Paul Millerd offers a new view on Maslow’s Pyramid and offers a different and more interesting lens on life.
‘The biggest losers, we suggest, have been management students’
This was the takeaway of three researchers who dug into the history of the invention of Maslow’s pyramid. We’ll get to that story but first let’s take a look at what has become one of the most sacred ideas in the management world, Maslow’s pyramid:
The conventional way of thinking about the pyramid is a series of steps that you progress through with the goal of eventually spending more time focusing on self-actualizing. It is often used when thinking about what motivates people at work and thinking about how to improve a culture to drive more productive employees.
The problem? The pyramid is an interpretation of Maslow’s research from the 1940’s which he spent the next thirty years second guessing and adding more nuance. By the end of his life, his investigations were well beyond any sort of neat and tidy pyramid that I had trouble trying to even describe and understand what Maslow thought about human motivation at all.
Let’s dive in.
A hierarchy, but not a pyramid
Maslow’s early research, presented in A Theory of Human Motivation (1943) presents something that feels familiar to someone who has seen the pyramid:
The ‘physiological’ needs: The bodily drives for homeostasis included warmth, coolness and hunger
Safety Needs: Protection from danger and harm such as crime, violence, wars, etc… Some experience this as a lack of money as well.
Love Needs: People have the desire to belong and be part of something
Esteem Needs: The desire to be respected by others and by yourself
Self-Actualization Needs: People that have satisfied their other needs and can spend time on fulfilling their “potential”
In writing about self-actualization, this is where he says that being self-actualization is about meeting the other basic needs first but then goes on to share that he doesn’t really know much about how this is done:
The clear emergence of these needs rests upon prior satisfaction of the physiological, safety, love and esteem needs. We shall call people who are satisfied in these needs, basically satisfied people, and it is from these that we may expect the fullest (and healthiest) creativeness. Since, in our society, basically satisfied people are the exception, we do not know much about self-actualization, either experimentally or clinically. It remains a challenging problem for research.
This is the question that would shape his future research.
Key points include:
- D-Psychology & B-Psychology
- Where the pyramid came from
- Later Research: D-Needs and The B-Realm
Read the full article, Maslow’s Imaginary Pyramid: Who really invented the pyramid?, on Boundless.com.
Paul Millerd shares an evergreen post on the challenges and benefits of following a self-employed path.
Over the past two and half years I’ve been navigating unknown territory, grappling with the deep philosophical questions of how to live life and wondering how my parents’ generation, the boomers, lived life as if they had a map.
For most of my life, I pretended I had a map. It seemed that was what you were supposed to do as an adult. In job interviews I lied about my career path and intentions to stay at that company. In my grad school interview I outlined a very specific plan that also happened to align with the goals of the program. The scary things is that I had almost started to believe my map was right.
Before I left my full-time job in 2017, I had the sense that things were going to be okay. That there was a plan. That life made sense.
Self-Employment Opened My Eyes & Made Me Curious
The truth was I had no idea and it took taking the leap to self-employment to open my eyes. Here is what I wrote a year into it:
A career is an artificial path which you must always manage, have a story for and be networking so that you can take the next step. The next step being up, of course.
Being self-employed, there are no promotions or paths to judge yourself against. Other people’s confusion with this fact comes out when people invariably ask “what’s your plan?” or “how’s business doing?”
While this question has no answer, I respond with what I know to be true: “I am following my creative energy and seeing where it takes me.” This tends to drive a lot of people who are deep into career thinking a bit mad.
As I’ve spoken to hundreds of people that have been carving their own paths and researched how people navigate life and stay sane along the way, a new kind of map has emerged. Not one that gives a perfect sense of certainty or comfort, but one that helps give language to feelings that are hard to name.
Key points include:
- Taking the leap
- A map for navigating the pathless path
- Embracing a “new train of thought”
Read the full article, Life Without A Map: Navigating The Pathless Path of Self-Employment, on Boundless.com.
In this post from his popular Boundless newsletter, Paul Millerd asks, “Do we design life around learning? Or do we hardly fit it in? Do we really need to learn that much to live a decent life?” He shares thoughts and experiences on learning Chinese, and the U.S. Healthcare crisis.
#1 On Learning Chinese
I’ve been busy the past two weeks going to Chinese class for three hours and then studying another two or three hours every day at home. I was a bit stressed before the class started but have been surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed the classes.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve been transported back to campus and now remember how much I loved being in school. I still claim to love learning but if I am honest I don’t do much of it. I imagine I’m like most people. I learn a lot of new things by solving problems. This is one reason I like self-employment. It forces you to learn many different things. But these are all small things. Like learning SEO. Or learning basic CSS and HTML. You can get to a good understanding of those topics in less than a week.
I haven’t spent much time in the deep, focused state that brings me back to studying engineering in school. The state in which you are slightly beyond your current capabilities and that if you trust the system you will eventually arrive at the answer. I loved that.
I’ve gotten better at writing but I also have a suspicion that I might have improved faster if I gave it more focused attention. The kind of environments that can enable deep learning are magical and we probably don’t give them enough credit in the non-stop criticism of higher education. Higher education has lots of problems but in most schools there are those magical programs and professors that can help enable this kind of learning.
Key points include:
- The learning design
- The healthcare system
Read the full post, Lessons from Learning Chinese, on boundless.com.
Susan Meier asks us simply to think about love and how it works when we want to bring positive and productive energy into play.
“Think about love.
In the early days of running my own company, I was feeling nervous about a pitch meeting with a potential new client. My friend suggested matter-of-factly, “Just think about love.” I laughed at first, because love seemed like an odd thing to be thinking about while discussing digital media strategies in the pharmaceutical industry. But I decided to give it a try. I took a deep breath as I sat down to the meeting and called the word ‘love’ to mind. I felt my chest broaden and my shoulders release. It wasn’t romantic love, but rather the sensation of pure joy that comes when you hug your puppy, the feeling that anything is possible when the sun shines on your shoulders. I nailed the presentation and won the work.
It worked because love is what you bring to your very best work – the passion you feel for something you truly care about, the sense of integrity that comes with fulfilling your purpose, the patience and tenacity that get conjured up when you are determined to make good on a commitment.
Don’t think about robots.
While we may worry about machine learning and artificial intelligence taking jobs and dehumanizing work, we need not. It’s true that machines and algorithms have quick computing power and no pesky egos to contend with. However, the unique gifts of the human heart – empathy, vulnerability, emotional literacy – can’t be replicated.”
Key points include:
- Working without fear
- Aligning with passion
- Intrinsic motivation
Read the full article, How Love Works, on SusanMeierStudio.com.