Ok, if you got past the heading your probably a hippie or in some weird meditative state and you don’t know what you’re doing. You reach a state of self-actualisation when you’ve spent all of your money on self-help books and courses and you have no time or resources left. Upon realising this, you give up, shed all ambitions, accept your lot in life and become strangely happy and blissful, released from that exhausting burden.
If you believe that, you’re looking for an easy out. Good luck finding it.
Self-actualisation is the highest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Psychology Today describes self-actualisations as:
“represents growth of an individual toward fulfilment of the highest needs; those for meaning in life, in particular.”
I don’t know that you actually find the meaning of life, only Monty Python has ever made that discovery, I think it just no longer important when your self-actualised. If you want to describe it in more simple terms, and in terms that mean more to the average Joe or Josephine, then it’s about acceptance, acceptance of yourself, of other people around you, whatever they look like, whatever they’re interested in, however they behave and of situations, what’s going on in your life, around you and around the world.
You know when someone tells you to “just get over it”. If you’re a self-actualised individual, you’re probably already over it.
Using the Hierarchy of Needs as a measure, I like to think that we are all in various states of maturity in different areas of our lives, including being self-actualised. In some areas of our lives we are very comfortable in our own skins. Self-actualisation is that point where you’re not threatened by what others think and believe, or perceive. You are free to be yourself, to be authentic. Sometimes that’s in the workplace, sometimes with your family, or with your mates.
It is critical that leaders are working toward self-actualised personal behaviour in the work place. What you see is what you get with a person who has reached this state of self. When your team sees you as something, as a certain shape of a person, and you see yourself as the same shape, then you have authentic leadership. With authenticity comes trust. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a snake, but if you’re venomous, you know it, and the team knows it, and even this can be a good thing. Being a venomous leader isn’t a good thing of course, but knowing you are is a positive start. Then it’s about understanding why this is, and why this is not good and committing to change. The problem is when leaders are not aware (that’s, not self-aware), and don’t even realise their bite can kill.
How do we know if a leader has reached a state of self actualisation? They have an interest in:
- Their own self-development
- They have a keen interest in and value highly the development of others
- They are comfortable in being guided by their own instincts and intuition
- They spend less time feeling guilty and worrying
- They exude energy and enthusiasm
- They are realistic about goals, targets, what’s achievable
- They don’t need to follow the herd
- They are happy in their own company
- They can laugh philosophically at situations and themselves
- They are open and transparent and often spontaneous
Freed from the bounds of needing approval and recognition, feelings of being threatened and needing to compete and win as an individual, self-actualised leaders can deliver employee engagement because they focus on the opportunity, not the problem. They are open to suggestion and comfortable with change. They seek and welcome constructive criticism. They are realistic in business planning. They understand and relate to their employees and are good judges of character. They are considerate of people, their needs and wants. They respect and celebrate qualities in other people and as such they promote and encourage collaboration toward end goals.
Think about the areas of your life where you feel completely comfortable, where you don’t need to compete, where you are comfortable in your own skin. Get a sense of this feeling. When you feel like this in the workplace, and as a leader, you’re ready to do your best work.
Please post your thoughts below. (you’ll be comfortable commenting if your self actualised)
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— Peter McKelvie (@PeterMcKelvie) June 1, 2014