothers the most people is Tier 1's approach to right and wrong being based on intent - basically the expression of one's will, the dignity described previously.  Following the previous chain of thought, right and wrong only really applies on what your intention is at the beginning of a causal chain, and like before, this makes it difficult to just hand-wave something as good or bad.  As an example, if you go with the intent to help someone but at the end derive more satisfaction from them acknowledging your help (or worse, a favor in return), then you are in the wrong because the real reason for your actions did not align with your intent.  It's the lie, the insincerity.  Similarly, if you don't bother to understand that person and aren't actually helping them get where *they* want to go as opposed to where *you* want them to go, you are again in the wrong because you are not actually trying to help them.  That's the easy stuff.  The parts that scare people are the lack of hard rules to "force" people to be "good."  On the flip side of the previous example, if you never intended to help someone, there is no justification that says you are in the wrong for not doing so.  Where it becomes wrong is if you care about them and want to help (deep down) but don't.  In other words, you can't judge what someone wants, what they intend, what they choose.  You can only judge on if what they do is consistent with it.  Again, we're talking about the root intention, the beginning of the causal chain, the deepest why to their actions - not choice made as a result of something else.  This gets around the philosophical view of what is "good" and what is "bad" by basing it all on alignment with what you and others want.  For most things, there is no such classification - it is just neutral.  The tree falls - that might sound bad, but here it is basically meaningless unless it went for or against someone else's will.  Even someone dying is not necessarily good or bad; most things are just neutral.  People become fearful of this view because then even if you kill someone, then that is not necessarily wrong.  What if someone just *wants* to kill someone? Then technically it's okay because that's what they intended! But that's exactly the point about how Tier 1 sees things.  No one ever *just* does something.  That's the action taken because of a deeper intention, a deeper reason.  If the person thought that someone was a threat but wasn't, then that person is in the wrong, just like with any other view.  If the person thought there was no other way but just didn't think hard enough, then again that person is in the wrong.  What about things like "revenge?" "Religion?" "Insanity"? If you haven't noticed by now, Tier 1's thinking is all about specificity.  You never justify anything with some broad sweeping label, concept, or theme.  If it's revenge, what specifically was the harm to you and what do you hope to get out of it by taking the revenge? For most situations, there is nothing that gets resolved with revenge, which ends up again aligning with most viewpoints.  "Killing him won't bring your loved one back."  You want revenge on someone who hurt you, but all justification goes down the drain if that hurt was unintentional.  Sure, you can reprimand him for being incompetent, but you can no longer use the excuse that he went out of his way to hurt you.  Action alone never has meaning.  The need for intent goes both ways.  That's perhaps the real catch all here.  In addition to what we already discussed about no one person having the right to impose on the will of another, the wrongdoing, the act of imposing, only exists with intent.  It doesn't mean a well-intentioned person who hurts another is not in the wrong, because from the previous logic he is not aligning with his own desire not to hurt others, but it means he is only negligent.  If you then impose on his will assuming otherwise, then you are just as in the wrong, if not more so.  It doesn't mean the person doesn't have to answer for his negligence, just that you have no justification to impose on him because yours would be intentional whereas his was not.  Their wrong does not give you freedom to commit a wrong yourself.  Many people say this but don't fully comprehend it.  It means a person has the right to be wrong.  You don't have the right to change them unless they want to be changed.  Think of how often someone is judged, lectured, or patronized for being "ignorant," "uneducated," "uninformed."  For most people, you are doing the other person good by "enlightening" them.  Here, you have no right unless they want to learn.  They have to want to change.  But if someone does want to improve and what you are doing, even if cruel, gets them there, then it is justified.  And if someone is intentionally imposing on you and the only way to stop it is to impose on them, then it is justified.  It's easy to mistake this as "the end justifies the means," but at no point do you have the right to impose on others along the way unless they also want the end result or are imposing on you.  Each person must be accounted for case by case.  Then it is justified.  It is justified so long as you are not mistaken in your assessment - in the absolute sense, not given what you knew at the time.  In other words, you and you alone bear full responsibility for the correctness of your action and judgment.  That's what makes this thinking style very difficult and scary to most.  People are reluctant to mentally walk through this chain, so you often hear kneejerk good or bad judgments on the action alone.  It's easy to get stuck part way, not see any other underlying reason for what is otherwise a terrible action, and think the person is "just" crazy or "just" evil.  For most, there's almost a mental block to letting your mind even consider when stereotypically terrible things, even as terrible as genocide, can be "right" depending on circumstance.  For Tier 2, it's because they fear being caught in the middle of that chain "trying" to justify a popularly bad thing and then not having the means to defend themselves against being judged.  For Tier 3... well... they can't see past square one.  That and as you hear quite often, no one really "knows" what could have happened, what really would have happened, unless it happens.  The hardest part and perhaps why most wouldn't want to live by it is that you can do all the "right" things with all the "right" intentions and still be in the wrong.  It doesn't mean intent and action don't matter in face of results; it's that intent and action are the bare minimal requirements before you even consider results.  Some people care but don't do anything.  Others only do to show that they care.  Even more don't make sure the results actually matter.  The point here is you need all three - the right intention, the right action, and the right result.  For Tier 2, you're safe as long as you followed the rules.  For Tier 3, you're safe as long as you tried your best.  For them, being "good" is a choice.  For Tier 1, it is not in your control, and most people don't want to live with that.  In some ways, Tier 1 is inherently existentialist.

World View

For Tier 3, the world is rigged against them; it's every man for himself.  For Tier 2, the world always has winners and losers; it is zero sum and quid pro quo.  For Tier 1, the world is whatever you make it, an open sandbox.

In alignment with their sense of powerlessness, Tier 3 effectively sees the world as unknowable, that it is forever beyond your reach, and that the best you can hope for is to carve out your piece of it and be left alone.  They create constructs like chance, luck, fate to hand-wave away what they cannot control, but at the same time, they subscribe to this false belief that things are naturally balanced, fair, or linear.  There has to be a natural order.  All things happen for a reason, even if that reason is unknown.  Things are always meant to be.  Everything is gray.  Nothing is absolute.  Nothing is perfect.  Every strength comes with a weakness.  Why? Just because.  Their biggest mistake is assuming things they do not know must be random and follow the laws of probabilistic chance, as it then leads to them calculating things as if there were no cause to begin with.  They think that just because they've been wrong or relied on luck before, they might as well assume they'll be wrong again and rely on luck going forward.

Tier 2 sees the world as still fundamentally unknown to them but known to others, that they themselves might not have the answers but someone else does, that their world may be dark but somewhere else it is lit, and they want to be part of that, want to be the best student there is of this thing that is greater than they alone could ever be.  For them, there is this underlying assumption that the world has been fully discovered, understood, and that all they have to do is open their eyes and ears to take it all in, if they can just find the right person or source to give it to them.  All of the answers can be known if they just follow and listen.  Instead of Tier 3's view that the world is supposed to be this way, Tier 2's view is that the world is supposed to be a certain way, not "just because" but because someone who has all the answers said so (as if that makes it any better).  Of course, this becomes an issue when it turns out there are no answers, that there is no perfection, no ultimate purpose.

Oddly enough, the idea that everything has a purpose or reason might at first glance seem a Tier 1 mentality, but it's actually Tier 2 and 3.  It implies that whatever happens, whatever rule is in place, has a reason for being there even if that reason is unknown.  It's like a cop-out way of getting Tier 2 and 3 to accept what happens to them, what structures bind them, by eliciting this greater purpose that they don't even have to know.  "God gave everyone different strengths for a reason" and so no weakness is without some greater purpose.  The best way to understand Tier 1's world view is that they remain agnostic to the great majority of things; they're indifferent and neutral, not because they don't care but because the objective truth is what they're after. For them, it's not that everything happens for a reason, it's that everything has a cause.  It's not that every rule exists for a reason, it's that someone put that rule in place and that person had a reason.  Reasons don't exist in a vacuum.  We give things reasons.  We give things purpose.  This is very subtle but  important because assuming something exists for a reason makes you think nature, God, or some other know-all force made it happen whereas knowing that *something* or *someone* made it happen makes you realize that the reason could be invalid.  It becomes a world of actors, of one's will against another, and not a world of luck or chance.

Tier 1 essentially sees the world as deterministic, that everything has a cause (but again not necessarily a purpose/reason).  Nothing is left to chance.  No authority is all-knowing.  It doesn't mean we do not have control of our choices - quite the opposite.  It means we have full power to express our intentions with our only limitations being our understanding of how the world works.

It's easy to misinterpret Tier 1 as someone who only believes in something that has proof or evidence.  That is actually Tier 3, who has to see something to believe it and cannot imagine more than what has happened in the past.  Tier 1 is just agnostic.  What isn't known yet is neither true nor false, just simply unknown.  The only thing that can't be violated is logic.  God, religion, superstition can all still fit here.  It would be a logical fallacy to instead assume that just because there is no proof there is no existence.  It is illogical to assume without evidence, but it is just as illogical to deny without reason.  It is not illogical to leave open the possibility and accept that you don't know.

Confidence and Self-Esteem

The source of confidence for a person can also tell a lot about their mindset.  When we say confidence, we mean their assertiveness and willingness to trust their own decision making.  This is important because we aren't talking about just "looking confident," where you may look the part just for show (or to "fake it till you make it").  We're talking about actually being confident, such that you're willing to rise or fall with your decision alone or with no one else around.

Tier 3, by nature of believing the world is unknowable regardless of how hard they try, essentially equates confidence to charging blindly.  You can't ever know for sure, so the only thing you can do is decide how willingly you move forward despite not being able to see what's ahead.  Everything's a coin flip, and being confident is about how ready you are to let your life be decided by one.  You see this when someone is encouraged to be more assertive or self-confident, and what they end up doing is just forcing themselves to take action or make decisions when they have no idea - in other words, just guessing.  That's confidence for them.  It's not about how sure you are in succeeding, which is still more or less a die roll.  It's about how fearless you are and willing to accept whatever result you get (or just not care).  You see it most often in the case of peer pressure or mob mentality, where the coaxing from others is the source of confidence rather than them actually having any better understanding of the situation or increased likelihood of success.  For Tier 3, confidence is essentially an emotion; they charge not because they can see more clearly but because they feel more strongly.  Tier 3 is the chess player who moves randomly but assertively in hopes of somehow accidentally causing a checkmate.

Tier 2's version of confidence meanwhile is essentially a horse charging with blinders.  They can see the path ahead but nothing else to the sides, and they are okay with that because they believe the path set before them to be the right one and only one that matters.  They draw their confidence from what they've been taught or told, from belief in some idea or concept, and give their full, unwavering effort.  In real life, it's the guy who formulaically does things to extreme perfection with no stray thought or attempt at experimentation.  In conversation, it's the person who goes into a sort of robot mode and keeps repeating what they're supposed to say regardless of who their audience is or what response is being given back to them.  Their confidence comes from sheer belief that what they've learned to do or think is absolutely correct and indisputable, even if they don't understand how or why.  It's different from Tier 3 in that Tier 2 is authentic and genuinely thinks they are doing the right thing, while Tier 3 on the other hand may "feel" confident but in their minds not actually have any real idea what the correct move is.  One could say Tier 2's confidence essentially amounts to a full trust and embrace of structured thinking - again, the perfect soldier who never questions his orders.  Tier 2 is the chess player who efficiently executes the exact same winning strategy over and over again no matter what the opponent does.

Tier 1 doesn't really have confidence in the traditional meaning of the word, as they charge forward only when they can see what's in front of them.  In other words, their confidence comes from actually knowing with certainty what's ahead, whether that be by having more information or being able to logically deduce future outcomes.  While they may still make guesses or take gambles, it is not a source of confidence to do so.  A guess is always a guess, and a gamble is always a gamble.  This means that Tier 1 is rarely confident unless they know the full ins and outs of what they're dealing with, and this often can be frustrating for others who'd rather just charge forward anyway rather than spend so much time thinking about it.  Again, it doesn't mean Tier 1 never guesses or that they approach most things with fear or hesitation; it's just that they wouldn't put any serious weight on such decisions.  If something is unknown, they treat it accordingly rather than charge at it full speed.  For Tier 1, confidence is an internal measure of understanding of the situation.  Tier 1 is essentially the chess player who has no set strategy and tries to think through each move all the way through, even if it makes them the slowest player in the room.

These differences play out especially in group dynamics.  A confident Tier 3 making decisions would appear frustratingly misleading and reckless to Tier 2 and Tier 1 because the confident Tier 3 doesn't actually have any better information or judgement than when they're not confident.  A Tier 2's confident decision meanwhile appears withdrawn and detached to Tier 3 and Tier 1, as if the Tier 2 person had suddenly mentally shut off and become an unthinking machine (even if that machine is still doing the right thing and perfecting things to a tee).  Tier 1 meanwhile will frustrate the other Tiers by rarely actually having a decision or conclusion they are willingly to vouch for, that for most things it is either just no real opinion or no better than a guess.  It comes off as an unwillingness to participate or engage in discussion when in actuality it is just insufficient information or understanding to do so.  The main distinguishing feature, as described in various other parts of the essay, is that Tier 1 is able to identify when they don't know something or that something is unknown, and this is what drives the level of confidence for Tier 1, how much something is known or unknown.  For the other Tiers, it's either that you never know anything for sure anyway (so you're always guessing and might as well guess with confidence) or that you completely submit yourself to what you've been told or taught and never hold back (just recite what you "know").

Along similar lines, the way each Tier experiences the lack of confidence also differ in interesting ways, even if they outwardly appear the same on the surface.  In some sense, the only Tier that really has lack of "self-esteem" is Tier 2, in that they literally don't believe themselves in a very structural sense.  Tier 2 is so conformative that they genuinely believe what others tell them over their own better judgement (or lack thereof).  They often still appear confident even when their resolve is easily broken depending on what others say, and they willingly change positions to match what others say with very little interruption in their demeanor.  Tier 3's low confidence behavior, on the other hand, is often what most people think of when they say low self-esteem label, but Tier 3 doesn't actually doubt their thoughts or disregard what they think is right like Tier 2 does.  What Tier 3 ends up doing is suppressing themselves out of fear of how others will react if they voiced their thoughts or acted openly.  In other words, Tier 3's lack of confidence is more about complacency or peer pressure than it is about lack of self-esteem; the unassertive behavior is a choice to avoid confrontation or interaction with the outside world, not a result of doubt over what to believe or think.  Tier 1 meanwhile is less interesting in this part of the discussion because, as previously described, they already show very little occasions of confidence as is unless they have a full understanding of the situation at hand.

Perception of Death

One of the odder ways to differentiate between the Three Tiers is on how they perceive death - not in the sense of fighting to survive a pre-mature death but in the sense of living longer and avoiding a "natural" one.  In a nutshell, Tier 3 is ok with dying as long as it is indeed "natural."  Everyone dies.  It's part of life.  Tier 2 is ok with dying as well because you're supposed to.  It's "wrong" to live forever, evil and taboo.  Tier 1 straight up does not want to die, ever.

For Tier 3, one could say death is more or less the greatest reminder of their powerlessness, and they do whatever they can to accept it.  They want to live a long time, as long as anyone else, maybe just a little bit more, but not forever.  No, that would be "too" much.  Some go as far as to criticize you instead on why you would want to live so long.  Wouldn't you run out of things to do? What's the point of living forever if you run out of problems to solve, experiences to consume? Because life for them only consists of problems and an a la carte menu of pleasures.  It's just about maximizing consumption and indulgence, and at some point, you must get full.  How could anyone eat forever? The universe for them is finite, limited, bounded.  There are only so many atoms.  Everything will be explored eventually, and everything will have already been discovered.  It's as if they believe there is a wall there that you'll hit if you just travel far enough into space.  They can't truly grasp infinite.  And they try to rationalize their own inability to go beyond this by saying they wouldn't want to.  "The box is there for a reason." "Death and suffering is part of life." "Learn to accept rather than fight it." They'd rather convince themselves they want to die than do whatever it takes to live.

Tier 2 also accepts death, but there is a subtle difference in why they do so.  While Tier 3 perceives it as normal, Tier 2 perceives it as something that is "supposed" to happen.  You "should" die as opposed to it's okay to die.  Because that's what everyone says, every book, every story.  Dying is noble, the right thing to do.  It's almost like a sin to actually live too long, a taboo to even think about immortality.  Tier 2 could have the pill for immortality right in their hands, and they'd throw it out if no one else was taking one.  Who are you to live forever? How dare you even let that cross your mind.  It's selfish, greedy, immoral, wrong, evil.  Only bad people think these things.  Do you want to be a bad person?  And most importantly of all, no one else lives forever, so why would you want to?

Tier 1 meanwhile quite simply wants to live forever.  Literally.  Not through their children.  Not through some book or legacy.  Literally.  As in actually still being around at Earth's end and even past that.  That's not to say that they necessarily can (yet), but they genuinely desire to and would do whatever it takes.  There is no "end" to the universe, and no amount of time is enough to explore all there is to explore, do all there is to do, create all the things they can imagine.  There is no real reason for death to be "natural" or inevitable, and even if it were, there's no reason to embrace it.  Why is wanting to live forever a bad thing? Why is wanting more at all a bad thing? It isn't.  There's nothing wrong with wanting as long as you don't take from or impose on others.

That last statement is where Tier 3 and 2 would disagree because of their world view - namely that Tier 3 believes nothing is infinite so you have to be taking from others, from them, and that Tier 2 believes no one is truly independent, that you always stand on the shoulders of someone else and therefore impose on others.  The more you want, the more you take from others, the more you impose on the rest of the world.  To want something infinite is to therefore take everything from everyone and commit a wrong so great you could never justify it.

Of course, this all goes out the window when the norm changes, when someone finds a way to extend our lifespans, perhaps one day perpetually.  For Tier 2 especially, their opinion changes as soon as public perception changes (perhaps not even that, just the people they surround themselves with).  For Tier 3, as soon as someone else gets to live longer, they don't want to be left out.  No one nowadays is content with living only 50 years, even though that was the average life expectancy just a hundred years ago.  It's like the guy that says he is content and doesn't want money, until you show him how attainable it is to have more.  Death is only natural... that is, until you find a cure.  Then they'll kill you to have it.

Not to Be Confused with the Maslow Hierarchy

It's easy to skim over this and equate this to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but the concepts are apples and oranges.  Things like survival needs and self-esteem are referenced in both, but that's just nature of the fact that both the Tiers and Maslow's hierarchy are discussing people, motivations, and mindsets.  It's like trying to say two paintings are the same just because they use the same color palette.  You can point at Tier 1 as being defined by the need for self-actualization, Tier 2 as being defined by the need for esteem/social, Tier 3 as being stuck on basic needs, but the mapping falls apart as soon as you try to look at what each Tier wants, how they go about it, and why.  

For starters, the esteem/social-oriented Tier 2 is the one actually trying to "find themselves" or have a greater purpose.  If you go by that instead, you'd then assume Tier 2 is about self-actualization, which would insufficiently explain their tendency to conform.  You could backtrack and say that Tier 2 is mistaken in what they want, that they are actually deficient in the lower esteem/social needs which leads to their constant seeking of direction and feedback from others, but whereas Maslow discusses it as the social need driving their behavior, the point here is that this is how someone actually rationalizes and thinks about the world.  It's not about what they need to be happy or satisfied.  It's that they actually believe the world works by what's socially validated or dictated by authority.  They literally believe something is true on the basis that someone else said so.  They may legitimately want to self-actualize, but they do so by reading a how-to guide on finding yourself or by looking for the "right answers" on what leads to happiness.  You can have someone who is completely confident, socially satisfied and full of self-esteem, perhaps even already self-actualized, yet that person would still be Tier 2 because everything that person wants and tries to do requires some rule or guidance, that they struggle as soon as they venture into unexplored territory.

The two concepts are not mutually exclusive; they just have nothing to do with each other.  Maslow's hierarchy is defined by "need," but for the Tiers, it is defined by the mindset - how you think the world works, how you come to the conclusion of what's true, how you approach things, etc.  The goal of someone could be to satisfy a need on Maslow's hierarchy; how they go about it determines the Tier.  You can be Tier 1 and still be at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy if all your scheming and master planning is just to survive - think of the cut-throat types who stop at nothing to get what they want after being trapped or deprived for a long time.  You can be Tier 3 and pretty satisfied across all your needs, even self-actualized, if you've been lucky bumbling through life - a sort of Forrest Gump character.  It's about how and why you pursue things, not what you pursue.

More importantly, trying to fit this into Maslow's hierarchy would ignore all the other aspects such as reference point, perception of truth, and power dynamics.  A person might be starved for food, but who feeds him? If he figures a way to feed himself, he'd be Tier 1.  If he is at the mercy of someone or something else to be fed, that might put him in Tier 3.  If he follows what he's told will get him food, that might put him at Tier 2.  It depends on a lot more than that, but that gets across how just need and desire alone are insufficient to describing the Tiers.  A person in any of the three Tiers could have any variety of needs, but the need does not define the mindset.

Perhaps Tied to Maturity and Cognitive Development

One possible mapping to the Three Tiers is perhaps the level of maturity one reaches over the course of their life.  Here, we are talking about the academic definition in terms of cognitive development, not the adjective of you being more or less mature than someone else over some dispute.  The relevance is especially apparent when it comes to the development of empathy (1, 2) and perspective taking [#].  Some say they're two separate things; for me, there is no imagining what someone truly feels without understanding why they feel it, what it is they're thinking and experiencing from their perspective (plenty of text [#] out there that links the two).  To see the similarities, we can break down a few points about each Tier below:

- Tier 3 has an inability to consider the rest of the world other than their own perspective; the rest of the world exists but is just a big wall of unknown.  By extension, this could be said to emerge from their lack of true empathy; they can tell how others feel but struggle to understand *why* someone is feeling the way they do without projecting their own beliefs and values into the situation.  They assume someone would be happy for the same reasons they would.  Similarly, they struggle with the abstract, imagining what isn't real or hasn't happened yet.  Their only real familiarity is with the concrete and material, like someone trying to dominate on basis of age, what they have, or other physical traits.  Things "just are."  The world "just is."

- Tier 2 rises above that by dealing in abstracts but still not quite fully grasping the why, the reason the abstracts are true.  Similarly, they understand others well enough to play the script but not to change it.  In a sense, they never really solve the lack of empathy with Tier 3; they just rote-memorize how to respond to any situation without needing to understand it.  They know others have different beliefs, views, and values, but not why, what it'd take for those views to change or be maintained.  They become more caught up in labels and "who they are," what others say is true.  They are like perpetual students in search of a teacher even when they've risen to the top of their stack.

- Tier 1 approaches both the abstract and the reading of others through why - why it works, why someone thinks the way they do, why they feel the way they do.  They mentally simulate cause and effect events, which might be slower, but doesn't resort to the use of heuristics or rote memorization of patterns.  Nothing ever "just is" or because of "who they are."

If we take a look at some basic topics on development of the mind, we can quickly see some parallels:
- Development of social perspective [#] starts first with not knowing that others might have different viewpoints.  It grows to a point where they can read what others are feeling but not necessarily why or what it feels like, which brings up hints of Tier 3.  Notably, the article describes that some people might never actually reach a point of true "perspective taking" - that is, the ability to genuinely put themselves in another's shoes rather than just recognizing what it is someone wants or feels.  More details on perspective taking can be read on NCBI [#], which more or less supports what we've been discussing.
- Development of empathy [#] mentions children early on being able to absorb and perceive negative emotions from others, but they then resort to "self-comforting" to relieve their stress rather than realize that they are feeling someone else's emotions.  This is similar to when Tier 3, under stress, then focuses everything on himself and his pain rather than looks at the problem from a 3rd person point of view.  The paper notably reconciles the empathy and perspective taking by defining cognitive empathy (simply imagining what the other experiences) and emotional empathy (following up with imagining what they feel as a result).  It notes that unequal development of these two traits may lead two differing scenarios, such as genuinely helping someone who is sad vs simply comforting them, which ties in with what we discuss here (Tier 3 will make you feel better, Tier 2 will do what the book says, Tier 1 will actually try to understand why you feel that way and find the source).
- Hoffman's Theory is perhaps most detailed and most clearly parallel.  Its "egocentric empathic distress" is reminiscent of Tier 3 in that the "child will attempt to help the other in distress, but from their own point of view."  The case where a problem overwhelms someone with enough emotion to take them "out of the empathic mode" and into only thinking about how they feel (their pain, what's in it for them) is referred to there as "empathic over-arousal."  Similarly, the "learned helplessness" we discuss frequently is referred to as "habituation," where one begins to accept the suffering as normal.  Lastly, the inability to see past surface level cues, such as when someone is laughing but inwardly suffering or Hoffman's "here and now bias," is reminiscent of Tier 3's blindness to the abstract or indirect cause-and-effect.  Just as notably, Hoffman also points out that many people never mature past this point.  "Socialization" rings very similar to Tier 2 in that their sense of right and wrong is molded by what they're exposed to - images, news, reactions; Hoffman calls this "induction."  "Familiarity bias" also brings up what we discussed about Tier 2's tendency to conform or believe what's accepted amongst their peers.  "Moral internalization" is perhaps the closest thing to Tier 1 in that the person's sense of right and wrong exists "regardless of external punishment or reward"; similarly, those with moral principles can sometimes be regarded as "cold" even if the intent is to avoid emotional bias.

The discussions on responsibility and ownership we have had here also map to more general ideas of maturity, in that as it is generally understood that as you get older, you become more independent.  Some people perhaps never get past the fact that they are not entitled to what they do not make happen or earn for themselves, that the world does not owe them "fairness" or "equality," much less a roof over their heads.  Others never get to the point of truly fathoming a world without guidance, of not having someone there to hold their hand and tell them what they should do.  It's not too much of a stretch to see the Three Tiers as perhaps a sign of where everyone mentally is despite their physical age.

Where to Find Them

It's easy to try to map the three Tiers to social classes, and some of the stereotypes provide an easy way to visualize the character traits.  One could say that the common working (even rural) class person is Tier 3.  They often can only really think of their basic needs and don't have time for the political games or first world problems of the higher classes.  The middle-to-upper class workers, managers, media, politicians, even world leaders - all the city and first-world folk could be seen as Tier 2.  They satisfy their basic needs enough to start worrying about more abstract problems like saving the whales or finding themselves.  They believe they're on the right side of history and represent the average person but less because they know what life is like for most people and more because they've been obedient, read all the books, and "done their part" - like the District 1 of "The Hunger Games" or just your typical bureaucrat.  They think they are the common man but refuse to step out of their bubble to see the rest of the world.  They think they already know the rest of the world by what others tell them, but those others are often just as trapped in the same bubble as they are.  It's like blind leading the blind, and it is not that far removed from fiction.  You have plenty of people fighting for animal rights but still eating the meat to support the slaughter.  You have plenty of people fighting for energy conservation only to come home and leave all their appliances on every day.  You only have to look at Silicon Valley and the insane housing prices to see a similar hatred between the lower class and the more well-to-do tech workers who otherwise think they're the norm, the "future".  And the people at the top, those 1% people, must be Tier 1, manipulating everyone else below them for their own gain.  The scheming behind the scenes, the manipulation and puppetry - like Palpatine of "Star Wars." Right? The social class mapping to the Three Tiers is a helpful way to visualize the stereotypes, but as mentioned before, it's not accurate.  What you are doing is using stereotypes of both the Tiers and social classes you are mapping them to, neither of which are reliable when you actually go out to the real world.  You're oversimplifying people based on their social status and then oversimplifying the three Tiers based on the effect and not the cause (the result and not the input).

It's also easy to try to map the Tiers to culture or ideology, but what becomes clear is that they are just different ways people express the same manner of reasoning.  The having and getting mindset of Tier 3 immediately brings to mind the stereotypes of capitalism and consumerism in the Western world, but it is just as easily associated with the money-mindedness and penny-pinching cheapness of Asian mentality.  In any society or community, there's always that guy flaunting what he has, his physical superiority to others, and trying to muscle his way through life in such manner, but the opposite end with the person always trying to be the underdog or rebel but still basing everything they do on feel, gut, and need is just as Tier 3.  The imagery of Tier 2 is most easily associated with the open conformity and obedience of Asian culture, especially with the sinking of the Korean ferry [#] and bureaucratic fumbling of the Fukushima disaster [#] (satirized heavily with the movie "Shin Godzilla" and almost a textbook example of Tier 2 perception-over-reality behavior, where the prime minister even dressed up in rescue gear during a conference just to "appear" involved in disaster recovery on the ground), but it can be just as prevalent in the Western world in the form of herd thinking, political correctness, and academia/pedigree - just think of the gridlock in government, the groupthink of employees in large corporations, the public shaming of anyone having difference of opinion (especially on social media).  It's less obvious but in some ways perhaps even more dangerous because it masquerades in the disguise of independent thinking.  But again, these are just comparing generalizations.  There are plenty of counterexamples.  You can have the politician motivated more by money than of status, the employee in a large company motivated more by the paycheck than by the title, ...

In the end, it's not about a person's place in society or the culture they adhere to.  It's about whether they want something for themselves and can achieve it.  It's about where their directive comes from and who they direct subsequently, whether they are the originator for a chain of events or just another link, where sources of influence and motivation come from.  Where they often end up in society is just an effect of that ability, which may or may not match up to the stereotype.  It isn't about what someone does but why.  A common mistake is to look at who is in power or successful, running the show, and assume they're Tier 1.  As mentioned before, you can have someone who is the founder and CEO of a company but at the end of the day he doesn't really want anything other than to make life for him and his close ones comfortable; that would be Tier 3.  You can have someone be the president of a country but at the end of the day be a mere puppet to those that put him there; that would be Tier 2.  A lot of the time, those officially running the show or in power may be do all the right things to get themselves up there by have no real understanding of why it works or even what they're doing specifically that's making things happen.  It's like a stage of actors following a script without real understanding of what they're saying or who the character they're portraying is.  Someone, on paper, may seem like a complete nobody but through sheer wit and influence might be the guy behind the scenes manipulating everything from the shadows, the ghostwriter or person who holds all the cards; that would be Tier 1.  Although not always the case, Tier 1 usually avoids putting themselves out as the figurehead for what they're doing, as the face of their own operation - the reason being there is logically no reason to expose yourself.  That said, it wouldn't be outrageous for someone to be devious enough to pull a reverse psychology here and hide in broad daylight by doing so.  It's easiest to think of Tier 1 as those who built themselves from nothing into someone massively successful, but some of the strongest people I know are not at all successful and not because they couldn't be.  They're the sort of people who you know could do anything they put their mind to.  It just so happened that these few were interested in other things besides material success.  It wasn't their goal.

Some might wonder whether what I'm seeing is biased due to where I grew up, where I lived, but the more I travel, the more I see that different cultures, different places, more or less express these same personality types just in slightly different ways.  I've lived in both the more rural and upscale parts of suburbs, spent years in Silicon Valley itself, split my time between NYC and LA, gone on roadshows in China, Korea, Japan, Singapore, and various parts of Europe.  I spent half my childhood online where I only found out later that most my friends were years if not decades older than me, where most of them were scattered around the globe and not even from the United States.  The thing to remember is that we're not talking about how people behave on the surface level.  We're talking about when you break them down all the way to the core, what is it they actually value and prioritize.  You more or less have to put them in a box, mentally strand them on an island [#], to really know what motivates them, how they express it, how authentic they are to that motivation.  That engineer in SF might be shy or more technical than the banker on Wall Street, but both perhaps are motivated by just the pay of their careers to live a decent life (Tier 3).  Or perhaps each decides to quit their jobs one day to become activists for opposite political parties, but the desire for greater purpose is the same (Tier 2).  I mentioned off-hand that over the course of the last few years, I've had almost 20 people quit their jobs within months of meeting me.  Much of them make this transition from being content with their current life to suddenly wanting more.  Very few of them, however, ever actually figure out what that more is and even fewer figure out how to make it happen.  The other analogy I've made in the above essay is that of everyone actually being quite similar deep down but buried under differing amounts of bandages; some are buried so deep and for so long they forget a world of walking without crutches or walking at all, even if they all technically still have muscles underneath that have long healed or were never damaged to begin with.  While one can argue that people can all change to see the world in different ways, my point here with the Tiers is not wondering who can technically walk if you strip away the bandages and opened their eyes; it's who have already been walking all their lives on their own, running in fact, and are pushing their limits, rather than marveling over the sheer fact they can walk without crutches (some even turning their life purpose to teaching others how to walk or trying to figure out the "correct" A+ way).

It's very easy to mistake someone as Tier 1 if you don't know them from deep down, if you aren't going all the way to the source of why they do things, how strong their resolve really is when everything and everyone turns against them.  Many times, when I meet someone I thought might have been Tier 1, that appeared to have the internal strength of mind not to let the world stop them, I couldn't help eventually finding their limits, their mental boundaries, and once I do, I become so frustrated with them, with the fact they have these weaknesses in the first place that are just purely mental.  It becomes very tempting to just reach in and shatter them from the inside out.  It's not that I think I am better, stronger, or more correct.  It's the mere fact that this vulnerability, this mental box of theirs, exists in the first place, unguarded and unaware, as if hoping the world never notices.  If anything, it would be a nice change of pace to have the reverse happen.  I want someone to try and break me.  It would be fun, a battle of sheer will.  But alas, most people see challenge, rivalry, and competition now as akin to evil.

Closing Thoughts

Most people want to be told what to do, whether they admit it or not and whether it comes directly from others or indirectly from the world. Their reference point is external, their motivations and influences brought in from outside rather than generated from within themselves. For Tier 3, their direction comes from both others and the past, the biased observation of what worked historically as proof of how the world works going forwards. Tier 2 tries to break free of the past but ends up still dependent on others to direct or guide them, the fallacy of social validation and appeal to authority. Tier 1 is able to genuinely operate independently from both the past and the rest of the world, in other words being free of external influence and having your reference point be internal, but there is not necessarily a linear path between Tier 2 and 1 as there is between 3 and 2.  Almost by definition, you must come to that mindset yourself and cannot be taught to not rely on what you see happens historically or what others say the world should be.  It's not that you no longer have external input, it's that your reference point, that final call and authority on any decision, the underlying reason for your thought or action, is internal.  In a sense, Tier 1 at its core is about authenticity, which can only come from within.

A lot of people will mistake this for being some sort of path to happiness, success, or satisfaction, but the three Tiers has absolutely nothing to do with that.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  One is not better than the other.  You don't get more points in life.  You aren't happier as you rise up.  Most people would probably be perfectly happy staying in the Tier they're in because that's who they naturally are unless something drastic happens.  It has nothing to do with where they end up in life, and every case needs to be independently evaluated.  Some might look to the fact the Tiers are numbered as a way to rank them, and if anything, it's a trap for instantly identifying those who misread what I'm trying to write.  We could number them backwards or even by letter, and there would still be people who think the ranking matters.

As inferred from my other writings, I very much despise generalizations and blanket statements, which makes topics like this very difficult to discuss. This is not, however, an attempt to generalize. It is not about a class of people nor an assumption about who or what someone is. This is an observation that there exists three main mindsets I've personally come across, what characteristics tend to underpin them, and my reasonings for why they persist. It is like saying there exists a murderer in the city; I'm not saying everyone in the city is a murderer. It is like saying there exists financially successful people who built themselves up in this manner or there exists others who tore themselves down in another manner; I'm not saying one is better than the other or that people should be one way or another, just observing how one rose while the other fell and reasoning about the causes and effects. There is nothing generalizing there; it is definitional and observational.

More importantly, the three Tiers are not something you can just slap on and declare.  It's not something where you say, "oh yeah, I care about other things too" or "I want to be therefore I am." You either are or you aren't.  It's how you make decisions when pushed to the brink, when it's life or death, how you value your scarcity of time.  It is neither a badge of pride (Tier 3 reaction) nor a checklist to life/success (Tier 2 reaction). It is the understanding of someone's mindset only once you know that person very deeply to the core, even if that person is yourself.

It's not hard to see how some might think of this as a guide or how-to article.  A Tier 3 person will read this and think they're Tier 1 because they consider themselves different from the crowd or that they have "more" than others - whether that be experience, talent, success, or other qualities.  Alternatively, they might instead think it's nonsense because they believe no one ever has real control or understanding of the world.  Perhaps they might even nitpick one or two details as technically or syntactically incorrect while ignoring the bigger picture.  They might even apply their belief that nothing is absolute and say that no one is only one tier, that everyone has a little bit of everything.  Tier 2 meanwhile will read this and think they should be Tier 1 just because they perceive themselves to be striving for higher purpose, that they want to be "more," are "enlightened," etc.  They might think they just need to change their mindset and choose to become Tier 1, but they then wonder why nothing is happening once they think it.  It's like those who just say yes but don't get that it wasn't a yes or no question.  They'll treat it like a checklist of how to get an A+ in life.  Tier 1 will read this and see that these are just observations and reasonings by another human being.  At the end of the day, someone who already knows themselves and the world is not going to be swayed by what they read, and this is not meant to do that in the first place.



Three Tiers Chart

Below is a chart comparing and contrasting the three Tiers to give a better anecdotal sense of how they would be in various situations.  It is also available as a PDF file attached at the bottom of the post.
Tier 1          Tier 2          Tier 3          
Self-motivated.Social validation.Carrot and stick.
Self-determination.Self-discipline.Self-preservation.
Shape the world.Shaped by the world.Enslaved by the world.
Power.Purpose.Freedom.
Authenticity.Conformity.Complacency.
Define the label.Pick a label.Given a label.
Know.Memorize.Wing it.
Create.Repackage.Consume.
Inspire and question.Preach and shame.Incentivize and threaten.
How and why.Good or bad.Have or have not.
Wants to do.Wants to be.Wants to get.
The world is mine.The world is everyone else's.The world is rigged against me.
Battle between gods.Battle with yourself.Battle with your boss.
I am what I want to be.I am what you want me to be.I am what fate makes me to be.
Defined by intentions.Defined by association.Defined by the past.
Because I want to.Because you’re supposed to.Because it feels good/bad.
Praises what you did.Praises who you are.Praises what you have.
Fairness is earning it.Fairness is ticking the boxes.Fairness is if I get what you get.
No one owes anyone else.I owe everyone else.Everyone else owes me.
Leave it as you found it.Leave it as you think it should be.Leave it and run.
Truth, honesty, sincerity.Honor, loyalty, quid pro quo.Me, myself, and my family.
Know the truth.Know your place.Know your limits.
Truth is objective.Truth is what others say.Truth is what I see.
World spins with or without me.World spins only if people say it does.World can't spin unless I'm part of it.
Universe is deterministic.Universe is rule-based.Universe is chance.
Right and wrong is objective.Everyone doing it makes it ok.Unintentional makes it ok.
What do you think?What do you want me to think?What do you want from me?
Why not?Who else is doing it?Has it been done before?
Make it happen.Fake it till you make it.Wait until it happens.
Think of the future.Think of what others will think.Think of the money.
How to build it.How to look like I'm building it.How to get my piece of it.
It's your actions.It's your tools and mentors.It's luck.
Fixes before it happens.Fixes if others are watching.Fixes if it bites them.
Brainstorms.Asks for the solution.Complains about the problem.
Does it with you.Tells you what to do.Cheers you on from afar.
Helps you from the start.Helps only if you tell them to.Helps after you already made it.
Someone made it this way.It’s meant to be this way.Things just are this way.
Because cause-effect.Because what others say.Just because.
Perception is malleable.Perception is reality.Perception is BS.
Logic.Authority.Experience.
Imagination.Rearrangement.Trial and error.
Thinks in pictures.Thinks in words.Thinks in feelings.
Visual learning.Rote memorization.Classical conditioning.
Blueprint.Random buzzwords.Last year’s solutions.
Do what's never been done.Do the same thing in different style.Literally do the same thing.
World is a sandbox.World is chutes and ladders.World is a jungle.
Be your own god.Find a god.Find a corner and die.
Creating the light.Chasing the light.There is no light.
Power is created.Power is given.Power is born into.
- - -
Tier 1Tier 2Tier 3
Kantian (if everyone did this).Utilitarian (greater good).Hedonistic (pleasure vs pain).
Intent, then action, then result.Right action, wrong intent.Wrong action, honest intent.
Respects you for you.Respects you for your status.Respects you for what you have.
Respect is not imposing.Respect is worshipping.Respect is letting others be right.
To care requires to understand.To care is just an action.To care is just time spent.
Tries to realize your goal.Tries to change your goal.Tries to play devil’s advocate.
Thinks people want power.Thinks people want jobs.Thinks people want money.
Pitched one person and sold.Pitched everyone, sold nothing.Pitched and got sold to.
Maybe is neutral.Maybe is yes.Maybe is no.
Unknown is unknown.Unknown is zero.Unknown is random.
Agnostic until proven.Innocent until proven guilty.Guilty until proven innocent.
Proof by logic.Proof by social validation.Proof by empirical evidence.
Wrong if illogical.Wrong if no one else agrees.Wrong if there's no proof.
Illogical against real chance.Illogical outside of their box.Illogical when emotional.
Absolutes exist.Absolutes are bad.Nothing is absolute.
Weakness of mind is bad.Incorrect thought is bad.Power is bad.
Looking for equals.Looking for leaders.Looking for followers.
Wants to understand.Wants to be accepted.Wants to be heard.
Defensive if misunderstood.Defensive of their authority.Defensive of anything personal.
Assuming of you is personal.Any talk of anyone is personal.Any talk of me is personal.
Assuming is guessing.Assuming is thinking w/o authority.Everything is an assumption.
Arrogance is ignoring reason.Arrogance is ignoring others.Arrogance is being right too often.
Rather be unhappy w/ truth.Rather be happy with a lie. Rather not be told.
Seeks God to learn from Him.Seeks God to be told what to do.Seeks God to be saved.
Reverse-engineers fountain of youth.Sells it to the highest bidder.Drinks it all for himself.
I created it.I pushed the buttons.I was there.
Nothing is zero sum.Everything is zero sum.Everything is against me.
Reference point is self.Reference point is other people.Reference point is nature.
Defined internally.Defined externally.Undefined.
Can't stand boredom.Can't stand uncertainty.Can’t stand pain.
Trapped by the universe.Trapped by society.Trapped by the body.
Fear of limited time.Fear of being wrong.Fear of not having enough.
Life goals require no one else.Life goals require involving others.Life goals require getting from others.
Save the ship.Go down with the ship.Jump ship.
Chess board.Race track.Mouse trap.
Winning is the best possible.Winning is relative to others.Winning is not losing.
Losing is never ok.Losing with everyone is ok.Losing with no choice is ok.
Charges forward on certainty.Charges forward with blinders on.Charges forward completely blind.
Win by being better than you.Win by denying your legitimacy.Win by tearing you down.
Disagreement is bad.Disagreement is productive.Disagreement is natural.
Because others don’t see.Because others are ignorant.B/c others don't want to be wrong.
Separates every detail.Can’t separate opinion vs fact.Can’t separate cause vs correlation.
Funny is unintentional consequence.Funny is by formula.Funny is pathetic and awkward.
Cries for the characters' pain.Cries if everyone else is crying.Cries if reminded of their own pain.
Likes the story.Likes the artist.Likes the colors.
Talks about ideas.Talks about the words.Talks about himself.
Critiques the substance.Critiques the source.Critiques the syntax.
Forward looking.Tunnel-visioned.Shortsighted.
Puppet master.Strings.Puppet.
Wants to literally live forever.Wants to live forever in memory.Wants to die happy.
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Responses

  1. AD said,
    Nov-16-2016, 10:13pm

    I see no tier for those who believe in the subjectivity of truth?

  2. pftq said,
    Nov-16-2016, 10:28pm

    Try Ctrl/Cmd+F

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