Did you know that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs doesn’t actually end with self-actualization?
“It is quite true that [we live] by bread alone—when there is no bread. But what happens to [our] desires when there is plenty of bread and when [our bellies are] chronically filled?”Abraham Maslow
Most of you
Thus the prevailing theory in
Maslow amended his model near the end of his life.
Maslow’s later thinking argued that there is a higher level of development, what he called “self-transcendence”. This comes after self-actualization, where our focus shifts from beyond ourselves to altruism, liberation from egocentricity, and the ultimate unity of a being.
“Transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos.”(The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, New York, 1971, p. 269.)
It is the act of transcending past one’s own ego and living a life of giving to others.
“At the level of self-actualization, the individual works to actualize the individual’s own potential [whereas] at the level of transcendence, the individual’s own needs are put aside, to a great extent, in favor of service to others”“Rediscovering the Later Version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Transcendence and Opportunities for Theory, Research, and Unification.” Koltko-Rivera
Many of you would describe your life purpose as a form of helping the world, helping others, building community, making an impact or creating a change. This falls directly in line with moving past self-actualization.
Many people who volunteer or help others for the first time in a long time, reflect on this feeling of joy and happiness they got from helping others. This is the feeling that Maslow is referring too with transcend.
The best leaders amongst us have reached a deep level of emotional awareness (self-actualization) and have begun practising the daily acts of leadership, through coaching, mentoring, giving and guiding and thus entering self-transcendence.
…the real aim of human existence cannot be found in what is called self-actualization. Human existence is essentially self-transcendence rather than self-actualization. Self-actualization is not a possible aim at all; for the simple reason that the more a [person] would strive for it, the more [they] would miss it. For only to the extent to which [people] commit [themselves] to the fulfillment of [their] life’s meaning, to this extent [they] also actualize [themselves.] In other words, self-actualization cannot be attained if it is made an end in itself, but only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl