Top 10 Reasons Maslow Had It Right

Pyramid diagram of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Image source: Kevin Michaluk

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.” In studying exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, this model represents the progression of human needs with the more basic needs at the bottom. The premise is that everyone is striving for the ultimate Self-Actualization within their lifetime.  Source:’s_hierarchy_of_needs


1. You have needs.

Your needs are diverse from safety, love and ego to understanding our greater purpose.

2. The needs you have as a human being are universal.

According to recent research, these same needs are shared among civilizations across the world. Every day, someone is experiencing the same feelings as you right now.

3. Each need must be satisfied before you’re able to focus and be motivated by the next level of higher needs.

It’s near impossible to have your need of love and belonging met, if you can’t breathe or lack shelter.

4. Needs which are not satisfied completely distract from moving upwards.

Ever heard of the expression “death by 1,000 cuts?” Each smaller need or challenge weighs on you, preventing you from investing your full attention on the next level of personal need.

5. Holding self-esteem needs exclusively within your area of work may negatively impact your ability to balance.

In this model, self-esteem is you as a person, not you the professional, employee or business owner. If your identity is your career, this may be a contributing factor when not reaching self-actualization.

6. Implied in Maslow’s model is you need to satisfy your needs first  to be a stronger support for others.

You must know what you want and then satisfy your needs, which better serves your loved ones and community or even your global contribution.

7. When you attempt a higher need and ignore the lower level ones, you create inner conflict.

Perhaps it’s guilt, regret or embarrassment that comes with working across these needs out of order. If you’re looking for acceptance yet lack self-confidence, what happens?

8. To reach the self-esteem level, you must love and know yourself.

Yes, self-love and knowing your personal values is like an inner compass keeping you aligned and authentic in your life.

9. The hierarchy doesn’t separate between the work “you” and the personal “you.”

Who you are in different contexts is one and the same.

10. Only when all the lower level needs are met, can you begin to reach what Maslow called Self-Actualization.

This is ultimate fulfillment and knowing your greater purpose. This is when you find happiness and living the life you want.

Where are you at on this pyramid? Send your thoughts and comments below.

Disclaimer: The insights in this article are from a personal perspective and are not a substitute for professional psychological guidance.

Email me at for career questions you have or if you would like a PDF copy of this blog post.

Curious to try 20 self-discovery strategies and exercises for your career direction?
Join others who now see their strengths, weaknesses, drivers and values in a new way with this self-guided DIY resource. If you liked this post, you’ll love my book, “Finding Passion: A Self-Discovery Approach for Navigating Career Crossroads” to help you ask the tough questions you’ve been avoiding and rediscover what you really want in your career. Available on Amazon.

JESSICA MANCA is a certified coach, author, entrepreneur and former management consultant. Jessica founded Managing Mindspaces, a professional coaching firm, providing sensible career and life coaching services to professionals making life-changing decisions.

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3 thoughts on “Top 10 Reasons Maslow Had It Right

  1. […]  Abraham Maslow told us very plainly that human beings don’t want to make a contribution to something larger than themselves; they NEED to. It is in the very fabric of the human condition to connect ourselves and to lend our strengths to something of significance. Organizations predictably get lost in the weeds of the “how” – the executional and operational details of their existence – before focusing on the “what” and the “where” – questions if answered well that connect us to what matters most: meaning, learning and connection. […]

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