The 6 Human Needs

Ever wonder why certain job and life situations are fulfilling and others are not?  Understanding what your most important Human Needs are will provide you with insight to help you create fulfillment in both your professional and personal life.

As many of you know, I am a big Tony Robbins fan and recently attended his signature program, Unleash the Power Within, along with my 3 kids and husband and 12,000 other attendees.  One of the key concepts we learned at this 4-day program was the importance of understanding which of the 6 Human Needs drive us:

Certainty is our primal need to feel safe and have control over things in our lives. When I work with candidates whose primary need is Certainty, changing jobs is very stressful because there will be a lot of uncertainty that comes with the move, even when ultimately it is the right decision career-wise.  Although we all need some certainty in our lives to feel safe and functional; complete certainty results in losing our edge and a lack of opportunity for growth.

Uncertainty/Variety is what most of us crave when we feel a high level of control and boredom starts to set in. We can add variety and uncertainty to our lives by playing extreme sports or creating drama at work.  Sometimes we have unwelcomed uncertainty in our lives, like the the loss of a job or health issues.  The best way to get through these types of uncertain situations is to remind yourself of the many challenges you have mastered in your life and to tap into your resilience and resourcefulness to get through this one.

Significance is the 3rd Human Need. This can be a positive driver or a negative one. When we aspire to be known for our unique talents in order to use them to help others, that’s a positive use of significance. When we need to feel important above all else and we might tear others down and criticize them to elevate ourselves, it’s a negative application of Significance.  Please be on the lookout for this when hiring, because someone whose primary need is Significance will have a hard time putting the team’s and Firm’s needs above their own.  Having learned this, I ask every candidate we interview what motivates them. When I hear things that remotely sound like “I need to be important” a red flag goes off and I don’t hire or represent this candidate.  If Significance is someone’s 3rd or 4th ranked need, my worry dispels!

Connection/Community Feeling connected to others, whether it’s through mentoring, volunteering or having very close personal relationships, is a key driver for those whose primary Human Need is for Connection. I see this in candidates who tell me that a “sense of belonging” is what they value most from their job. I can also hear this from Directors who get great joy from watching their team members develop professionally and stay in touch with former employees throughout their careers.  I have also worked with Firms where the Partners put Firm needs and their connection to the institution above their individual agendas, and you can see how clearly this impacts their culture.

Growth is the 5th Human Need, and Tony always attributes this one to happiness. He says if you’re not growing you’re dying! Have you ever noticed that some people are always actively learning and taking classes?  A constant desire to learn and grow is something most employers tell me they value in candidates.

Contribution is the 6th Human Need.  This driver leads people to serve others. I see this need in play in those who are driven to deliver exceptional client service. Candidates who take great pride in serving others inside or outside the Firm, or making the world better place by volunteering, evidence that Contribution is a primary Human Need for them.

So how do we apply this knowledge of our Human Needs to our lives?   We are highly motivated to do things that meet 4 or more of our Human Needs. For me, I find traveling and conducting training programs extremely fulfilling! When I look at why, it’s because my Human Needs for Variety, Significance, Connection, Growth and Contribution are ALL met when I travel, share information I believe will be helpful to others, connect with colleagues and learn from my audience.  On the other hand, there are things I dread, like cleaning the house, because they do not meet any of my Human Needs!

I hope this knowledge of Human Needs will help you to better understand what fulfills you and what does not, and offers some insight to help you make decisions that will allow you to meet your Human Needs and create the life you want!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *