What motivates people to reach their full potential? Why do some people look like they have it all figured out while others stumble in mediocrity all their lives, blaming chance for their missed opportunities? The answer to these questions comes from the psychologist Abraham Maslow who has developed a simple and easy to understand system that is said to hold the key to a person's self-actualization.
Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs", as it is called, depicts a five-level pyramid that holds on each level starting from the most basic to the most complex of human needs from the ground up. The reason it is called the hierarchy of needs is because according to Maslow, it is necessary for an individual to fulfill the needs from the base of the pyramid in order to gain access to the second level and thus be able to move up the pyramid. The Maslow theory suggests that only after the individual has satisfied the need from the top of the pyramid will he reach self-actualization.
But in order to better understand what the Maslow hierarchy is all about, here are the needs that are described on each level of the pyramid:
The first level contains the most basic needs. These are physiological needs that the individual is required to satisfy in order to survive. Such needs are water, sleep, food, shelter and clothes.2nd Safety Needs
On the second level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid are the safety needs. These are not as demanding as the needs on the first level of the pyramid but they too are essential for the individual's survival. Such needs are health, safety against accidents and illnesses and financial security.3rd Social Needs
The need for belongingness and acceptance are on the third level of the hierarchy pyramid. This level is represented by the social needs of an individual and although these needs are not essential for the individual's survival, they play a major part in the individual's life. Not satisfying the need for friendship, intimacy and supportive family will more than likely cause the individual to regress into feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression.4th Self-Esteem
The fourth level of the pyramid is represented by the need of belonging. If not satisfied, this need causes the individual to suffer from an inferiority complex. In order to gain self-respect, people usually engage in activities that give them a sense of contribution.5th Self-Actualization
On the fifth level, the need for self-actualization is on highest level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid. This level can be identified with the concern for personal growth and fulfillment with a disregard for the criticisms of others.
So according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, an individual can only reach his full potential once he has met all the needs from each level of the pyramid. Motivation can be achieved by moving up the levels of the pyramid and overcoming the needs that come along the way.
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