if you have eelearning bookmarked or visit it regularly, you may have noticed that i haven’t posted to my blog in a while. unfortunately, the reason has been a real personal lesson on how true maslow’s hierarchy of motivation really is.
a short refresher on maslow, if you’ve forgotten. maslow held that there are five levels of human fulfillment that drive our behaviors. each level can be identified by the motivations which drive us to fulfill that level. the chart on the left demonstates these levels and the motivations for each.
each successive level is dependent upon the fulfillment of the previous level. without the previous level being fulfilled, a person will not have the motivation to seek to fulfill the successive level. thus without fulfillment of safety and physiological needs, a person will find it very difficult to find the motivation to achieve self-esteem.
blogging, like i do with eelearning, fits in the realms of esteem and self-actualization. the true power of blogging has been identified as its role as an outlet of self-expression and the corresponding response by readers which allows for creativity and reflection of respect from those who read the blogger’s posts. it is a powerful means for building identity and spontaneously expressing one’s feelings and knowledge. in maslow’s hierarchy it is clearly a luxury for those who have met the needs of the more baser needs of human existence.
life over the past few months has demonstrated the truth of maslow’s hierarchy to me. as happens to just about everyone from time to time in their life, the foundations of my life have required my attention quite a bit recently. the struggles of a job search, my father’s imminent death, financial insecurity and related stresses have created demands that have had my motivations focused much more at the physiological and safety levels of the hierarchy than they have been in a very long time.
what i’m learning from this experience is another aspect that rises from maslow’s theory. it’s important to temporarily let go of the expectations of fulfilling the needs of the higher levels in order to focus our strength and efforts in shoring up the needs of the lower levels. pretending that i can fulfill my needs of esteem or self-actualization while I’m doing the work to make sure i keep a roof over my and my dog’s heads is foolhardy, incredibly frustrating, and, in the end, self-defeating.
why do i bring this up here in eelearning?
for a number of reasons. some selfish and others are motivated by those desires that drive any true educator. the selfish reasons include the need to explain my absence, the need to let my friends know that i’ve been struggling and also that i’m surviving. it is also, as bloggers have found over and over again, therapeutic to “put it out there.” there is nothing shameful about what i’ve been going through, but my ego sure wants to convince me otherwise sometimes.
but i’m also motivated to share because i’ve been working to make sense of what lessons i can draw from my experience. sometimes life just decides to take us in directions we aren’t expecting. but, i’ve found, it doesn’t take us anywhere we’re not prepared to go. whether we knew we were prepared or not is a totally different question. maslow’s insight is dead on regarding the need for our baser needs to be met before we are able to dedicate our efforts to higher order needs.
finally, as an learning professional, it is vital for me to understand that the learners i seek to help are subject to the same ability or inability to focus on higher order tasks depending on how stable their lives – both at work and home – are. if an employee is unsure of their employment status due to major organizational changes or performance issues, they are likely to be focused on whether or not they will have a job in a month. if it’s not clear to them that the learning i’m trying to drive is going to solidify their employment situation, then i’m never going to get their attention.
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