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Rhys Marc Photis

Q&A with Rhys Marc Photis, author of The Turquoise Brick Road 

‘Time is running out, and we can achieve so much more’  

The challenges of the 21st century can only be tackled in one way: together! In his insightful new book, The Turquoise Brick Road, changemaker Rhys Marc Photis reveals how a theory created by US psychologist, Dr. Clare W. Graves, some 60 years ago can help create shared understanding, awareness and most importantly, a viable way forward for modern society. Here, we speak with Rhys to find out more.  

Can you briefly describe what the Turquoise Brick Road is about? 

Drawing on the original work of Dr. Clare Graves, The Turquoise Brick Road  is designed to be a fun, thought-provoking read, making the Graves Value System (GVS) more accessible to a mainstream audience. Including 8 stories and over 500 illustrations by Craig Cornock, it provides a stark and significant reminder that we have more in common than separates us. 

For those not familiar with his work, The Graves Value System (GVS) is a two-tiered system which describes eight levels that epitomise human development to date. Each stage represents a specific worldview based on certain values, beliefs and behaviours, and a place where the people who uphold that view feel at home. As individuals move through the stages, they learn that specific values and ways of living that were once appropriate no longer are, due to changed circumstances. The model implies that human nature is not static and people need to adapt their values and mindset in order to develop. As people progress or regress, they swing between individualistic and communal or collective values. 

Who is Dr. Clare Graves? 

Dr. Graves was a professor of psychology and the creator of the emergent cyclical theory of adult human development. His value-based framework was developed as a means of validating the work of his friend, Abraham Maslow, who went on to develop the well known ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ theory. Sadly, Dr. Graves died before his work could be published but some people have gone on to apply his logic to areas such as social change, personal or organisation development. You might have heard of Spiral Dynamics, Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory or Frederick Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations 

What appeals to you so much about the work of Dr. Clare Graves? 

One of my main reasons for writing this book was to honour Dr. Graves – a hard-working visionary who deserves greater acknowledgement. Many other geniuses, like Socrates, Vincent van Gogh, Nikola Tesla, and Dr Subhash Mukhopadhyay, only received the level of appreciation they deserved long after they had passed away; much more valuable insight has potentially been lost forever. I believe that what Dr. Graves developed is truly groundbreaking and can help us to stay true to ourselves, unlike what I did in my youth. Looking back at my career path, I understand when and how I progressed. However, many changes were unclear and stressful at the time. I wish I’d had the clarity then that I have now. Dr. Graves gave me a greater appreciation for and insight into who I am as an individual, who we are as society, and where we are heading.  

Why did you write the book? 

We live in a world where we are too often disconnected and disassociated from one another: politicians from the public they serve, executives from their employees, people from the producers of what they consume, and so on. Furthermore, this world is becoming overly complex and confusing. Mission-critical challenges like politics, climate change, and the leadership crisis, create much distorted noise that causes us to miss opportunities to come together. The GVS framework helps create a shared understanding, awareness and way forward. The book is my way of future-proofing myself and my business in a way that I hope others will be inspired to follow. In many ways it means understanding and working with natural patterns and dynamics; rather than against them 

How would this book have influenced your younger self? 

It would have been transformational. Let’s be fair, most of us start off guided by our parents and then try to figure out our lives as we go along. In the beginning, it is all about doing – getting things done, learning and exploring. I was too busy to look at the bigger picture when I was young. Had I known about the universal roadmap that Graves designed, I would have made much better career choices. As it goes, I didn’t stumble across the work of Graves until I was well into my professional career. Since then, the GVS stages continue to provide me with a broad but clear professional roadmap and underlying logic. In short, it helps me to understand how to be more true to myself and live in more harmony  

Who should read The Turquoise Brick Road? 

Obviously I am biased, but the truth is everyone and anyone should read it! The GVS framework is applicable to young people and old, to social situations, relationships, careers, politics and organisations of all sizes. I believe the framework that Dr. Graves developed is mission critical for the continuation of our human development.. I really fear that we are running out of time and our ignorance is killing our habitat, the very basis of our existence and evolution. I strongly believe that this shared insight will help us become more self-aware, develop more understanding and tolerance, consequently gaining greater awareness of what we need to change to save the planet and redeem our species. We can achieve so much more.  

It is time we live up to our potential or history will keep on repeating itself until we have brought our beloved Mother Earth to its knees.    

You can find out more about The Turquoise Brick Road and order your copy at  


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