Abraham Maslow is well-known for identifying the shared basic human needs a hierarchy of needs – with self-actualization as the pinnacle.  The hierarchy shows basic bodily and psychological needs as foundational before one seeks full personal potential.  This peak is defined as self-actualization an inherent desire to become everything one is capable of becoming.  How can this apply to career growth?

This pinnacle peak fits those who are growth motivated.  While basic and psychological needs don’t have to be 100% supplied, it does relieve pressure and allow for more time to be directed to achieving potential.  But do all seek this self-actualization?  Unfortunately, no.  But those that do appear to have specific characteristics that assist in their career growth and personal success.

What are the characteristics of self-actualizing individuals?  Scott Jeffrey summarized these characteristics from Maslow’s paper entitled “Self-Actualizing People: A Study of Psychological Health” from Motivation and Personality (1954):

Characteristics of Self-Actualizing Individuals

  • Superior perception of reality
  • Increased acceptance of self, of others, and nature
  • Increased spontaneity
  • Increase in problem-centering
  • Increased detachment and desire for privacy
  • Increased autonomy and resistance to enculturation
  • Greater freshness of appreciation and richness of emotional reaction
  • Higher frequency of peak experiences
  • Increased identification with the human species
  • Improved interpersonal relations
  • More democratic character structure
  • Increased creativeness
  • Certain changes in the value system

Where Are You in Career Growth?

Reviewing the above list of characteristics, where do you fit?  If you were to look at your career path to-date, can you identify its progress or stagnation in your development?

  • What is your true passion?  What do you truly want to do?
  • Are you stuck in a rut or are you more spontaneous now than you were five to ten years ago?
  • Are you in control of your career trajectory or have you simply fallen into a ‘path’?
  • Are you motivated by an internal drive for growth?
  • Do you know how to market yourself?  How are your transferrable skills going to get you where you want to be?

Children have curious bones they are always asking why.  Depending on how they are raised, this curiosity can be encouraged or discouraged.  When discouraged, they grow to be adults walking along a path and doing the status quo until they get that inner feeling that there must be something more!  The previous generations of “hire to retire” with a single company demonstrates this.  This is why when you see successful people leaving jobs (or relationships) to explore something new something that seems so out of character for them.

Looking to change?  Not sure where to start?  Watch for Part 2, discussing 4 steps you can take to accelerate your self-actualization.

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