Maslow and Me

I first learned about Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs over twenty years ago. I immediately was drawn to the concepts and excited to utilize them to understand people better. Basically, Maslow suggested that every person gets their needs met in a certain order. If the “lowest levels” of needs are not met, then those needs will be the main focus of that person’s life. Understanding this about people can really help you meet them where they are. It can also help you meet your goals.

It is pretty difficult for a person feel like they are successful when they are struggling to pay their power bill each month. People can, of course, have desires for more and higher levels. But they won’t be able to really focus on those higher levels until the lower levels are satisfied to some degree.

Basic Survival Needs

The first level of needs are the basics. Food, water, and shelter are all covered in this level.

Safety and Order

After those basics are covered, the next level of needs people begin to think about is safety and order.


Once safety and order are taken care of, people begin to look for a sense of belonging. This level of needs is all about relationships.


When you feel connected to the group of people you interact with, you start to look to becoming successful.

Self-Actualization/Giving Back

Self-actualization is a big word that means you are in a place to think about giving back to the world around you.

Moving through Maslow’s levels

People may desire to achieve success when they are struggling with belonging, but it isn’t going to happen. Even safety and order will be ignored if you aren’t getting enough to eat. What does this mean for you and me? If you are working hard to gain success and just not getting it, you can move down a level and strengthen your relationships. If you are experiencing relationship issues, look for something in your life that you can put in order.


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