Build Your Needs Blueprint

vitruvian man


Greetings friends!

A few months ago I shared a classroom with a young guy who believed that he needed $20,000,000 to be secure in his retirement. He was 24 years old and absolutely certain about this choice. So certain, in fact, he stood up in front of 500 people and declared it into a red microphone. Do you want to know why he believed that he needed $20M to feel secure? Well, he didn’t know either. He soon admitted that it was a random number that he pulled out of his ass! It merely sounded good in his head.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because this is exactly what most of us do. We determine what we think we need by using the fleshy parts of our upper legs. I like to refer to mine as the Ass-Mind. We wing it and we don’t truly connect with what we really need. I’ve done this many times. Like when I believed that I needed an agent to get published or when I thought that I needed to put on a suit to be a businessman and have authority. At this point, we all know that stuff like this is B.S.—don’t we?!

These are also examples of limitations. And more importantly, they are examples of limitations that are directly connected to our perception of our needs. So, what is a need? And what do we really need? I mean really! Aren’t these examples of wants; examples of desires? Oscar winner Jessica Lange says it best: “When you learn not to want so badly, life becomes you.” I love this quote because when you strip away false or empty desires (which become limitations) life becomes about your real needs; about your emotional needs; about the real you!

So let’s get to it. Like we discussed before, the first step to overcoming limitations is to Build Your Needs Blueprint. My explanation continues…

During my years of soul searching and study I came across a psychology-based explanation of the 6 Universal Human Needs. It was introduced to me by the Robbins-Madanes Center for Strategic Intervention through my certification process. I love this framework because it gives us a clear understanding of ourselves. Specifically, once we identify our human needs we can then quickly see how our choices and behavior have been constructed to meet them. Like an architect that reads a blueprint for a skyscraper—we can see the inner workings and true structure of everything. Again, learn how these needs of the self and needs of the spirit operate in your life and you will see how and why you limit yourself. More importantly you will see how to reorganize them in order to have a completely different day-to-day experience in the world. Make sense? Good!

The 6 Universal Human Needs fit into 2 groups: needs of the self and needs of the spirit. The first 4 needs, needs of the self, are fundamental needs of the personality that everyone must meet in some way. They are essential to human survival. Each of us will absolutely meet these needs even if we have to lie to ourselves to do so. The question is “How?” The last 2 needs, needs of the spirit, are choices. They are not required for survival but they are essential to achieve any sense of human fulfillment. Also, one need is not more important than the other. All 6 are equally important and good, however; how we rank them explains our life choices. Lastly, we can meet our human needs in both positive and negative ways (behavioral) and at different intensity levels (i.e., at  level 1-10 in terms of strength). Now let’s take a closer look at each need.

1. CERTAINTY. We all need to feel certain about our environment. Each of us anticipates and looks for what is familiar; what we know; what we’re comfortable with. This includes feeling certain about our safety, our ability avoid pain, and to have security: shelter, water, food, etc. In today’s world we often link the need for certainty to what pays us—our jobs. You should also know that some people need to make $1M per year to feel certain—where another person might simply need to collect unemployment each week. Neither are, nor have to be, happy about it…but they are certain.

2. VARIETY. We’re not robots! We’re people, for God’s sakes, with many emotions available to us. Like a painter with a vibrant palette smeared with bright colors. Being absolutely certain and predictable is really boring. So in a beautiful way we also require the need for variety, or uncertainty. We need to exercise our full emotional range—suspense, surprise, joy, sadness, calmness—to feel alive. Some people meet the need for variety by reading books, watching movies, or traveling. Others can meet this need by starting new projects and never finishing anything or even by sleeping around with strangers.

3. SIGNIFICANCE. All of us need to feel a sense of importance; to feel a degree of being needed or wanted. Most of the time we do this by comparing ourselves to others—critically in fact. Someone can meet this need by succeeding at something or by tearing something/someone down. That’s the tricky part about significance: feelings of superiority or inferiority count; feelings of accomplishment and destruction count. These extreme opposites can meet the same need and will lead to totally different day-to-day lives for folks.

4. LOVE/CONNECTION.  Everyone craves love! Don’t believe me? Look down at your heart and ask it what it wants; what it really wants. Love is the act of feeling passion or a strong affection for someone or something. And as human beings we need to connect to each other in some way and be touched throughout our entire lives. Not everyone is prepared to give or receive unconditional love, so chasing connection is another way to satisfy this important need. One can have a truly passionate relationship or settle for a “trophy” arrangement…or even perhaps fulfill this need by becoming a Rotarian.

5. GROWTH. Have you heard the saying that “everything in the universe is either growing or dying?” Look out into your yard, walk through a park, or check out a nature show on the Discovery Channel and you’ll see that this saying is true. For people, we  need to become larger and increase in size; to mature. Most of us think this means physical growth but it also includes growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I know what you’re thinking (again): “Yeah, Doug, I hear ya but I know some pretty dumb people that have never, ever gotten any smarter. Plus, I ride the train with some emotional Neanderthals every day…and don’t even talk to me about spirits!” Your skepticism is proof that although growth is a human need, it is also a choice. We must choose to grow in these areas. Moreover, growth is not a requirement to survive but we must or progress in a positive way to feel fulfilled. A contrasting example of growth is displayed by the person who grows into an honest, loving adult (perhaps a servant-leader or humanitarian) and the person who grows into a complete jerk.

6. CONTRIBUTION. This beautiful need is the only one that takes focus off of the Self. Contribution is the need to reach beyond our own needs to provide an offering or a donation. It’s simply about giving to others. An opposing example is the person who volunteers at a homeless shelter once a month and the kid who joins a street gang to protect his neighborhood. Like growth, contribution is also a choice and the positive expression of it is the other route to feeling completely fulfilled. By the way, everything in the universe either contributes to its environment or it is eliminated. This applies to plants, animals, people in relationships, businesses, politicians, governments, countries, etc.—I think you get it. Everything and everyone gets to choose to give or not to give; to choose fulfillment or not; to participate or get eliminated.

In the next post we’ll take this explanation to the next level and “workshop” the Needs Blueprint so you can build it. With that area covered you will see your current choices clearly, call out the limitations that may have not been clear to you, and make some new (powerful) decisions that will impact tomorrow. In the meantime, you can start thinking about what your top 2 needs are—which 2 are most important to you? What are the positive ways that you’ve met those needs? What are the negative ways you’ve met those needs? How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with how your needs are currently ranked (i.e., what your priority is)?

Until next time!

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