In his paper ‘a theory of human motivation’, Abraham Maslow, the American psychologist, said that people had five sets of needs which come in a particular order. They are;
Physiological needs (water, air, sex)
Clothing and shelter (safety)
love and belonging (social needs)
Self actualisation (fulfillment)
I was introduced to Maslow and his ‘hierarchy of needs’ in the early Eighties whilst studying in Battersea. My memory of it has been long lasting and the graphic that was used to display his theory was in the form of a triangle. The pinnacle being self-actualisation or fulfillment.
This year is the seventieth anniversary of that original publication and the theory is still being accessed by education, degree courses and management training modules.
Business managers use Abe’s hierarchy to identify the needs of their staff and help them feel fulfilled in the work place, the original triangles contents being replaced with a sub-set of needs;
Salary and decent working conditions
Friendly supervision and a team approach
Flash job title and recognition of achievements
The opportunity for creativity, promotion and personal growth
As unemployment becomes a fiscal focus for interest rates, It is questionable that the sub set can be a useful tool for business managers. Job security has become a loose canon and flashy titles ended in the eighties.
Of course this will not ‘fit’ everyone and Maslows' theories have been reworked, cast out and plagerised for many years, but in essence, his work on us complicated beings has provoked thought and a greater understanding of how we live and work. And as the man himself said;
“What a man can be, he must be.”
Maslow also thought that only two percent of folk reached ‘self-actualisation’ and it was really difficult to find any of them!
He did however compile a list of famous people he considered to have reached this state and they included Einstein, Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Beethoven.
He also added they were unusually creative, spontaneous and had a strange sense of humour - sounds like some restaurant folk I know!