Archive for November, 2010

Nov
23

Where are you on your Personal Evolution: Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs

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Where are you now? Where do you want to be?

My last post referred to Maslow’s Hierarchy.  For those unfamiliar with it and/or interested in more details, Maslow’s basic needs are as follows:

Physiological Needs

These are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the physiological ones would come first in the person’s search for satisfaction.

Safety Needs

When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviors, the needs for security can become active. Adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganization in the social structure (such as widespread rioting). Children often display the signs of insecurity and the need to be safe.

Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness

When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs for love, affection and belongingness can emerge. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging.

Needs for Esteem

When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels self-confident and valuable as a person in the world. When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.

Needs for Self-Actualization

When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.” “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” These needs make themselves felt in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something, in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved or accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it is very easy to know what the person is restless about. It is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization.

The hierarchic theory is often represented as a pyramid, with the larger, lower levels representing the lower needs, and the upper point representing the need for self-actualization.  Maslow believes that the only reason that people would not move well in direction of self-actualization is because of hindrances placed in their way by society.  He states that education is one of these hindrances.  He recommends ways education can switch from its usual person-stunting tactics to person-growing approaches.  Maslow states that educators should respond to the potential an individual has for growing into a self-actualizing person of his/her own kind.  Ten points that educators should address are listed:

  1. We should teach people to be authentic, to be aware of their inner selves and to hear their inner-feeling voices.
  2. We should teach people to transcend their cultural conditioning and become world citizens.
  3. We should help people discover their vocation in life, their calling, fate or destiny. This is especially focused on finding the right career and the right mate.
  4. We should teach people that life is precious, that there is joy to be experienced in life, and if people are open to seeing the good and joyous in all kinds of situations, it makes life worth living.
  5. We must accept the person as he or she is and help the person learn their inner nature. From real knowledge of aptitudes and limitations we can know what to build upon, what potentials are really there.
  6. We must see that the person’s basic needs are satisfied. This includes safety, belongingness, and esteem needs.
  7. We should refreshen consciousness, teaching the person to appreciate beauty and the other good things in nature and in living.
  8. We should teach people that controls are good, and complete abandon is bad. It takes control to improve the quality of life in all areas.
  9. We should teach people to transcend the trifling problems and grapple with the serious problems in life. These include the problems of injustice, of pain, suffering, and death.
  10. We must teach people to be good choosers. They must be given practice in making good choices.

Reference:  Psychology – The Search for Understanding by Janet A. Simons, Donald B. Irwin and Beverly A. Drinnien West Publishing Company, New York, 1987

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The Backstory

I have been thinking a lot this past month about the fact that I am a bit out of whack as it relates to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Ok, so how many of you are thinking “what’s that?” 

Maslow’s hierarchy is something I learned about back in college.  Something that has stuck with me and has demonstrated the power of a good model and/or metaphor.  For those unfamiliar with this model, Maslow’s hierarchy falls within the domain of psychology and was first proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943.  He explains this model in his 1954 book on Motivation and Personality. 

Now you might be thinking “that’s a very old model – 60 years! – does it really apply today”.  While there are those out there that argue with specifics – typically other psychology theoreticians – his model really is very solid overall.  If you want to read details of the model and the criticisms, you can find them on wikipedia.   

I have personally found Maslow’s hierarchy useful in:

  • Understanding where I am
  • Understanding where others are
  • Understanding where I want to or should focus time and energy
  • Identifying what is most needed and how to best help 
  • Answering the question “are you solving the right problem?” 

I’ve observed that some business interventions (and social too) are geared towards higher levels when the people who are in the midst of the change really need help with feeling that the lower levels are stable.  Something for you to think about during your next Change Program…   How might this affect how you craft Communications?

Maslow’s hierarchy is often seen as a pyramid.  The idea being that you are climbing to the top.  At the top of the pyramid is this concept of self-actualization. 

Self-actualization (in my terms, not necessarily Maslow’s) is when you reach that place of full potential.  You are becoming the person you want to be, what you are capable of, and expressing yourself and your beliefs.  You are truly living who you are.  However, to reach this level, all the other levels must be in place and stable.  In order to self-actualize, you must first master the four levels of needs found below:  physiological, safety, love, and esteem.  

Recently I’ve been feeling like I’m sliding backwards.  I also know that I am not alone in that feeling these days.  With all the chaos in the world these days – layoffs, business challenges, foreclosures – it can be hard to find time and/or energy to focus on yourself.  Where you truly are and who you truly want to be. 

I’ve been thinking about the fact that I want to be working on level 5, but that I seem to be living in the chaos of level 2, safety.  Safety you say?  Well in Maslow’s hierarchy, safety includes the roof over one’s head.  I find it hard to write, share, and support others the way I truly want to when faced with the on-going stress of keeping the house over our family’s head.  Sound like anyone you might know?  Yourself maybe?

The Story

If you have been reading my recent posts you will know that I have been talking (and thinking alot) about Elephants.  Today I realized that I have the big, hairy, ugly Elephant sitting on my shoulder with his trunk shoved into my ear repeating these phrases (or something similar):

  • “you are not good enough”
  • “you can’t keep up”
  • “you are letting other people down”
  • “who are you to think that you can write those books”

Mighty Mouse as envisioned by Sydney Purvis, age 8 upon hearing this story. ~~~@o:>

Guilt, guilt, guilt.  I’m sure you’ve been there, felt that.  Anyone saying “been there, done that”?

Ah ha, I went.  There’s an Elephant.  It’s hitting on my Maslow’s level 4.  I can name it.  It’s the Insecurity Elephant.  I can own it.  I can change it. 

So I decided to take action.  To get out my Mighty Mouse to fight that Elephant.  I’m going to own that Elephant and then kick it off my shoulder – metaphorically that is.

So here’s my Mighty Mouse  ~~~@:> (who I designed earlier today when emailing a friend).  Mighty Mouse, go to work my friend.  ~~~@:>  SQUEEAAKEEEEE!!!

Whew. 

In addition to helping myself mentally, when that metaphorical squeak resounded earlier today I thought hey, something to share.  Something to send out to the readers with hope that it helps, even if just a bit.  Bonanza, something that I can do related to Maslow’s level 5!  So here I am tonight, writing. 

Mighty Mouse might be small and often overlooked, but small things can have big impacts.  (Just ask the lady who gets a small box with an engagement ring in it)  Biggest isn’t always best.  Our self-dialog isn’t always helpful.  If nothing else I hope that my Mighty Mouse makes you laugh, even if only inside.  Laughter truly is good for you…in more ways that we often realize.   

I ask you to join me.  Let’s take some control back.  Maybe it will last for just a day, maybe for a week.  But that’s better than before. 

So I’m sending out my Mighty Mouse to visit you.  When in need call to Mighty Mouse.  Feel free to ask Mighty Mouse to help you with any of the Elephant(s) on your shoulder.  Don’t be afraid to send them to visit a friend too, Mighty Mouse travels well over email after all.

Here’s a Mighty Mouse for you.  ~~~@:>  SQUEEAAKEEEEE!!!

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes