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How to Achieve Self-Actualization and Flourish

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams


How to Achieve Self-Actualization and Flourish


The more an organization can understand and empathize with the key motivators of their employees and customers, the more likely that organization will have sustainable success.~ Chip Conley, author of Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow


Essential Human Needs

Enlightened leaders are likely familiar with the humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow, but do you know how he started developing his ideas of self- actualization?  The horrors of World War II instead inspired Maslow to reflect on a vision of peace and this led to his groundbreaking psychological studies of self-actualizing people.

In the 1950s, psychologist Abraham Maslow questioned the idea that human behavior was purely rat-or pigeon-like. He launched the field of humanistic psychology, proposing that once survival needs were met, people sought to achieve self-mastery and actualization.

He was inspired by his two mentors, anthropologist Ruth Benedict and Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer, whom he admired professionally and personally. He observed that they were at an elevated level of personal development compared to most people. Maslow began taking notes about them and their behavior. This began his lifelong research and thinking, long before the words Positive Psychology were used, about human potential.

Awakening Meaning at Work

Human beings require a sense of belonging in the world, of having a place and of making a contribution. For most, this comes through work. Work is as much about spirit or soul as it is about salary. Even when the salary is seen as the biggest carrot, it is often because the money goes toward raising a family and providing a life for others.

Abraham Maslow, the renowned psychologist, defined the human “hierarchy of needs” on four main levels: security, relationship, self-esteem, and self-actualization. As one’s basic security needs are met─ for food, clothing and shelter─ one progresses on to fulfill other needs. This could be applied to the workplace as well. Once one’s salary fulfills the basics, there is a search to fulfill the needs for satisfying relationships, acquiring self-esteem, and realizing one’s full potential.

From Maslow we know that people well on the path toward living a self-actualized life experience the following:

Self-Actualization Behavior

1. Experiences of "flow" states that represent deep absorption followed by feelings of satisfaction.
2. Make daily choices that move the individual toward growth and away from defensiveness.
3. Listen and learn from one's true self.
4. Demonstrate honesty with self and others.
5. Understand one's own mission and key relationships.
6. Pursue personal growth even if it becomes difficult.
7. Take steps to facilitate personal peak experiences.
8. Engage in regular self-reflection which helps one understand their preferences, identity, strengths, weaknesses, behaviors and habits.
9. Experience and cultivate a sense of specialness or sacredness about existence, one's behavior and relationships.
10. Live fully in the present moment.

Powerful Questions

Executive coaches can ask powerful questions that help clients focus on demonstrating thoughts, actions, habits, and practices to make more of these ten elements manifest. What questions can you ask yourself to demonstrate and experience these self-actualizing behaviors?

Here are some examples of self-actualization promoting questions:

- What specifically will you do today or tomorrow to create deep "flow" experiences?
- What can you repeatedly do or think that will help you grow to be significantly -more accepting and non-defensive in fierce conversations with key others?
- What have you learned about yourself this week by listening deeply to yourself?
- What is deeply important to you about your personal or professional mission.
- Describe a specific peak experience that you will manifest.
- Specifically, how will you ensure that you take more time for reflection and renewal this coming week?
- What do you want to do more of in the coming weeks that contributeto feelings of sacredness, calmness or serenity?

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders become self-actualized and increase well-being? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who are motivated to create organizations that flourish? Enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I on a path to self-actualization?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders grow and develop their full potential.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders achieve self-actualization. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

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