Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” is a great life coaching tool, to apply both to yourself and others.
This very well-known model has become popularized in business and education since the late psychologist rolled it out around the middle of the 20th Century. Constructed as a pyramid, it depicts a gradual transcending of key needs, culminating in “self-actualization” and “peak” experiences.
The base of the pyramid represents basic physiological needs such as food, clothing and shelter, which must be in place before a person can even entertain higher creative pursuits with any consistency. The next level up the pyramid is safety needs; when you are living in a war zone or experiencing regular domestic violence or any form of abuse, it is tough to pursue your passions in life.
Moving further up we find esteem needs; having that healthy sense of self, and not being riddled by constant insecurities or a compulsive need to measure up. A holistic embrace of what makes us unique and how we contribute to the world out of that uniqueness gets cemented here. And this paves the way for what Maslow called “self-actualization” at the very apex of the pyramid, where strengths, passions and vocation collide on a regular basis—and we marvel at the rush of “peak” experiences in which we are at our very best.
Google the hierarchy today, print out a copy and keep it nearby as a visual reminder to prompt such self-awareness questions as, “How are you addressing your basic needs? What or who are you taking for granted? With whom do you need thicker boundaries? What steps are you taking this week that position you to embrace the higher levels of the pyramid? What structures, relationships and resources do you have in your life to peel back the wondrous layers of your own mystery, and set the stage for more of those ‘peak’ experiences?”
And then gently help people you care about ask these same questions…for when you are blessed, it is to be a blessing to others.