The Influence of Underlying Needs

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When you think about personal success, what does it mean to you? Do you picture yourself with a promotion or with the ability to make a significant impact in the world? If success means getting a promotion, does the need for a higher salary drive you to seek that advancement, or does it come from a desire to be in charge? Often, the end goal of being successful isn’t as important as the reasons why we value it.

In many ways, human behavior is shaped by a drive to meet unmet needs. As with motivation, Fundamental Needs can inspire actions, goals, or visions of what personal success looks like. Often beyond the obvious reasons for taking a certain course of action lies a fundamental need that drives our behavior.

Whether we are aware of it or not, these behaviors that we exhibit can also communicate our deeper motives to others—even if the message is unintentional or misinterpreted. For instance, someone who’s highly charged at the potential of advancement—with a Fundamental Need of Control—typically leans more heavily into new challenges by becoming outspoken and weighing in on issues and ideas even if outside of their area of focus. To others, this behavior—without the context of what they the individual is trying to achieve—can appear as if the individual is trying to take over other people’s areas of focus.

In this way, a need is being communicated through behavior. However, without an expressed intent or understanding of the situation, this approach might be working against the individual. This is especially true if the path to advancement includes empowering others to take charge and feel ownership over their areas of focus. In turn, this situation could create an adverse impact by negatively shaping people’s perception of this individual when it’s not expressively clear why they’ve chosen to lean in more heavily.

The Fundamental Needs module in your Prism Portrait is a key to understanding not only what needs you’re seeking to meet at this stage in your life, but also how others might view your approach to meeting that need. This week, spend some time in consideration of your primary need. How does your need for Control, Security or Significance shape your behavior? Then consider how your approach might be impacting others around you and ultimately limiting, or advancing your ability to meet that need.

“If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

– Abraham Maslow

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