Tag Archives: self-actualization

Maslow and Timespan

Abraham Maslow’s pyramid was a hierarchy. He called it the hierarchy of needs (not wants, not desires, not recommendations). Humans have different levels of needs. The dynamics in the hierarchy dictate that when we are threatened at a level below, we must immediately retreat to that level and cannot emerge until that level is satisfied. Pyramids start at the bottom.
V – Self Actualization
IV – Importance
III – Belonging
II – Security
I – Survival
Most people focus on the content of each level, but each is more complex based on timespan.

Survival needs are immediate. Air, water, food, protection from the elements, cold, heat, exposure.

Security needs are identical to survival, but the timespan is longer. We need air, but we need sustained clean air. We need food for today and we need food for tomorrow (enter the refrigerator). We need a blanket today, but we need a condominium for tomorrow. Important to note, if our immediate survival is threatened, we don’t think much about the condo.

Belonging to a group is a basic biologic need. Animals belong to herds or packs as a matter of longer term survival. Wise animals stay to the center of the herd as the periphery gets picked off by predators. Humans belong to conceptual herds. Membership involves rituals to remain in good standing with the conceptual herd. The timespan associated with group belonging is longer than either survival or security.

Importance raises the level of complexity. Passing a membership ritual may allow a person to remain with the conceptual herd, but to cement that relationship requires meaningful contribution. It is a human need to make important contribution to a group that individual holds as meaningful.

Self-actualization is the most complex human need, some never reach this level. The timespan associated with self-actualization is well into the aspirational future. Indeed, some legacies contemplate behavioral impacts beyond death. While the other levels in Maslow’s hierarchy are self-centered, or selfish, this level is selfless, concern for contribution to community, as defined by the individual. Elon Musk wants to go to Mars.