Turning passion into a profession:
Martin Sage

An anxiety researcher and a curiosity researcher meet on a plane: no, it’s not the beginning of a joke. Instead it’s a meeting between Prof. Charles Spielberger and Martin Sage – who today constitute the core competency of “Radar for Leaders”.

Martin Sage is a curiosity pioneer and one of the coiners of a term whose use is inflationary these days: “coaching”. Sage’s “Performances Scales” form the basic grid for Sonja Becker’s coaching matrix for a transformation to freedom, high performance and new entrepreneurship. In close collaboration with Sage and his wife Gigi, Sonja Becker has been helping openminded, growth-oriented people to find their passion since the 1980s. Implementing Sage’s method and Maslow’s “Positive Psychology” (as opposed to “therapy”) is known as “coaching” today.

Practice, practice, practice.

Friedrich Nietzsche

The man who invented coaching

In the middle of the 1990s, two gentlemen happened to take seats in the same row on a flight from Maui/Hawaii to the US mainland: Martin Sage and Charles Spielberger. Sage spoke to his neighbor in the row: “Sir, you look like a psychologist.” The lady next to Spielberger, apparently his wife, answered: “Yes, he was the head of the American Psychological Association.” Sage was very familiar with the name Spielberger – back in the day, he had been forced to leave the APA as a black sheep because he had attacked the psychologists’ scene, accusing them of “analysis” which was merely past-based and complex-based.

Spielberger’s construction of scales for measuring the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was familiar to him as well. Maslow’s conception of self-growth served him as a matrix, with Spielberger’s anger/fear model as a “guardian” on the threshold between an individual’s positive and negative condition, plus curiosity … Sage and Spielberger’s wife changed seats. Sage explained his Performance Scale to Spielberger with anger, fear and curiosity as their key factors. Spielberger concluded: “I study anger and anxiety, and you study curiosity!” – it was the beginning of a richly fundamental research collaboration, which “Radar for Leaders” successfully continues.

The untapped potential – The sky is the limit

“Curiosity” was the crucial game-changer on Martin Sage’s Performance Scale, which leads people toward their own potential. Thus, Spielberger was the negative prophet and Sage with “his” curiosity was the positive prophet. Spielberger’s State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) corresponded to Sage’s hierarchy of the Performance Scale (Psychological States) – with the exception of the curiosity factor. In Sage’s conception, the “Three Guardians” anger, anxiety and curiosity constitute the main dynamics on the threshold to transformation for a self-fulfilled life. The two birds of a feather became close friends.

Every time geniality becomes manifest, it’s because of alert spirits connecting.

Sonja Becker

Have no fear: Curiosity doesn’t kill the cat!

Curiosity demonstrates how a being’s soul grows just as a result of change and experience – from depression to bliss, from extremely negative to absolutely positive mental states. Maslow’s “growth-motivated” people are not driven because they lack something, but instead because they see the chance to grow beyond themselves. With this kind of innovation, Maslow labels the phenomenon: “Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.”

Martin Sage discovered that curiosity is THE decisive factor for Maslow’s B-people (B for “being”) in order for them to grow beyond themselves. He found the fitting method in what was coined applicable “Positive Psychology”: coaching. He invented a table for this, called the “Performance Scale” with graduated levels ranging from the “deepest depression” to “utmost bliss”: the first-ever map of consciousness and mental growth! Along with Spielberger’s STAI Inventory, it is possible to isolate the coachee’s mental state and allow for growth beyond it. Sage’s discovery: the question of curiosity inspires people to go the next step and pursue their wishes. The rest is a matter of exercise, or to say it in Nietzsche’s imperative: “Practice, practice, practice!” Sonja Backer and Gigi Sage have enhanced those scales for various spheres of life, e.g. leadership and entrepreneurship, coaching, and sales as well as family and relationship.

It’s only about triggering curiosity.

Phil Jackson, Basketball Legend

Grow beyond yourself through curiosity

Coach Martin Sage demonstrates what happens to someone who acts on their curiosity; what happens when people use their “untapped potential”. Below the anger/anxiety threshold, people find themselves in the most difficult of life situations: in mediocrity, in the daily routine, in the mundane, where people don’t even realize that they are stuck on a treadmill – until something rekindles curiosity. Then, a new journey starts which can lead to true fulfillment. Not only in the realms of psychology, but also in totally different spheres, in business, in sports, in anything suggesting success in general. Legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson explained his entire game philosophy with the words “It’s only about triggering curiosity with my players.” With this formula, he made players such as Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant the world’s best players.

The famous but also true saying that “today is the first day of the rest of your life” is in principle the Manifesto of Self-Actualization – and also one of Martin Sage’s book titles from 2001 (Live your dream!). In thousands of coachings, with countless startups, entrepreneurs, managers, celebrities and representatives from all classes and generations, Martin Sage has brought many people to realize their true potential through curiosity – as a compass to their true passion. Most of them have gone on to make their passion a profession, transcending anger and anxiety, and achieving curiosity: “Radar for Leaders” consistently continues down this path.


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