Monday, June 10, 2013

Three questions to become a self-actualized professional

Maslow's hierarchy of needs has had a strong effect on our culture, allowing us to understand our motivations and actions. According to his theory, unless we are able to reconcile our lower-level needs, we are not able to progress toward our higher-level ones.

While Maslow's hierarchy is not without its flaws and critics, it serves as a gateway to understanding how to live a happier and more productive life...including a professional life. Are you interested in learning how to become a self-actualized professional? Consider these questions and use them as guides as you strive to attain the level of engagement in your work to which you aspire.

Do I operate independently of the good opinion of other people? When you operate independently of the good opinion of other people, you separate yourself and your work from the praise and accolades   that others at a lower-level need to stay motivated. While it might be nice to be praised, the work that you do - the mission that you are on - is more important than flattery or recognition. It doesn't matter to you if you are being carried on the shoulders of your admirers: what you create is motivation enough to continue. In fact, the good and the poor opinions of other people have little affect on you. You commit yourself to the passion of what you do.

Am I detached from the outcome? If you are nervous about giving a talk in front of others - nervous about making mistakes, nervous about what others will think about you, etc. - you are focusing on the outcome. When you are detached from the outcome, your attention turns toward your purpose: what you have set out to do. To be a self-actualized professional, you separate yourself from any kind of worry about what the outcome might be. If you take care of your purpose, the outcome will take care of itself. And, honestly, you have absolutely no control over the what's the point in worrying about it?

Do I desire to have power over others? While you may believe that you have power over others, you really do not (ask the parents of a small child about how power dynamics work!). To be a self-actualized professional you surrender your need for power as you recognize that true power over others does not exist. Instead, you seek to influence using love and understanding. This doesn't mean that you do not hold others accountable or let them conduct themselves however they choose; you simply no longer become anxious about the choices they make and how those choices affect you. When you can master this, you no longer take things personally and you are able to improve your professional relationships.

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