“You are full of un-shapen dreams. You are laden with beginnings.” Lola Ridge.
What really motivates you? What is it that gets you up and out of bed in the morning? What are your un-shapen dreams and ambitions? The power to maximise our potential lies within us. Think about a little acorn. That tiny acorn has immense power within it. It has the potential to become a mighty oak. Yet you can’t see it. Dissect any acorn and you will find nothing inside that remotely resembles an oak tree. But you know it is in there when you put it into fertile ground and nurture it, over time. It is the same for each of us. The potential within us is far beyond what we can imagine. We have greatness within. Our sacred quest is to discover our potential and strive to achieve it.
Our potential as human beings is closely associated with satisfying our human needs. Abraham Maslow was a 20th century psychologist who studied human needs and human potential. He believed that people are primarily motivated and driven by a number of essential needs. The most basic needs are those of survival. They represent the base of Maslow’s famous pyramid – the “Hierarchy of Human Needs.” To survive we need air to breathe; water to drink; food to eat and somewhere to sleep. We also need to feel safe and protected from harm. We need shelter from the storms of life. We need to look after our physical health, mental well-being and our financial security.
Further up the pyramid are equally important, though less tangible, emotional and intellectual needs. Everyone needs to love and to be loved and we need friends, family and intimacy. Esteem involves the feeling of accomplishment. Everyone needs to feel that they are significant and valued in some way. We need and seek the recognition, respect and the esteem of others. And most importantly we need to nurture our own self-respect and self-esteem.
At the top of the pyramid is the desire to achieve our full potential – “self- actualisation”. Self-actualisation is our primal need for personal growth. It has been encoded into our nervous systems over centuries. Irrespective of our background, everyone has a deep yearning within to grow and better ourselves. Our lives matter and we can make a difference in the world. While each of us is unique, we are all wired in very much the same way. We all have the same fundamental needs that drive us forward, in some way, to be what we can be and realise our potential .
The journey to living our best possible life is unique and varies greatly. But the “survival” needs at the bottom of the pyramid must be satisfied first. If we are starving or in grave danger, nothing else matters. But once our more basic needs are taken care of, then the “higher” level needs begin to manifest. There is an emptiness in human hearts that can lead to anxiety, regret and disillusionment, when ignored. But a better understanding of our fundamental needs and their priorities, helps us to shape our destiny and experience a life of more meaning and purpose.
Recognising our unique skills are important for self-esteem and enables us to add value in all areas of our personal and working lives. We all have skills that we take for granted or don’t highlight because we think it is being big headed or arrogant. But giving ourselves genuine praise and recognition for the things we do well is important to our self-esteem.
Realising our potential involves recognising and developing the skills we already have as well as new skills. What are the skills or abilities you are proudest off? What new skills could you acquire as part of your personal development? A good exercise is to regularly complete a “Skills Inventory”. It will not only highlight your existing skills, but will identify skills that can take you to the next level and uncover hidden potential.
All of us have unique gifts and abilities and we have a responsibility to develop our skills, achieve our potential and life our best life. The more we begin to know and trust the power within, the more we connect with what we can be. A life truly worth living is within us and we can connect with it. In doing so, we grow personally as well as contributing to and enriching the lives of others.
BEYOND PERCEPTION’S REACH is a collection of brief thoughts and reflections on the complexities and challenges of life’s mysteries. The weekly blog will explore some of the questions and personal challenges we face in our uncertain and confusing world. How do we bring a bit more joy, purpose and fulfilment to our “one wild and precious lives”?