The new year is approaching and who isn’t invigorated to “create something new.” This is proceeded by feelings of excitement, anticipation, pressure and trepidation.  If the pressure or trepidation takes hold, the “deer in the headlights” takes over.  For others you may appear to be running in circles or no project seems to get accomplished.

Looking at the change you are trying to make through a variety of lenses provides a foundation of understanding.  Understanding releases some of the anxiety creating more space for new to take place.

Often we desire to make a change because we are trying to move away from something that doesn’t feel good, or move towards something we anticipate will feel wonderful. Abraham Maslow, through his power of thoughtful observation, created the Hierarchy of Needs theory back in the 1940’s.  He has challenged us to look at our behavior through a psychological and sociological lens.  Today, business schools discuss motivation based off of Maslow. Television guru’s like Tony Robbins use this work as part of their coaching, makes sense since we are each trying to get our needs met.

As a refresher, here is a run-down on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow believed that these needs are similar to instincts and play a major role in motivating behavior.  Physiological, security, social and esteem needs are said to arise due to deprivation.  Satisfying these needs are urgent to avoid unpleasant or detrimental consequences or unpleasant feelings.  Maslow stresses that one has to satisfy these requirements before moving toward a higher level of personal achievement.

1. Physiological Needs – Food, water, air, sleep.  Obviously, all needs are secondary until these are met.

2. Safety Needs – Safety and security.  An example of security needs can be steady employment, health insurance, and shelter from the environment.

I would suggest, that when one is struggling trying to meet both of these levels, there is significantly less time and emotional energy left for the pursuit of Social, Esteem and Self-Actualization needs.

3. Social Needs – Such as belonging, love and affection.  Maslow considered these needs to be less basic than physiological and security needs. I would add, the ability to satisfy these needs offers not only value and purpose but an emotional protection and sense of safety.  We can say safety has two parts, one being physical and the other, emotional.

4. Esteem Needs – Feelings of personal esteem, social recognition  & accomplishment.  After the first three levels are accomplished, esteem needs become increasingly important.  I believe this is when people will have a “stirring” that something just isn’t enough.  For instance, one may acknowledge that their work is monetarily satisfying but doesn’t fulfill other values.  This can also be true of a relationship.

5. Self-Actualization – Maslow described this not as coming from a deficit, but as an internal drive to grow as a person.  To become self-aware,  less concerned with the opinions of others and more concerned with fulfilling authentic potential.

In a future blog we will review an Inquiry Process that provides different critera with which to explore decisions.  We’ll look at four themes:  Cultivate, Challenge, Create Choice, and Change (with grace.)