How Grown-Ups Grow Up explores the beautiful, messy paths to life-long growth into more maturity and wisdom.

Learn how the science of adult developmental psychology translates into practical insights you can take into coaching, facilitation, leadership, parenting and life.

woman facilitator leading a workshop

About Alis Anagnostakis (Ph.D., PCC)

I work at the intersection of worlds: research, coaching, and facilitation. I am an adult development researcher, professional coach (and coach mentor) and facilitator. I am the founder of the Vertical Development Institute and an adjunct research fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia). In my research, I focus on studying leaders’ lived experience of transformative growth towards later stages of consciousness and ways to foster that growth through learning programs.

I also live at the intersection of worlds: I am an Australian of Romanian origin, with a Greek name (‘anagnosis’ means ‘the one who reads’ - a perfect summary of my inherent ‘nerdiness’). I live on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland, with my daughter, husband and our goofy cobber dog, Otto.

I am at the core an ‘in-between-er’ - walking on bridges between fields of research, cultures and ways of seeing the world.

Throughout my life and work, I am guided by two fundamental questions:

How can human beings grow wiser? And how can we harness human maturity in the service of a wiser world?

Join me in this space to explore these questions together.

Why subscribe?

Here we make Vertical Development simple, clear and practical!

While much valuable content exists on the topic of adult development, often its practical implications and applications are obscured in academic language. Through our articles, podcasts, webinars and courses, I and my guests aim to make this complex theory easily accessible and practically relevant, while preserving its rigour and constantly offering you resources to dive deeper if you wish.

Are you a leader, coach, facilitator, L&D expert, educator or in any role where you support others’ development? Join our nerdy community!

Join us to explore what vertical development is, and why it is crucial to ‘growing up’, ‘staying sane’ and ‘staying wise’ in a world that is getting more chaotic by the minute.

Become part of a community of learners who share a passion for human development and an aspiration to cultivate more wisdom in a disrupted world! I encourage you to engage with the content - comment, ask questions and let us know what VD topics interest you - I’ll always keep an eye on your suggestions and let them guide new content.

Every article and podcast episode in this newsletter will be free forever - this is my commitment to making this work available to as many people as possible.

As our group of explorers grows, I will create separate offerings for those of you keen to become paid subscribers - including weekly chats, Q&As on adult development, webinars, courses and more. You are welcome to pledge your support if you’d like to join this smaller group of deep divers when the paid subscriptions go online.

Where to start?

Here’s a brief intro into vertical development and, below, a list of articles you can start with - all of them in the ‘Nerdy Bits’ section.

What is vertical development and why does it matter?

For a very long time, the word ‘development’ was associated with childhood. It was universally accepted that children grow not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and socially - that they transform into increasingly mature versions of themselves until they finally become ‘grown-ups’ and somehow, it was assumed development stops. Today we know that, in fact, ‘growing up’ never ends. We keep on transforming throughout our lives, breaking down and breaking through, shedding old ways of being and evolving into new, ever more complex and, with a bit of luck, ever wiser ones.

This process has been called ‘adult development’ or, more recently, ‘vertical development’. Unlike ‘horizontal development’ which aims to add knowledge, information or skills to one’s existing worldview, ‘vertical development’ signals a fundamental evolution in the worldview itself. It comes about when we can LOOK AT a mindset we were before LOOKING THROUGH.

HORIZONTAL is about WHAT we know. VERTICAL is about HOW we know.

Vertical development describes how human beings grow into ever more complex stages of cognitive, emotional, interpersonal and spiritual maturity, whereby they become able to respond to the world in ever more sophisticated ways. While a common criticism of vertical development is its seemingly hierarchical nature, we believe at its core this type of human growth is less like climbing a ladder and more like playing a piano.

Want to learn more? Start here:

Why vertical development is such an important topic for these times:

Why leaders should care about vertical development? Spoiler alert - it is linked to effectiveness, particularly in-midst of change and ambiguity!

How does vertical development actually happen? One article debunking the myth that vertical development is linear and hierarchical and another exploring my research on emotions and their crucial role in vertical development:

What else? Check out the podcast!

Every month a different guest comes to shed light on vertical development. I invite leaders, parents, researchers, coaches share their personal stories of growth and lessons they discovered along the way. Every episode leaves you with actionable insights you can start experimenting with right away.

Listen to the podcast

I hope you enjoy the learning and looking forward to nerding out with you!

Subscribe to Vertical Development: How Grown-ups Grow Up

Are you a leader, coach, facilitator, L&D expert or educator? Join me to unpack the science of vertical development, make it practical, and discover why it is crucial to staying sane and growing wise in a world that is getting more chaotic by the minute.


I'm an adult development researcher, group facilitator, coach mentor and learning designer. I study how leaders grow towards more maturity and wisdom and how transformative (vertical) development can be fostered at scale.