Self-Actualization: a Forgotten Need

May 18, 2018
5 min
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By aligning company mission and personal development, ProHabits offers the growth practices that make self-actualization possible. ProHabits enables users to take action on their values, delivering daily opportunities that provide a platform for meaningful value-based activities.

Self-Actualization: a Forgotten Need

Ask anyone who’s taken an introductory course in psychology if they’ve heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and the answer will be a resounding ‘yes’. In fact, they might tell you a little bit about it – about how it’s organized into a pyramid, and that basic safety needs comprise the foundation. What people remember about the pyramid often reveals what sort of habits in the workplace they practice. Perhaps even they’ll recall esteem needs and those for close relationships. But try this next little experiment: ask them what’s on the top of the pyramid. The likelihood is that they’ll be at a loss.

They forget about self-actualization. And subsequently, they probably forget to make it a habit at work.

What is Self-Actualization?

Self-actualization, as defined by Abraham Maslow, is “the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”

Most, it seems, have lost sight of Maslow’s final purpose – to demonstrate how self-actualization is necessary for leading a fulfilling life. Rather, it has been taken as a lofty and abstract goal to be forgotten.

Of course, it isn’t lofty and abstract, but a fundamental human need that each of us inherently possesses and attempts to satisfy. It is the need that defines how other needs are met and provides the framework that we use to plan our lives. Failing to do so can even put other needs at risk – so evidently there is a clear incentive to make self-actualization a priority.

Found throughout Maslow’s work is the understanding that one cannot stand to be anything other than what they can possibly be – that meaning and fulfillment can be as important as the necessities of basic survival.

Values and Self-actualization

Values are the guide that lead us toward self-actualization – a self-actualized person is a person who strives to live their values.  

Research into Social Identity Theory has continually shown that people don’t want to change their values – they want to live them (Tajfel, & Turner). Attempting to live values that you don’t really believe in will feel disingenuous and can even be harmful.

ProHabits enables users to take action on their values, delivering daily opportunities that provide a platform for meaningful value-based activities. By aligning company mission and personal development, ProHabits offers the growth practices that make self-actualization possible.

Bringing Values to Life

For the self-actualized person, Maslow writes: “Work actually becomes part of the self, part of the individual’s definition of himself”. For such a person, work is an integral element of their life and provides a crucial element in how they think of their self. Of course, Maslow notes that such a state is not possible in every environment, but must be structured in such a way as to allow workers to identify with their work and utilize their whole person.

Fortunately, we see that today there is a significant trend in bringing more enlightened management techniques to life – not everyone has forgotten the importance of finding meaning in what you do.

Leading the way with values driven management is Financial Statement Services Inc (FSSI):

“Founded in 1980 [FSSI] has grown to become one of the largest independent woman-owned providers of statement services in the western United States. FSSI delivers highly customized variable-data printed and electronic document production and distribution solutions that help our clients save money and communicate more effectively with their customers.”

Reflective of their leadership approach, FSSI structures their organization to display the best practices that encourage excellence. FSSI actively encourages values driven behavior by recognizing team members who demonstrate a core value. One way they do this is by awarding the team member with a shirt that represents the value.

Recognition has been consistently shown as vital to employees’ satisfaction in the workplace. While at a distance such gestures may seem minimally important, they are actually quite important for employees’ continued excellent performance. FSSI’s conscious practices demonstrate a keen understanding of this principle.

Maslow was clear with his observations, that workers who aren’t treated as full individuals with a multitude of skills and abilities won’t find significance in their work. To bring out the full and best self in work, it is vital that a number of values be engaged. FSSI, by recognizing a range of values, shows their team that they are respected on a number of levels. The team is shown that demonstrating excellence in new areas will be recognized and honored.


  • Eupsychian Management
  • Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). “An integrative theory of intergroup conflict”. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel. The social psychology of intergroup relations. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole. pp. 33–47.
John Paul

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