Today is a holiday for most people in my part of the world; a long weekend of one or other description. It’s a time to pause and recharge. It’s the August opportunity to break the cycle and “go fishing” (whatever that may look like in your world). For that reason, today I’d like to take the opportunity to remind you – that you’re human.
We’ve spoken about it on different platforms, in different ways, many times over the past few months. Our humanness has demonstrated its good, bad and ugly sides during this current phase of our lives. It turns out that little reminds you that you’re more human than a pandemic that rocks our world. We’ve cycled through different emotions, different experiences, and many different outcomes; and now we’ve reached the part of the year where we’re realising “normal” isn’t coming back in a hurry and we’d probably be wise to start considering what the next plan is.
“Human” is what I love most about the work that I do with people and their teams. The intricacies that make us all individual and unique. The commonalities that tie us together and the diversity that set us apart and make each one of us valuable. I love the strengths, the weaknesses, the quirks, the vulnerabilities, the courage. The human heart is a fabulous thing!!
More often than not, at the moment I’m encountering humans who are trying to get somewhere – wherever it is they perceive they need to aim at next for their sanity – humans who want to be effective, and who want to make change, who want to make their mark. Humans who are very, very tired. Bone tired. Heart tired. Soul tired. Many who are scared but doing it anyway. For that reason, I’d like to use the rest of this space to remind you how we function, and to call some awareness to what it is we need in order to do what we’re asking of ourselves and others.
I’d like to use two tools to remind you of this. Both I’ve spoken about previously because they resonate with me and they continue to be relevant wherever I look. Where I’ve spoken more in depth on them before, I shall link to that body rather than writing a book right here. It is Monday, after all!
The first is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
In the first half of last century, Abraham Maslow wrote a paper on “The Theory of Human Motivation”, in which he supposed that there was a hierarchy structure to what motivates us on a daily basis, and that only when we’ve dealt with the things at the bottom of the hierarchy can we move on to “greater things”. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is structured like the pyramid you see here. Very simply, it’s like playing a video game. You start on the bottom level dealing with the things that affect your basic physiological survival, and when you’ve got that sorted, you can move up to the next level and start to deal with your safety needs. The theory is that we spend our lives seeking to progress up this pyramid, eventually developing ourselves into more sophisticated humans.
As you read through this diagram, you’ll notice that the lower levels represent people who are struggling with the basics. Perhaps they’re homeless. Perhaps they’re struggling to put food on the table. Further up, you’ll notice the types of attributes needed for managerial and higher business thinking. The more fulfilling side of human development – things like creativity and achieving our potential.
I’m not going to go into any great depth here. What I want to point out is that, rather than climbing this pyramid, we are currently cycling through it. For the most part, when we start to shake ourselves off and ask ourselves “Right! What next?!” – we’re requiring the energy of creative thinking, of self-actualisation. And yet, if you’re honest about assessing yourself right now…where would you say your thoughts and energy have been for the past few months? As a species, we’ve had our mortality threatened. Our stability. In many cases, our ability to support ourselves. For many of us, we’re psychologically cycling through the bottom couple of layers of this diagram, requiring ourselves and others to have top level thinking in order to move forward. Is it any wonder we’re tired?
What I’m asking is that you have some awareness for how you’re functioning. That you recognise that you may very validly NEED a reset and a recharge more often than you’re used to. To recognise that when you ask others for thoughts and decisions, they may be slower than normal and require more chewing to get somewhere good. Be patient. With yourself and with others.
The second tool I’d like to remind you of, are the 6 Core Human Needs.
Now, I wrote a series of articles on these, which I’ll link to below if you’d like to go more in depth; but the premise here is that, as different as we are, we all have the same 6 Core Human Needs. Whether we realise it or not, most of the decisions we make and behaviours we take are governed by our deep-seated need to balance these needs. They are:
Each of these needs is a spectrum, and it’s a very individual thing where we sit on each spectrum. Some of us need more certainty than others. Some of us need more variety. For some, their life’s quest is for significance. I can guarantee that when one or more of these needs is off balance, you’ll be moving to try and rebalance. This can cause some very interesting behaviour in us. Behaviour that may even be causing you to raise your OWN eyebrow as you witness yourself. If we feel out of control in one area, often we’ll try and balance that by taking more control in another area, for example. If you’re feeling out of balance, it would be worth you trying to ascertain where that imbalance lies for yourself and finding a desirable way of regaining that balance.
In summary, we are intricate beings dealing with a very strange chapter of our lives. We’re aiming to move forward in a world where nothing is recognisable right now and where impediments abound. And we’re doing so without our usual verve and mindfulness. Acknowledging ourselves and our humanness now is a very real and very necessary step in our future success. Pause. Take stock. Readjust. Prioritise. Move forward.
by Christen Killick
August 10th, 2020