Monday, May 3, 2021




Maslow's Hierarchy is a model proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943 in an attempt to explain motivation in humans.

It is taught to every college student who takes Psychology 101.

College students, being in that idealistic time-of-life, might remember the basic physical needs look food but they ALWAYS remember "Self-Actualization".

Ferdinand Fourier in his book Coaching for Improved Work Performance is dismissive of Maslow's hierarchy as a tool for managing workers.

Some magnificent piano music to brighten your day. 26 minute play-time

Paraphrasing, Fourier's criticism is that Maslow's implicit basis is that humans are solely motivated by whichever one of these items it rests upon in the moment...or second. The mind flits from thought-to-thought like a pianist's fingers on the keyboard.


My beef with Maslow's Hierarchy is what it morphed into.

Invariably, students graduate with the subconscious belief that to "Self-actualize" is to be more evolved and more refined than the unwashed masses and their goal should be to remain unfettered by anything that will diminish that refinement.

Unfettered of commitments, children and any other attachments that might not continuously stimulate they embark upon an ever upward-arching trajectory of Self-Actualization.

By all means, get another advanced degree, take another cruise to Outer Elbownia, fly to Sydney OZ to have cocktails with your buddy, ski down Mt McKinley, skin-dive in Tabuan-Lasa. But never, never, never get locked into a commitment.

We are born ADHD and daffy. Socialization teaches us to shut gates, put things back, keep promises and all of those mundane things are not about "Self-actualization" but are all about not screwing the next guy who comes along.

My gut-feel is that Maslow's "Self-Actualization" was a hasty afterthought. I think he felt a need for a capstone and asked his associate "Livingstone...what do you do when you have met all of your commitments at the end of the month and cannot fall asleep?"


"Why, Doctor Maslow, I attempt to tie the perfect Royal Coachman fly on #18 Mustad nymph hook." Livingston replied.

"Why do you do that, Livingstone?" Maslow asked.

"Because it is the one thing I do by myself. I do it when everybody else is asleep. Tying flies is the hardest, most demanding thing I can do."

"Hmmm. I think I will call that 'Self-actualization'. Bully for you Livingstone. I think I can publish this paper, now."

It would not bother me in the least if they stopped teaching Maslow's Hierarchy of self-absorption in Universities. No, not the least little-bit.


  1. Prior to attending the Strategic Air Commands Non Commissioned Officers Academy in 1978, I had a couple years of College under my belt and had a passing familiarity with Maslow. I still remember My instructor, a Chief Master sergeant, explaining Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. His definition of self actualization was quite prosaic. "If you are an aircraft mechanic, be the best one you can be, live up to your potential". At the time I didn't think he understood, but in retrospect, I think he understood better than me. Being married, a dad and an Airforce sergeant by the time I was 21 never gave me the opportunity to be totally self absorbed like some folks who hope to find their self actualization across the next ocean or mountain. I've seen more than one person bolix up a serviceable marriage or job looking for some mystical fulfillment.

  2. My criticism of Maslow:


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