Everyone Has These 6 Needs

May 3, 2016 | Life Coaching Blogs

I love to use assessments for my own personal development and that of my clients. Especially when you’re busy (helping others, building a creative business that pursues profit and purpose, etc.) it’s easy to get lost in the organizational needs or the needs of those around you who seem to be in a much more dire straits. For those who tend to help too much (definitely me on a less than ideal day), we can become stressed and cranky. Even  when you’re in love with your work, being productive, and feeling joy, it’s great to know why so you can stay in that feeling of flow longer.

There are so many ways to learn more about yourself and your typical way of responding/reacting to situations, your communication and leadership styles, and the strength of your relationships.

  • Myers-Briggs
  • Enneagram
  • DISC
  • Predictive Index®
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Leadership Practice Inventory
  • Stress Quotient®
  • StrengthsFinder
  • Metaprograms

Girl in mirrorAll of these can be useful at one point or another. The more aware we are of our tendencies, the more we can let go of the ones that don’t support us, and become more flexible and adaptable throughout life. We all have autopilot responses to any situation: happiness/the glass is half full, sadness/the glass is half empty, yelling, retreating, projecting, eating a bag of potato chips. It’s only through awareness of our tendencies that we can change them.

The last grant I managed while on staff with a nonprofit brought me to tears, many times. The entire project was a hot mess for two years. (I can’t even bear to tell you the story because it still makes my stomach hurt. Suffice to say I was the third project manager for the project in the span of six months; and on our last call, I ended up with 6 more hours of work because the funder’s intern wanted additional data.) The grant cycle finally ended.

The organization re-applied for funding from the same grantor. Luckily I didn’t have to work on that next project. Whenever we discussed it at internal meetings, however, I immediately flushed with embarrassment and felt the shame of working on that project. I felt like I had failed because I couldn’t fix it and make it not a hot mess. Shame is my go-to reaction whenever I don’t do something perfectly, when I’m not the shining star (I’m a classic 3/Achiever with a Helper wing on the Enneagram in many ways). My face gets flush and I feel my stomach attempt to jump into my feet. Each time shame creeps in, I’m usually telling myself something like: you didn’t do this right. You should have been able to fix this. Of course you messed this up again. Who am I to think I should work in nonprofits when I can’t even figure out one grant. 

I’m telling you, this Shaming Stefanie is a real jerk.

Instead I must take many moments to quiet that loud voice that tells me I’m not good enough to do the work. I must allow the voice of reason and observation to take charge. This more rationale, compassionate version of me says things like: You did the best you could with the information you had. This isn’t completely your responsibility to fix. You added a level of clarity that didn’t exist before. You communicated well your concerns and how to fix them. You’ve managed more complex grants before; this was just a special situation.

Get your needs met

By being aware of when shame is ruling my actions, I can change it. It’s the same with the other needs we need met, too. Human Needs Psychology was developed in partnership between a highly trained, revered psychotherapist, Chloe Madanes, and the world’s most famous coach, Tony Robbins. It says that we all have six basic needs but we all prioritize them a bit differently, and at different times in our lives:

  • Certainty/comfort: a need for safety and concern for physical and psychological survival
  • Uncertainty/variety: balancing the routine aspects of life with stimulating our senses and our minds
  • Significance: feeling important and accepted by others. We want to matter.
  • Love and connection: to love others and to allow ourselves to be loved
  • Growth: the need to realize our own potential, to have progress, and bring out the best in ourselves
  • Contribution: we all need to give, to help others, and to care for interests beyond ourselves

For nonprofiteers and social entrepreneurs, no doubt, “contribution” is probably higher on our lists than for most people. There’s no getting around the fact that we need ALL of them met, however, albeit in varying degrees, in order to feel alive and fulfilled. Here’s a quick way to see if you’re getting all of your needs met, and to what degree:

  1. For each need, take a moment to write down all the positive ways in which that need is being filled for you.
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your level of satisfaction with how that need is being met.
  3. Set a goal: identify the rating you’d prefer to have for that need in 3 months.
  4. List the specific action steps you’ll take to raise your satisfaction.

If your need for Significance is currently at a 4 and you want it to be at a 6 in three months, write down the clear things you can do to raise your satisfaction: find a volunteering program where you can meet one-on-one with someone; ask your significant other or your closest friends why they value you; give out 3 free hugs each day to make someone else smile. You deserve to have your needs met.

Now it’s your turn.

How do you ensure you continue to grow in your life?