Welcome to Week 5 of our series on the 6 Core Human Needs – the needs we all share that drive our decision making and behaviour. So far, we’ve discussed the need for Certainty, UNcertainty, Significance, and Love & Connection. If you missed any of them, you can click on the links to find the articles.
The first four needs are considered needs of the personality. We all find ways to meet these either by working harder, by creating problems, by seeking attention. Today we move on to what are considered needs of the spirit. These are the two needs that determine whether we feel truly fulfilled in life and they are far more rarely met. The first need of the spirit is Growth.
Growth is the need to improve ourselves, to always be moving towards a better place physically, mentally and emotionally. To be maturing, to be advancing. This need for growth pertains to all parts of our lives – not only to us as individuals, but to our relationships and our businesses as well. There’s a well-known quote that says “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” which I always envisage being said by an incredibly energetic person to people with considerably less energy. It’s true though, when you consider that the alternatives to growth are stagnation, deterioration and eventually, death. So let’s have a look at this need in more depth, today starting with the unmet need:
The Unmet Need for Growth
Because Growth is one of our Core Human Needs we seek it at a fundamental level, and if we’re not growing there will be something inside of us calling for it. Personally, I think what makes growth so difficult and illusive to many people are the level of discomfort and energy required.
Nothing grows in a comfort zone – meaning once we dig ourselves into our current environment and satisfy our need for certainty with everything we know for sure, we start to feel secure and enjoy that feeling. We know our routine; we know what we’re good at; we know how things work and what to expect. We’ve established that this satisfies Need #1. Thereafter, we jiggle the boundaries in line with our own comfort levels, seeking enough uncertainty and variety to keep life exciting. We seek significance in this environment we’ve created, and we set up relationships and communities that satisfy our need for love and connection. All of this takes up a considerable amount of energy – especially once it all gets rolling.
If you live in an environment where meeting and maintaining the first four needs has taken a larger than average amount of energy, or if your environment keeps shifting, forcing you to readjust, then you’re going to have spent the larger portion of your energy on calculating those moves and have little left for considering growth. When we get ourselves into a position where our energy starts to flag for any reason, we start to feel uncertain. And what do we do with that uncertainty? We try and balance it with more certainty, hunkering down in our comfort zone.
Humans will endure amazing levels of negativity (abuse, bad living conditions, toxic working environment, bad culture) as long as it feels predictable to them. It feels as if it requires more energy to make a change and to grow, to choose something new and different, than to endure their current environment.
And yet….the need remains – creating dissatisfaction and dissent at a deep level – creating undercurrents the same as any unmet need will do.
Meeting the Need for Growth
Meeting the need for growth therefore requires that we pause and take a serious look at ourselves and our environment. We need to ask ourselves as individuals “Am I growing?”, “Are my relationships growing?”, “Is my business growing?”. We need to list the ways in which we’re growing to support our argument, or acknowledge that we could use some work on meeting this need.
In order to address our need for Growth effectively, we must negotiate the two issues we’ve referred to above: discomfort and lack of energy.
In my experience, unless you’re willing to create your own discomfort and grow occasionally, life is likely to shove you out the end of your comfort zone unceremoniously. Therefore, perhaps it’s worth us looking for that growth voluntarily, or at least embracing the opportunities when they present themselves, no matter how nervous-making they may seem. Meet someone new and make the effort to meet up a few times until you can establish a decent rapport. Take on a project that stretches you into new areas of effort. Learn something new about something that interests you – there are gazillions of available outlets for information these days from TEDTalks, to YouTube, to online books and audio – and there are always talks and community efforts happening right on your back door step if you pause to find out. Take whatever baby steps are needed to push your comfort zone one more click out from where ever it currently resides.
In terms of energy, no one has control over your own energy other than you. You wake up every morning with a new opportunity to decide how to manage that energy. If you’re allowing it to be sapped by outside forces, choose to manage that differently and stop paying energy tax to things you can’t control. If you don’t know what that looks like, start a conversation about it with some friends or find an qualified individual to confide in. Put decent fuel in your body, and make sure your body is tuned up enough to be of use to you. Do the same for your brain.
Acknowledge different seasons – as much as Mother Nature’s seasons follow each other, so do ours. There’s a lot to be said for acknowledging how she handles hers and replicating it. For example, during Spring and Summer when there are plenty of resources to go around, trees put their energy towards growing bigger branches and a beautiful display of leaves, flowers and fruit. In Winter though, the same show would be foolhardy. Trees in Winter conserve their energy and put it to use in a different manner. They thicken their bark and deepen their roots to weather the current season and prepare for the next. If you’d like to read more about managing your seasons, I have an article on it here.
The bottom line is that Growth is one of our fundamental human needs. It must be satisfied or it will create discomfort and negative behaviour in us, whether we’re aware of it or not. Without Growth, we have nothing to give the world; nothing of value to offer.
Prepare yourself to grow. Assess your energy levels, reclaim any wasted energy and redistribute it accordingly. Clear your space out – “stuff” collected in our search for certainty can contain a lot of energy we could be using more wisely. Reassess what it is you want to aim at and what interests you. Direction and aim balance our need for certainty in a far healthier way than clinging to a comfort zone does. Ask your team at home and at work how they’d like to grow and what they’re doing about it. Find ways to support them. Be accountable and encouraging towards each other.
Readdress your business direction and discuss it with your team. Get everyone on board with the idea of growth and discuss what size steps everyone would be comfortable with taking. Watch how discussion alone starts to renew your energy and focus. If you’d like help creating and directing these discussions in your team, give me a call!
If you’re having problems moving off your current level of energy or viewpoint, here are 101 Life-Changing Quotes For Stress Relief That Will Help You Relax. Find some you agree with and stick them somewhere where they will help you focus.
by Christen Killick
July 15th, 2019