What do you think people want more than anything else today? According to Frank Luntz in What Americans Really Want, Really people want more money. Is that true for you?
Do you worry about money? If you had more money, what would you do with it?
- Would you take care of your basic needs like food, shelter and clothing?
- Would you pay for college?
- Would you spend it on comfort items like a new TV, a nicer car, or furniture?
- Would you take a nice vacation?
- Or something else?
Are these Needs, or Wants?
Why am I asking this? What’s the point?
My favorite question to ask people is, “What do you really want?” In other words, if you could do anything for a career or profession what would you do? Of the people I have asked, the vast majority have not been able to give a good answer.
I finally figured out why.
Most people today don’t spend much time thinking about what they want to do with their lives. That’s because their needs haven’t been met. I’m no psychologist, but according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs people don’t work on the “Want To” list until their “Have To” needs are taken care of. It would be a rare person that would think about self-actualization when they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
If you look at the diagram of the expanded version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs below, the theory goes that the Deficiency needs MUST be met first, and from the bottom up. Once the Deficiency needs have been met, then the Growth needs can be addressed. That means that people will not act to take care of things like law and order (Physical and Psychological Safety needs) until they have enough food, water and shelter (Physiological and Biological needs). Likewise, people won’t work on their Esteem needs (like achievement and respect of others) if they aren’t accepted or have trust (Belongingness and Love needs). Some of the societal standards we used to take for granted no longer exist like respecting the rule of law, trusting others to do the right thing, helping someone in danger rather than taking their picture on your phone,or even things as simple as knowing what constitutes a family or the sex of a person.
So what’s the point?
The point is that there is so much unrest and chaos in society because people’s basic needs aren’t being met. It is not reasonable to work on reaching your full potential (self-actualization) when you are struggling to just pay the bills, keep your family fed, and keep your house…OR IS IT?
Psychologists that ascribe to Maslow’s Hierarchy would tell us that basic human needs have to be taken care of first. Only after these needs (the Deficiency needs in yellow) are filled can we begin to grow. If you study the different levels, this theory makes sense. It seems that many, if not most, people today are fighting to keep their heads above water as evidenced by the $12.3 Billion household debt in America. The Deficiency Needs used to be met by families working together, but when 40% of all births in America are to never-married parents it becomes apparent why so many people have issues.
It is like a person that is drowning. That person is desperate for air (bottom level of Maslow’s Hierarchy). If you have ever tried to save a drowning person you know they are so desperate for a breath that they will try to climb on you, putting you at risk of also drowning in the process. Throwing them a life preserver is a much safer method.
How likely do you think it is that someone that’s actually drowning would ask you questions before grabbing onto a life preserver?
They won’t care where it is made or how environmentally friendly your boat is. They need air!
The same holds for you if you get caught in a vicious cycle in the Deficiency needs. Just when you think you are making progress something else happens like:
- Just when you are about to be promoted, your company gets sold or goes out of business
- Just when you think you can send your kids to college the tuition goes up out of reach
- Just when your family gets back together a gang moves into the neighborhood
- Just when you are enrolling in a business certificate program the rent goes up and you can’t afford it
I call this the Survival Mode.
If you have trouble meeting your Deficiency needs and you are in the Survival Mode, who do you turn to for help? It used to be that people turned to their family. It was the father’s job to meet the needs of the family and teach the children to care for themselves and how to “make it”. Generations of families worked to ensure the basic needs were taken care of so that future generations would move up to the areas of growth (the blue levels on the chart). However, most families no longer have a father that provides for the basic needs. The time when previous generations built a foundation for the current and future generations seems to have passed.
So now what? If you aren’t one of those fortunate enough to have a family support your basic Deficiency needs, who do you turn to? What happens when more and more people are frustrated and scared about filling their most basic needs?
Well, we are seeing that in our society now. Single parent families (the new norm) often have a hard time merely finding food and shelter. Statistically, 50% of children will have lived in a single parent home at some time by the age of 18, and if you live with a single mother you have a five to six times better chance of living in poverty. If you are the child of a single parent living in poverty, what are your views of law and order? Who do you trust? What do you really know about love and acceptance? What are the chances you will reach your potential or help others to reach theirs?
People in the Survival Mode will get their needs met any way they can. That means they may break the law or they will accept assistance from any government that offers it. In my opinion, those that do not have their deficiency needs met are caught a trap. Please understand, this does not just mean poor people. The trap is also for those do not know love, or respect, or trust. Those are not necessarily economic issues.
The disgusting part in all this is that there are those that profit from this trap. Any organization that can keep people trapped in the Survival Mode can control them. That’s because the trapped people become reliant on the organization to have its needs met. The organization that wants to control people has no interest in helping them to get out of the trap. It is not in that organization’s interest to have law and order unless they (not local authorities) provide it. It is not in their best interest to have functional families, because families supply love and support, and may eventually help other families out of the deficiency need cycle. Those that profit from this trap make sure that helping people is no longer a family function, and heaven forbid it become a faith based function; no, no it must be the controlling organization’s function.
And why could any of this be possible? It is because power belongs to whomever fulfills needs. So the question becomes, “Who fulfills your needs?” Whomever that is, that’s who has power over you.
When Maslow wrote his theory the majority of people in America took charge of their own destinies. Families were still the center of American life and most Deficiency needs were met by the family. Whether the growth needs were met often depended on the individual’s desires. I don’t think that can be said today.
Just suppose what you have read so far is an accurate description of today’s society. Am I saying that if you find yourself trapped in the Survival Mode your only way out is to rely on the Government? Absolutely not! That is what the Government and, to a large degree, the press would have you believe. There are alternatives.
First, your family should be the place you turn to for support. If you are fortunate enough to have a father that takes his responsibility to fill the needs of his family seriously, that is a much better option. A family is supposed to fill all the deficiency needs while you are growing up, give you support in young adulthood and teach you to provide for yourself. If you are in a single parent situation, filling all the Deficiency Needs becomes much more difficult without relying on the Government somehow.
Second, you could be one of those high achieving, self-motivated people that has the drive to escape the trap without anyone’s assistance. The whole world admires people like you and cheers you on. Unfortunately you belong to a very small statistic; only about 3%. But it is possible.
The best option is to ignore the whole hierarchy of needs thing and to look at the problem from a different angle. Steve Jobs looked at the market differently than most business owners, and with great success. He realized that what most people wanted was based on what was available. Jobs looked at the possibilities and showed people things they never imagined. He did not rely on focus groups of consumers telling him what they wanted, rather he showed them a better way, one they didn’t know about.
I think a large portion of society has been brainwashed into thinking what they want has to come from the Government or Government subsidized institutions (health care, education, a national police force, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, etc.). But as I said earlier, most people don’t really know what they want. What if what you think you want is based on a lie? What if what you think you want is only a version of what you have been allowed to see?
I am not condemning anyone, but most people tend to think the way those around them think. If you think the only way to get ahead is to have a good job it is probably because those around you think having a good job will get them the money they need to be “successful.” If the people around you think that getting a good job depends on a college education, and they, like you, can’t afford it, then getting a college loan becomes your ticket. Does that mean that going into debt in order to go to college is the only way? Of course not. Some would say that getting out of your college debt by the Government paying for it is the way. Ohers would say you should get a scholarship. Still others would argue that you don’t need a college education to be successful.
The way to “get ahead” or to ascend to the Growth areas of Maslow’s Hierarchy seems to be to either just to work harder or rely on the Government. It seems that the issues are too big for us as individuals and if we want to get beyond the anxiety of figuring what we will eat or drink, how we will pay the rent or mortgage, and who will provide security, we’ll need someone to help take care of us.
In many respects, I agree. But who will that someone be? That someone used to be the family. It consisted of a father and a mother that were married. Their moral compass was determined by a sense of right and wrong that came from God. The family provided for love, security, a sense of identity, and for food and shelter. Today, none of that can be taken for granted and the very definition of a family seems to be whatever you want it to be.
The point is that whomever you choose to help you fulfill your Deficiency Needs will determine your motivation and the methods for fulfilling your higher needs. That person or entity will shape your world view.
In the version of the Bible that I read there is a section that is titled “The Cure for Anxiety”. I find it interesting it doesn’t say “A cure” it says “The cure”. It says that we aren’t supposed to worry about what we are to eat or drink, or what we will wear for clothing. It says there is a better way. It even says that more money isn’t the answer. (Sorry Frank Luntz)
For some of you this is going to sound absurd, so hang in there. What this passage from Matthew’s gospel says is the answer is not to seek what everybody else is seeking, but to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (your needs) will be added to you.”
What does that mean? I’m glad you asked.
First, God’s kingdom is His government. That is to say it is His way of doing things. His way is often in direct opposition to the way you have been doing things based on what everybody else does. His government is a kingdom, not a democracy. He doesn’t care about your opinion because He knows His way works and your way doesn’t. Second, His righteousness means that what you are supposed to seek is not based on whether you think you deserve it or whether you are good enough. It doesn’t say “Your righteousness” (righteous means right standing with God, without any condemnation) it says “Hisrighteousness”. His love for you (the third level in Maslow’s Hierarchy) is so complete that that He has given you righteous standing as a gift. You can’t earn it because He has already given it to you if you believe Him. In other words, if you do things His way not only will you get the desires of your heart, but your needs will be met as well.
That is quite a promise. My question was, “Ok, how does that work? By magic?” No. Just as Steve Jobs said, people don’t know what they want until they are shown. Here is what I want to show you…
What if you realized you do “something” better than anyone else. What if you used that “something” to meet your needs?
Just as God has a Kingdom (translate that as a government) that He wants you to be a part of and He has freely given you His righteousness (so you don’t have to be worthy) as a gift, He has also given you a GIFT. That “something” you do better than anyone else is what I call your GIFT, and everyone has a GIFT. Saint Peter said, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God”. What that means is that;
- Each person has a special GIFT – yours is special and perfect for you
- You are supposed to employ it
- You are supposed to treat your GIFT as a steward, taking care of it and developing it
- It is a grace, meaning you did nothing to deserve this GIFT
- It is manifold, so there is enough grace to go around for everyone
- And the giver of this GIFT is God
The challenge is that most people are stuck in the survival mode and don’t even know they have a GIFT. Even good families often don’t know about this GIFT thing, and while they have a better chance than most of getting out of the survival mode, life can still be a burden.
I started this discussion with what most people want. Again, according to Frank Luntz, what most people want is more money. Today, the more money you have the better your chances of escaping the survival mode and moving up Maslow’s Hierarchy to the Growth levels. So how can you acquire more money? If that is what you want, and it will fill most (although not all) of your needs, what is the best way to make more money? I would tell you that the best way to make more money is to ignore what you have been told in the past, because it probably isn’t working too well.
- The answer to curing your anxiety about the needs you face in life is to find your GIFT.
- The answer to making the money you want is employing your GIFT.
- And the answer for the joy you really want in life will be found in giving your GIFT to others.
As Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt say in their book The Power of Focus, “Your bottom-line income is directly linked to the amount of time spent in your area of brilliance”. Your area of brilliance is your GIFT.
God already know you have needs. He wants you to use His way to fill them. This is TheCure for Anxiety.
If this makes sense and you thin itcan help you, please don’t keep it a secret.
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