Richard J. Chandler

Composer for Performing Musicians

Vertical vs. Horizontal Striving: What Drives Despots or Inspires Humanitarians

Take Two+ Tuesday
A Quote, a Thought + an Enriching Link

Thought: Vertical vs. Horizontal Striving: What Drives Despots or Inspires Humanitarians
Originating with the psychologist Alfred Adler and present-day Adlerians, including this writer, have expounded on ‘vertical versus horizontal striving’ to understand the actions of individuals. It helps to understand this continuum visually.  
Let’s place Russia’s hostile, despicable aggressor, Vladimir Putin, on the far right of a Vertical vs. Horizontal Striving bar graph. His is perhaps the most extreme example of vertical striving. 
People who embrace vertical striving seek to build their self-importance by continually finding others to feel superior to and looking to advance their status by seeking to climb a social ladder like an elevator on its way up to a higher floor. 
Their never-ending question is, “Who am I better than, and who is better than me?” They live their lives vertically like an elevator going up and down based on their gains or losses in status. 
Horizontal strivers occupying the left side of the horizontal bar graph are not nearly as concerned about status. Even financially well-off horizontal strivers do not feel superior to more modest economic or educational status people, and they don’t “suck up” to people with more wealth or credentials.  
Note: I am not making a political statement here with left and right. In my experience, there are many vertical strivers with liberal political views and horizontal strivers among people with more conservative viewpoints.  
The motto of horizontal strivers is, “We are all in this together.” Think of Gandhi, or in more recent times, Nelson Mandela. Horizontal strivers are team players, and even those in top leadership positions befriend janitors, line workers, and gardeners. 
We have different backgrounds, aptitudes, and skills. With horizontal striving, we see our differences as strengths. Mastery in our fields of endeavor is in the service of making a greater contribution, not as self-aggrandizement. Where would you place yourself on this continuum? Would others identify you there as well?
More of Adler’s ideas are here on this page on my website.

+ An Artistic Link: 

I shed tears from viewing this video.     

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I am excited to let you know of the premier of my collection of 3 songs and an instrumental interlude, “Addiction: Songs of Struggle & Victory,” based on the poetry of McKnight artist Lawrence Schug. I will perform the saxophone parts, and Carolyn Finley will sing the songs with her husband, pianist Edward Turley. This post on my music website highlights the work.

It will be part of the Pastiche CSB-SJU faculty concert at 7:30 pm on Friday, April 1st, at the Humphrey Auditorium of St. Johns University. More information on the university website. Concert campus safety requirements here. I would be honored to have you in the audience and visit with you right after the concert.