How relevant is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs Today?

In 1954 Abraham Maslow posited a Hierarchy of Human Needs based on two groupings: deficiency needs and growth needs. Within the deficiency needs, each lower need must be met before moving to the next higher level. Once each of these needs has been satisfied, if at some future time a deficiency is detected, the individual will act to remove the deficiency. The first four levels are:

1) Physiological: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts, etc.;

2) Safety/security: out of danger;

3) Belongingness and Love: affiliate with others, be accepted; and

4) Esteem: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition.

When these first four levels are met, we are free to focus on the fifth which he called Self-Actualisation, which included appreciation for life and a focus on personal growth. In 1998 he differentiated this fifth level into four, but most people are only familiar with the original five levels as this is the widely distributed model.

I decided to utilise Maslow’s model because I thought it would make a great vessel of self-discovery in a workshop setting.  I imagine that most people can accept intellectually the concept that we need to have our deficiency needs met before we can progress, but I wonder if you have actually spent time investigating exactly how this shows up in your life?

Let’s take for example the issue of safety/security.  What exactly are your needs here? Some people need to live in a near fortress, while others can live without fear in a tent. Some people require hundreds of thousands in the bank, yet other people live quite happily in debt. The key point here, is not that we are all different, but to know consciously what your own needs are, and what happens when your needs are met, and what happens when they are not. It would also be interesting to know the impact on you if your partner has different needs, or your company is pursuing a risky growth strategy and you are risk averse, or vice versa.

Because most of our decisions and actions are unconscious, it’s likely that you haven’t considered these needs before, and if Maslow is correct; if these deficiency needs are not met, you will be unable to make progress on your personal growth.

If you do not grow as an individual, you are doomed to be stuck where you are.

If this is something you are interested in exploring, the workshop details are here, and if the dates/venue don’t work for you, you can either explore this with some coaching, or let me know and let’s see if a different time/place can be arranged.