What Are Your Needs?

February 27, 2020

A simple question, but when was the last time you gave yourself permission and a little bit of time to consider the answer?

If you can’t remember that’s not a good sign as for any individual consistently meeting these needs is fundamental to positive mental health and for any leader their effectiveness in their role in building the long term sustainability of their organisation.

So where can you start?

We recommend a framework developed by Tony Robbins, one of the world’s leading thinkers on personal development, but built on the work of renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow and the conflict scholar John Burton. 

Maslow famously talked about a hierarchy of human needs, starting with basic elements such as food, water and shelter and working up through safety, love/belonging and esteem to, at the pinnacle, self-actualisation (see diagram below). Burton and others challenged this, however, suggesting that human needs are simultaneous, not hierarchical.

Robbins synthesised these positions, arguing that everybody is driven by a need to fulfil one or more of six basic human needs. While we all have all six, everyone is unique and so the value we put on each need will differ. Indeed, the emphasis can often shift as we go through life. 

  1. Certainty – that things will unfold as imagined 
  2. Uncertainty – that life will serve up its share of variety 
  3. Significance – the sense of being special or unique 
  4. Love and connection the feeling of togetherness or intimacy 
  5. Growth the feeling that we’re making progress 
  6. Contribution – the feeling that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves 

Considering your own current personal mix is a good starting-point for developing a clear personal purpose, so take a little time to complete the following exercise: 

Reflecting on your life in general (personal and work) write down the answers to these questions: 

  • Which of the six basic human needs do you habitually meet? 
  • Which of these needs are not being met currently? 
  • Which needs would you like to meet more often? 
  • What are the top three trade-offs or conflicts over what you would like and what you’re currently experiencing? 

Looking at your answers, how do you feel about what they reveal? 

And, crucially, what would you like to do about it?

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