Friday, March 24, 2006

What does it for you? #1.

What drives you? (NB.For details of availability of this article,
please contact Robert L Fielding)


Robert Leslie Fielding

Are you driven by needs beyond your control – are you motivated by the need to create, or are you on automatic pilot, moved only by your basic needs?

Finding out answers to those questions could improve your life.

Believing that man is basically trustworthy, self-protecting and self-governing, and tends towards growth and love, the psychologist Maslow, put forward his hierarchy of needs to indicate what motivates and drives people.

He moved away from the pessimism of Freud and the behaviourism of Skinner to show that things like war, murder and deceit tend to occur when human needs are thwarted.

He divided people’s needs into physiological needs – our basic needs for food, air and water, safety needs – these are connected to establishing stability and consistency in our lives, and include such things as security and safety, love needs – belonging to others (family, group, community, nation, religious groups) we need to feel loved and accepted by others, esteem needs – the self-esteem that comes mastery or competence of tasks, and the recognition and attention that comes from others.

His final division is self-actualization – the desire to become everything that one is capable of becoming. It is this fulfilling this drive that makes the difference between an ordinary life and one that takes the road less traveled.

With Mums and Dads this can take the form of wishing the best for the children and in doing the best for them so that they achieve their true potential. It used to be said that success was improving on what your parents achieved.

For younger people though, improving on what Dad used to do might not cut it – individuals have a need to be just that, to strike out in some direction that takes them to their own ambitions.

In these terms, successful parents are those who give their children roots and wings – roots in the home and in the benefits and advantages that being properly brought up can give, and wings to fly, to find new space, room to move and be yourself, to do the things you truly want to do, not because your parents want it for you, though that is nice if it coincides with your own ambitions, but because they are of your own making and choosing.

But there can be conflicts here – between what is accepted by your peers and what are truly your own needs. Too many young people seem to put the need for esteem before the need for self-actualization.

For Maslow, the need for esteem comes before self-actualization – and here I think he is wrong. Your own ambitions and achievements, if they are truly your own, should ensure the admiration of those around you. If they do not, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are not worth admiring, but rather that they interfere with others’ sense of self-esteem and worth. “To thine own self be true!” was good advice to Laertes in ‘Hamlet’, and it’s good advice to you too.

In modern parlance, “Give it your best shot.” Achieve what you are really capable of achieving and your life will not have been wasted.
Robert L. Fielding


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