Needs and Motivations

Have you ever noticed that different people seem to have different motivations in life? Another way of talking about this is to couch it in terms of people’s needs.

When we consider basic human needs, it is common for people to immediately think of Maslow. But I find the diagram of his pyramid to be lacking, mostly in how it treats the concept of self-actualization. Frankly, I do not believe that everyone strives for that, nor should. So, anyway, a few years back, I created a new one. Below is my version. Also, at the far bottom is Maslow’s diagram, for reference and to compare.


Taken from The Four Faces, page 29. ©2016

The way it works is that it assumes all humans begin at the bottom and move upwards as we live. We generally focus first on the First Level (Survival), in order to make sure those needs are met, and continue to be met. But we also need Level 2 (Connection) even from an early age. We usually do not see Level 3 (Self-Image and Value) until puberty, but shades of it can be seen even earlier.

The Four Faces

The references to the Lion, Ox, Human and Eagle are the four faces. In the oval at the top, you can see that each face has different needs and motivations. And that is precisely why different people have different motivations in life. Self-actualization is merely one of the four options available to humans, not the penultimate destination as implied by Maslow.

As shown, we can even apply a percentage of the population to better understand. That is why only some people seek self-actualization, or impact, etc. This is also why some people feel misunderstood by those around them. For example, if you frequently lean toward the Eagle, and you are always burying yourself in books and information…but you feel surrounded and overwhelmed at times by those who aspire more for security, and who might seem to belittle your aspiration for knowledge…it could be because Ox’s are 45% of the population. That is just one of many scenarios that are created from this diagram, and which it helps to explain.

These four faces are explained in great detail in the book, The Four Faces.


Below is the traditional pyramid that Maslow proposed for reference. The diagram above replaces this.


Taken from The Four Faces, page 27. ©2016

© 2019, Alignment Life

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