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Andy Coleyshaw

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Here we look at one view; Why is Personal Development Important?

There are many ideas surrounding personal development, one of which is Abraham Maslow’s process of self-actualisation.

Self-Actualisation

Maslow (1970) suggests that all individuals have an in-built need for personal development which occurs through a process called self-actualisation.

The extent to which people are able to develop depends on certain needs being met and these needs form a hierarchy.  Only when one level of need is satisfied can a higher one be developed.  As change occurs throughout life, however, the level of need motivating someone’s behaviour at any one time will also change.

  • At the bottom of the hierarchy are the basic physiological needs for food, drink, sex and sleep, i.e., the basics for survival.
  • Second are the needs for safety and security in both the physical and economic sense.
  • Thirdly, progression can be made to satisfying the need for love and belonging.
  • The fourth level refers to meeting the need for self-esteem and self-worth. This is the level most closely related to “Self-empowerment”.
  • The fifth level relates to the need to understand. This level includes more abstract ideas such as curiosity and the search for meaning or purpose and a deeper understanding.
  • The sixth relates to aesthetic needs of beauty, symmetry and order.
  • Finally, at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy is the need for self-actualisation.

Maslow (1970, p.383) says that all individuals have the need to see themselves as competent and autonomous, also that every person has limitless room for growth.

Self-actualisation refers to the desire that everybody has ‘to become everything that they are capable of becoming’. In other words, it refers to self-fulfilment and the need to reach full potential as a unique human being.

For Maslow, the path to self-actualisation involves being in touch with your feelings, experiencing life fully and with total concentration.

Maslow, A. H. (1970), Motivation and Personality, (2nd Edition), Harper & Row, New York


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