What makes a human truly happy? Essentially, it begins with meeting the basic needs for sustenance of life. But once a need is fulfilled or accomplished, it gets replaced by more complex needs leading to upliftment of the human being to a higher level of understanding and spiritual growth.
In the natural scheme of things, the basic needs of an individual are mainly physiological which include food, water and bodily comforts. Once these are achieved, the next craving is for safety and security followed by love and belonging. Human beings need acceptance in a society and want to belong to a group or country.
The needs then get more complex, as a person wants to achieve, gain approval and get recognition leading to self-esteem.
Beyond these fundamental needs, is the need to know, to understand and to explore. This quest leads one towards creativity and beauty, which are the aesthetic needs.
Gradually, a person enters into the self-actualisation mode, a need to realise one’s potential, a need to connect and become more and more of what one is.
However, the progression need not be in the same order and can vary among individuals. For example, for one person, self-esteem may be more important than love and belonging. For another, creative fulfilment may be more important than security. All these simple and complex needs in a nutshell describe Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation. ‘What a man can be, he must be’, is the underlying philosophy of self-actualisation. In simple terms, it means fulfilling one’s individual potential.
In this hierarchy of needs, it is to be noted that moving up each rung requires some skills for professional development. To meet the basic physiological needs, a person has to earn his livelihood.
Thus, at the very beginning, individuals choose their profession. They then rise up the ladder gratifying each successive need which would lead them to the final aspiration of self-actualisation.
This self-actualisation is a process that motivates individuals into developing their potential. Moving higher and higher towards self-fulfilment would require continuous inner motivation.
The gratification of the basic needs brings an urge in individuals to focus more towards excellence on the professional front. They identify their area of profession, work on it, create a niche for themselves and look at growth on the professional ladder. The ultimate aim in professional development is self-actualisation bringing gratification and happiness in one’s chosen profession.
In the process of acquiring self-actualisation, individuals develop and display certain characteristics that enrich their professional development. These traits make them leaders and an inspiration to others in their profession or organisation.
Realistic: Self-actualised persons have a realistic perception of themselves, others and the world which brings about balance in judgement and leadership.
They develop equanimity in their treatment of people irrespective of the background or level in the organisation.
Goal-oriented: Motivated people never shirk their responsibilities and always enjoy solving problems without fear or inhibition. They exhibit a tendency to reach out and help others and are highly ethical. This makes them excellent team leaders guiding their groups towards fulfilment.
Individualistic: A self-actualised person is highly independent, creative, an out-of the-box thinker who believes in autonomy and developing one’s potential. They believe in individual space and privacy although they conform to the societal rules. They thus encourage creativity and innovative ideas in others who belong to their teams.
Spontaneity: This helps in unconventional thinking and behaviour and openness in their dealings with colleagues and peer groups. Spontaneity enhances smooth flow in relationships.
Live in the moment: This main characteristic keeps fears at bay and people who practise this philosophy live life with a sense of awe and appreciation of each moment of life.
They learn to live joyously and this enamours everyone who come in their vicinity. Every moment brings with it an experience that adds to the inspiration and well being of such individuals.
Peak experiences: Maslow terms moments of intense joy and ecstasy as peak experiences. These renew, rejuvenate and transform the individual.
Although professional development is an ongoing process, when clubbed with self-actualisation, it transports people to an elevated spiritual level of being where individuals look upon their profession, their life as a joyous journey and the achievement of a goal as not an end but the beginning of something new.