Self-Actualization is a term that was popularized by Abraham Maslow – a pioneering developmental and positive psychologist of the twenty-first century. It is most widely known as the top of Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs.” This hierarchy is essentially a framework for understanding the various levels of desire that a human being has as they move through life and confronts new conditions.
But what is self-actualization really? It is a rather amorphous notion. I can remember the first time I heard of the concept in my marketing class at University. It was intriguing to think about the fact that we humans ascend up relatively predictable stages of being. While I never actually took a psychology class in school, I recognized the implications of this concept in business (marketing in particular) and knew that I wanted to sustain that peak state (despite still not really knowing what it was!).
Over the years since college, I’ve done a lot of research of my own on personal growth (in both the psychological and spiritual realms) working towards the elusive goal of self-actualization. The definition that is most straightforward in my mind is from Brian Johnson of en*theos who describes it as the need to “become actually what we are potentially.” This works well to highlight the fact that self-actualization is really about tapping into higher expressions of our human potential.
As far as how self-actualization plays out in business, it wasn’t until coming across the work of Chip Conley did it really start to click for me. In his book Peak, he points out that Maslow refers to “peak experiences” as the key characteristic for defining what is self-actualization. As Conley explains, “a peak experience – comparable to being ‘in the zone’ or in the ‘flow’ – is when what ought to be just is. Peak experiences are transcendental moments when everything just seems to fit together perfectly.”
I really like this notion of peak experiences given my understanding of the significance of getting into flow states and how temporal they can be. That is, ultimately, there is only one thing happening moment to moment – “non-duality” in other words. When we can move beyond self consciousness, in an instance, we can enter into a state that is enlightened from the burden of feeling separate from all things.
Maslow himself wrote that, “they [peak experiences] are moments of ecstasy which cannot be bought, cannot be guaranteed cannot even be sought… but one can set up the conditions so that peak experiences are more likely, or one can perversely set up the conditions so that they are less likely.” Again, this makes a lot of sense to me and recontextualizes the goal of self-actualization.
Here at Actualizing Self, we seek to inspire and enable people to set up the “conditions” for the types of peak experiences that Maslow uses to explain what is self-actualization. For example, we promote content and products dedicated to some of the following:
- Pursuing a higher purpose or finding a calling in life
- Engaging with work you are passionate about especially entrepreneurship
- Designing a lifestyle that provides deep satisfaction internally and externally
- Maintaining meaningful relationships with a diverse group of people
- Having a productivity system that enables efficiency and effectiveness
- Managing and automating your finances to thrive in society
- Sustaining fitness that energizes body, mind and spirit
- Consuming nutrition that makes you come alive
- Practicing mindfulness regularly to cherish the moment
- Traveling to new and exciting places around the world
We invite you to stay engaged with our growing community of people dedicated to making their lives an expression of what is self-actualization in the truest of senses. As a quick way to get started, you can download some free resources we have put together by clicking on the image below and registering for instant access:
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