Here’s a question for you – do you know where you are? Do you know where you’re going? Do you know where you even want to be?
Chances are – you do! You just don’t consciously know it yet.
We all want to be somewhere, somebody, some ‘thing’. We all have basic needs to be fulfilled. We also have want, desires and dreams. Yet not everyone seems to fulfil them. Why is this the case for so many?
Why is it so many people never actually get to where they want to go?
Why is it that their needs are never fully realised?
Did you know there is something that can help you ‘map’ where you are(and identify where you need to go to?)
Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970) was an academic psychologist in the Humanist School of thought who wanted to study what motivates human beings to achieve. To this end, he began studying the process of motivation and ended up devising a theory based on achievement through the attainment of needs. These needs exist in a hierarchy, all of which must be fulfilled in order to progress up to the next level. Maslow illustrated this in terms of a pyramid:
In order to exist at each level, a human being must have their needs met. These needs are as follows:
- Basic physiological needs: shelter, clothing, food, excretion, sex, sleep.
- Safety needs: law and order, safety, security, limits.
- Love and belonging: love, family, affection, belonging, relationships.
- Self-esteem: self-esteem, achievement, independence, mastery, dominance, responsibility, standing.
- Self-actualisation: creativity, spiritual, self-fulfilment, peak potential, personal growth.
The first four needs were seen as basic (or deficiency), and each had to be met sequentially before the individual could rise to the self-actualisation level (or state of growth.) The journey through these levels is therefore one of fulfilment. Once level 5 is reached, a person is deemed to have reached the highest pinnacle of achievement and enlightenment (some additional levels were added in the 1970s and 1990s after Maslow’s death, but for the purposes of this article I’ll stick with the original five.)
All human beings are theoretically capable of moving from level 1 to 5. However, an inability to have one’s needs met at a lower level (e.g. divorce or break-up at level 3) will strongly impede a persons’ ability to progress beyond that level to self-actualisation.
Check out this video from YouTube for more illustration on how Maslow’s pyramid operates:
Okay, so what?
If you didn’t watch the video, you’re probably thinking this question now and wondering how this applies to the achievement of success. If you did, you might have an inkling as to how it can assist you.
The video cited the example of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rise from unknown Austrian body-builder to governor of California. The basic principle was that, after fulfilling all his needs at the basic levels, he was able to rise to the point of self-actualisation (having achieved status at 4 through his films etc.) to become a successful politician.
This therefore illustrates how you can use the pyramid to gauge how far you are from obtaining success. All you need to know is where you are on the pyramid, whether your needs are fulfilled or not and what you need to do to elevate yourself to the next level. By using this model to gauge your current status, you can map your own position in relation to the achievement of success and peak potential. If you like, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a road-map to fulfilment.
This is actually quite a simple approach to take which can be used quite effectively to help define your life’s journey.
(Of course, it could be argued that a person could have different needs fulfilled at different levels whilst others are lacking. For instance, you might feel you have your basic, safety and self-esteem needs met – but, perhaps not all your love and belonging needs met. However, if this is the case, then I would argue that you are going to continue to be deficient in the love/belonging level until this is resolved and consequently you will not be able to operate efficiently at the higher level anyway. So the lower level deficiency would cancel the higher level benefits out. In any case, a person will not progress to self-actualisation unless they have all the four deficient needs fulfilled!)
So, in conclusion, Maslow’s theory can be very useful in helping you map your way to success.
Try applying the hierarchy of needs to your own life to find out where you are now (and what you need) to map your journey to fulfilment:
|Hierarchy level||Needs fulfilled – Y/N||If so, list how they are here||If not, what can you do to fulfil your needs?||Action Plan (what steps can you take to move to the next level.)|
|1) Basic physiological needs: shelter, clothing, food, excretion, sex, sleep.|
|2) Safety needs: law and order, safety, security, limits.|
|3) Love and belonging: love, family, affection, belonging, relationships.|
|4) Self-esteem: self-esteem, achievement, independence, mastery, dominance, responsibility, standing.|
|5) Self-actualisation: creativity, spiritual, self-fulfilment, peak potential, personal growth.|
To find out more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and some other great resources linked to the theory, click this link here: http://www.businessballs.com/maslow.htm
Also, check this article on Mindtools as to how Maslow’s theory can be applied to managing teams: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_92.htm
What do you think? Add your comment below if you agree with the theory or disagree. If you have made use of this exercise and have found it useful, your feedback would be most appreciated!
McLeod, S. A. (2007). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
Chapman, Alan (1995 – 2012). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from http://www.businessballs.com/maslow.htm
Mindtools (1996-2013). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Building a Happier, More Satisfied Team. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_92.htm