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Dick Richards

Dave -- Maslow's hierarchy has been interpreted, re-interpreted, and mis-interpreted many many times. I have always understood it as a hierarchy of NEEDS, meaning simply that the lower level needs must be met before higher level needs can be addressed. So when you say that you have "bits and pieces" I take that to mean that you have experienced many levels, as might be said for most people (including me) who have had a successful career and engaged in some form of self-exploration. In other words--you are aware of your needs at many levels, unlike someone who, for example, has only ever experienced deprivation and has little or no awareness of higher level needs.

I think that at the higher levels the fulfillment of needs becomes more and more internal: as you say, "starting with me." It also becomes a matter of connecting what you discover within yourself to something external and higher than the self: a god, a cause, an idea, etc. The lower level needs require something external -- food and shelter, for example.

The higher level needs begin more and more to require the development of qualities such as serenity, wisdom, faith, and deep self-knowledge; internal qualities. This is a struggle in the culture that we have created because it induces us to believe that we can find fulfillment of the higher levels at the mall or in making and selling the things that get sold in the mall.


Right on Dick.

Lets say one progressed through the levels during one period of their life. Then they lost their job. They have to go down in the pyramid to take care of certain needs. However, because they have experienced needs such as esteem, they don't always lose these when unemployed. This is what I meant by bits and pieces.

Dick Richards

The question then is one of the source of our self-esteem. Returning to your post, it seems that your challenge has to do not only with self-knowledge but also with where (internal/external) that source resides.

I once was involved in a training exercise in which my co-facilitators and I asked people to stand in the middle of a circle of co-workers to receive applause, not for anything they did, said, or had, but for who they are. Wow, did people ever have trouble getting in the middle of that circle! Their sense of esteem was all wrapped up in doing, saying, and having. And many felt "egotistical" for receiving applause for who they are.

Carlos Leyva


For many of us the esteem that we feel has much to do with our work. Not just from the money and status but from connectedness. Having experienced the highs and the lows of the technology industry (now studying law at Stetson in St. Petersburg FL), that is up and down the levels as you describe, I found no satisfaction anywhere on the hierarchy, but have found some through faith and through a realization that all good things happen through grace. For me, now, work has everything to do with a Jewish Carpenter and a need to serve in whatever way my humble talents might allow.


Being of service is a beautiful thing Carlos. Unleashing your own right brain talents into a left brain world will be an interesting adventure my friend. Keep me posted.


Concerning the "up and down type of pyramid movement"....

It had been already said here in comments that the pyramid itself is not an ultimate reference - one can [re]interpret it as much as one feels appropriate.

If we do refer to the pyramid as a kind of a starting point, then your "up and down movement" might be just the manifestation of the "spiral moving time".

They say that events never occur completely a-new: everything is a kind of a replay of something which happened before, albeit in a (slightly) different way.

Thus, you might want to think of the "ups and downs" as of the spiral-fitted evolution . Even if you do come to the same level of the pyramid more than once, you never do this with the same experience, as with time your experience only grows.

It might be appropriate to mention that the highest level of the pyramid does not imply stability (in the sense of seeing the lower levels as improper/unfit for oneself). After reaching the top, one may reconsider the values, find what is best, and live as is desired - not necessarily at the top of the pyramid, which is relative. (Well, except the firstmost level.)

I know it's been long since you posted, but I just felt the need to comment :) Hope that currently you are at the level you want to be at.


Thanks so much for commenting here Bogdan! And your offers a perspective that I had not thought about.

Since this post I have moved on to another position, still in the same industry. Stepping up one layer in management has made a world of difference for me. I now feel free to move about the pyramid :-)

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