Abraham Maslow lived from 1908 to 1970 and is called The Father of Humanistic Psychology. That means he lived 72 years and has been gone from this world for 51 years. So, you might ask, “What does Abe Maslow have to do with the pandemic?

My answer is, “Everything!” Maslow crafted his theory on the Hierarchy of needs in 1943. This five-tiered model was in Developmental Psychology which at that time was revolutionary and focused on the evolution of individuals, families, organizations, and countries. The original five levels are:

  1. Survival
  2. Security
  3. Belonginess
  4. Self-esteem
  5. Self-actualization

Maslow’s premise is that is one is concerned with survival, that orientation is all-consuming. There is no energy left for the higher needs. As an entity evolves, and survival is no longer a serious concern, then the next level is security,  protecting one’s family, home, possessions. As the evolution of the self continues in the triangle of Human needs, belongingness takes hold. When survival and security have been addressed and are no longer a concern the entity seeks to belong. The need to belong is so deeply rooted that it includes significant others, family, friends, colleagues, and any organization that embraces them as they are. The fourth level is Self-Esteem and is focused on respect, status, recognition, and freedom. The fifth level is Self-actualization which is seeking satisfaction, fulfillment, and making a difference. If you look closely at the five levels, you will easily be able to see those whom you know in one of the five categories. They may change their orientation by sliding up or down the triangle, however, they

Will land on a level that reflects their mental-emotional- psychological, and physical condition at the time.

If you reflect on the pandemic, you can easily see those who are focused on Survival…staying alive. You can see those who are concerned with Security and holding on to what they have. Many people are in these two categories. There are those who are seeking to Belong to a group larger than themselves. They may be pursuing this for validation, for comfort, or to confirm their identity. Some are in Self-esteem and those are seeing the opportunities that can provide them with “more.” More could be defined as more power, more prestige, more money, more exposure, more notoriety, and the list goes on and on. The final group, the Self-actualizers are doing whatever they can to help those on levels 1, 2, and 3.

This level is easily recognized as the caregivers, those in healthcare who put other’s needs before their own.

Notice where you are on the triangle. Ask yourself if you want to stay where you are. If you want to change, ask yourself what you must do to go to the next level.

This is your opportunity to step-up to a newer version of yourself. Map out your steps and execute!

Excerpted from MMS Worldwide Institute’s Transformational Executive Coach Certification Program.

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