The Grey Chronicles


Maslow to Robbins

Grey DayIn Organization Theory, a subject in Business Management, the theory of Abraham Maslow’s (1954) Hierarchy of Needs—physiological (being free from hunger, thirst, pain, etc.), safety (feeling secure), social (being loved), esteem (being respected), and self-fulfillment (experiencing meaning and beauty in life)—was often cited as the reason why people do the things they do. Other authors, notably McGregor’s The Human Side of Enterprise (1960), also offered similar viewpoints, and applied it to management.

Most management students know that in Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of needs, at the bottom are basic in that they are present at birth, common to all people, and initially, at least, stronger than those above them. Those at the top are presumed to appear only with maturity and only in those who aren’t locked in a constant struggle for survival.

Anthony Robbins (1992) offers his own version of the Six Human Needs:


Robbins’ first of the four basic needs is the need for connection or love, which is equivalent to Maslow’s social need of being loved. Bonding, sharing, feeling a part of, being at one with or being intimate with others are some of the ways to meet this need. Everyone needs to be able to connect with other humans and feel a sense of love. It is important to not only receive love but to also be able to give love.


Robbins’ second basic need is certainty or comfort, which is somewhat a mixture of Maslow’s physiological and safety needs. This is the ability to produce, eliminate, or avoid stress, or create, increase or intensify pleasure. People want to feel secure in their jobs and relationships. Most people can not wait to get a job because on a cultural level it represents security, which is another word for certainty. For some people, they only live to work, and work to live. However, this could be an illusion. In the past, it was possible to believe that a job will give most people certainty and it did give some sense of certainty because most people worked for one company all their lives. The expression, “I’m a company man” was in vogue then. Today, with globalization from trade to economics to finance, however, this is no longer true, this creates a lot of fear and uncertainty for people.


Robbins, moreover, added the antonym of certainty as the third human basic need. Now at the same time, if you get too much certainty in your life you become bored and your life becomes monotonous. Many people have this challenge so they crave variety or uncertainty in their life. It can also be described as surprise, difference, diversity, challenge or excitement. This might explain why sometimes people just get crazy and go bungee-jumping; or visit a place they have never been to just for the sake of adventure. Variety is really the spice of life. So, when the certainty and comfort becomes boring, we often feel we need to change some things in our life. This must be the need fulfilled by venture capitalists?


The Robbins’ fourth basic need is the need for significance, a sense of being needed or having a purpose, uniqueness or the need to feel important. Maslow’s equivalent of this is the need for esteem (being respected) inclusive of self-fulfillment (experiencing meaning). We all have the need for it and we all meet that need in some way. As Cory once said, “One must be frank to be relevant.” To be relevant then is to be significant.

Robbins also identified two primary and essential needs: growth and contribution. This is related to Maslow’s human need for self-fulfillment (experiencing meaning and beauty in life).


The first one is growth, which is one of the most powerful needs. Simply said, if you are not growing you are dying. Unused muscles and neurons, atrophy; unused knowledge and skills, forgotten. If you help others to be fulfilled, you will be fulfilled. Friedman (2005) observes:

“When you have a pathway to be The Man or The Woman, you tend to focus on the path and on achieving your dreams. When you have no pathway, you tend to focus on your wrath and on nursing your memories.”

Yet, it is also true that with reflection—the analytical examination of our memories, we can choose the right pathway to fulfilling our dreams, otherwise we could only be repeating the same mistakes we made, never really learning the lessons we ought to have learned. Problems, adversities and challenges make us grow strong, but it is the decisions we make that are the bedrock of our own individuality. It makes us, who we are!


Robbins’ second primary need is the need for contribution. Often, we will do more for other people than what we will do for ourselves. To meet this need on a higher level we need to be willing to consistently give to others that which you wish to receive. A possible rewording of The Golden Rule: do unto others what you like others do unto you? Thus, to have a rewarding life, we need to go from being “culturally successful”, to being fulfilled. To help others when and while we can is even more rewarding than helping ourselves to fulfill own desires, wishes and dreams while trampling the humanity of others.

The often-quoted “God helps him who helps himself.” is found nowhere in the Bible. This popular self-help aphorism seems to have its origin in the writings of the sixth-century Greek sage Aesop, who wrote, “ . . . never more pray to me for help, until you have done your best to help yourself, or depend upon it you will henceforth pray in vain.” (Boller & George, 1989).

With the popularity of Web 2.0’s social networking, our contributions might be in the form of simply a few lines in Twitter, a personal photo in Flicker, a human-interest video in YouTube or a controversial blog in WordPress or Blogger, among several others.

the question then: Are you growing and contributing?


Boller, Paul F., Jr. & George, John (1989). They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. p. 7, quoting Aesop’s Fables. Chicago. 1960. p. 20. back to text.

Friedman, Thomas L. (2005). The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. USA: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 2005. pp. 460. back to text

Maslow, Abraham (1954). Personality and Motivation. New York: Harper & Row, 1954. 293pp. back to text.

McGregor, Douglas (1960). The Human Side of Enterprise. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960. 256pp. back to text.

Robbins, Anthony (1992). Awaken The Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny. London: Simon & Schuster, 1992. 544pp. back to text.

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 LicenseDisclaimer: The posts herein do not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions. Read the full version of self-imposed rules for this blog: A New Year; New Rules. Unless otherwise expressly stated, the posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Comments are moderated to keep the discussion relevant and civil. Readers are responsible for their own statements.



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    Comment by — 2013.February.1 @ 02:40 | Reply

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