As my regular followers will know, I am a big fan of TED talks. [For a selection of my favourites go to my Facebook page]

I was recently listening to one about feeling secure, which had a section on Maslow’s Hirearchy of Needs. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Maslow, he was a psychologist in the 50’s. In his 1954 book ‘Motivation and Personality’ Maslow developed a five-step pyramid of human needs in which personality development progresses from one step to the next.

The needs of the lower levels, physiological needs like hunger, thirst, shelter, must be satisfied before the next level can be achieved and so on.

The next step, the need for safety, security and order, are essential for dealing with the world. If these needs are met, the individual can progress to the next step, love – the ability to love and be loved. The next step, esteem, requires approval, recognition and acceptance. With these elements in place, the individual can develop high self-esteem and self-respect


The final step, self- actualization, is the utilization of one’s creative potential for self-fulfillment, and for Maslow, is the ultimate goal for human beings.

Self-actualization is really about personal growth and discovery, ‘being all you can be’. But rather than being a fixed state, it is an evolving one as we are permanently on a journey of ‘becoming’.

Maslow measured the extent to which an individual is self-actualized, by their capacity to experience and enjoy peak experiences. This is when we experience the world with wonder, awe and joy.

For each person, the motivation for self-actualization leads them in different directions and could be achieved any number of ways. Some of the characteristics of self-actualized people are:

  1. Good objective judgement, rather than subjective
  2. Seeing problems in terms of challenges requiring solutions
  3. A healthy need for privacy, comfortable being alone
  4. Reliant on own experiences and judgement
  5. Not generally susceptible to social pressures - non-conformist


Filling your creative well

When you look at all these characteristics and the steps to self-actualization, it is not hard to see how Maslow’s work can be applied to you and your business. Starting and developing a business is one of the many ways we can experience self-actualization as we express our inner creativity.  It can also bring us joy and a deep sense of self-fulfillment.

However, it is crucial is that in expressing your creative potential, that you do not let your other needs slip.  I like to call this ‘filling the well’. It’s a simple analogy; you can’t keep drawing from a well that is empty, and you can’t keep being creative, or move forward with your business (or life!) if you are struggling to meet your fundamental needs or have lost sight of what inspires you.

It can be easy to fall in to this trap of ‘running on empty’ when we are so passionate about what we do, and when we have seemingly never-ending workloads.

But if we don’t recognise the signs of burnout, and take some time out, then we not only risk compromising our own health and well-being, but we may also find ourselves letting down our clients and customers; the very people we have worked so hard to find.


Timing is everything

I recently ran some workshops on business planning and bumped in to someone who was thinking about coming along. He said that he thought it would really benefit his business, but perhaps now was not the right time as he had a big project on and was moving house, so would not be able to give it his full attention.

Now this person could probably have found the time to do the workshop, and it might even have helped him and his business, but he was thinking about his basic physical and emotional needs and acknowledging that the timing just wasn’t right for him. In our 24/7 world and with our ever present devices, there will also be something to ‘do’ but it’s important that the time is right.


Meeting your needs and dealing with the world

So if you are finding it hard to:

  • Access your creativity
  • Find new sources of inspiration
  • Make objective decisions
  • Manage your workload comfortably
  • Switch off and find time for yourself

Or if you are getting overly stressed by the day-to-day challenges you face in your business it might be time to review if you are meeting your basic needs for rest, good food, leisure time and time with family/friends, or whatever makes you feel good about yourself.

Use Maslow’s pyramid as your guide, and address which level might need some work before you can get back to being self-actualized and doing what you love.

If you would like some help prioritizing your workload then contact me for a free 30 minute consultation.