Maslow’s Eight Keys to Higher Self-Actualization

Posted By: Margie Babon



Man is both the marble and the sculptor- Dr. Alexis Carrel

Every person has the desire to accomplish everything, whether for personal life or professional success. “What a man can be, he must be,” the basis of perceived needs for self-actualization according to American psychologist Abraham Maslow.

Self-actualization is part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory on fulfilling innate human needs on culminating self-potentials.  Maslow also believes in the importance of focusing on the positive character and attitude of people rather than focusing on the weakness side.  He devised the term “metamotivation” which is beyond the basic needs of people for a continuous and persistent growth to success.


An interpretation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs represents as a pyramid that suggests human needs will only be fulfilled one level at a time. (source, Wikipedia). Hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation. (Reference, Wikipedia). The


According to Maslow, in order to understand self-actualization, one must not only achieve self-esteem, fulfill the needs of love and belonging, to be secured and meet physiological needs, but a person must master all the levels and stages of growth in order to achieve greatest potentials.

Here are the eight keys of Maslow to a higher self- actualization which I further explain the best that I can be yet, by reviewing it towards our own life and reflect each key, we are taking steps to meet our own ladder to  higher self-actualization.


1.       Experience things fully, vividly, selflessly, concentrate on it fully, throw yourself fully and let it absorb you.

This is what life coach and spiritual gurus are telling us, “always be at the present moment,”  “enjoy the Now,” for us to appreciate life to the fullest. We need to focus and eliminates distractions whether mental or physical.  This is a skill that can be developed over time; even there are distractions around us, if we engage fully to the task in front of us, we no longer hear or being affected by any interruptions and circumstances.  This is what you call, “The art of wherever you are, being there fully.”  


2.      Life is an on-going process of choosing between safety, out of fear and need, for defense and risk for the sake of growth. 

We are born either to be a risk-taker or to be safe and comfortable. Living each and every day has a lot of risk and we just don’t notice it. Like asking for a discount in a store, should I take my medicine or not, should I choose to spend time with my daughter or should I choose to work over-time, and so on. Whatever the risk we are dealing with, it is always a matter of proper choices which leads to our growth and happy life.


3.     Let the self emerge, try out to shut external clues as to what you should think, say and so on.

We are all individuals having different potentials and weaving our own path to the success that we want. We cannot compare our self to other of what they have and what we don’t have. Most, we cannot compare our level of skills and competency to one another. As what Marshall Goldsmith says, “Stop living other people’s lives and start living yours.”   Shutting down external clues are people’s expectations and negative feedback that somehow affect our identity that could be the opposite of who we are inside. As what Steve Jobs has paraphrased, “Why join a navy if you can be a pirate.” We should not be afraid to explore our own self and discover more of what we can do. We must keep on going and never be satisfied on what we achieve and stay in a plateau, being stagnant and not growing which makes life boring. As what Marshall Goldsmith says, “Don’t live to a vicarious satisfaction.”


4.    When in doubt be honest.

Honesty is the best tool in life not only in dealing with business or work but it is far significant in relationship esp. towards our own self. And that honesty within us only means “responsibility.”

Being responsible is the highest act of self-actualization. I really can’t understand why people keep asking question, “Why is this happening to me?” without looking at the cause and effect of what they are doing of their own life. As what Jim Rohn says, “It is easy not to do.”  And not doing so causes us unhappiness at the end because honesty requires total hard work.


5.      Listen to your own taste and be prepared to be unpopular.

This is connected with number 3 Let the self emerge.  Choose daily activities that will contribute to your growth. A lot of people are following the herd. They do what is famous; they wear what is fashionable, trendy and popular. And what is popular is common. Self-motivation is about working hard towards self-growth and doing what is common doesn’t motivate you. Is there a rule of eating at 12-1 at the office where you can choose to eat later and make that one hour productive. Be your own unique self. Jim Rohn implies, “If you want extra-ordinary achievement, walk-away from 97%, don’t use their vocabulary, don’t use their excuses. Don’t use their drift of method and regret and join the 3% and take charge of your own life.”


6.      Use your intelligence, work to do well on things you want to do no matter how insignificant it may be. 

“Success is the result of thousands of tiny accomplishments that nobody notices,” explained by Brian Tracy in his audio book Time Power. Our own dreams are insignificant to other people. Some people cannot understand the path that you want, some will discourage you and some will annoy you. No matter how small or tiny the task that we are doing, we must always do our best, if we don’t we are not serious of what we want to achieve in life. And that leads to frustrations, regrets and blame. Intelligence is something that we must sharpen every day, as we work effectively and productively, we can measure our own strength and potentials.


7.       Make peak experiences. Get rid of illusions and false notions; learn what you are good at and what potentiality you are not.

From the book of Mark Buckingham entitled Now Discover Your Strength, he define strength as “consistent and near perfect performance in an activity.”  Consistent means doing it repeatedly over time, near perfect means intrinsic practice of your strength combining knowledge and skills. To discover your strength is by exploring your unique self on what activity you are rapidly learning. Strength is different from talent. Some people who have talent do not develop strength; they do not practice that talent which builds core competency. To make peak experiences, one must be in harmony with his goals and his surroundings working within the circle of core competence and working on the strength zone until it reach its mastery.


8.        Find out  who you are, what you are, what you like, and don’t like, what is good and bad for you, know where you’re going, know what  your mission is, open yourself  up in this way, identifying defenses and  finding the courage not to give up. 

Millions of people around the planet are not worried of what they will eat, what they will get, what to wear or how much money they will accumulate but they are far more concern of discovering their own purpose in life. Life is about directions and transparent list of what we want to accomplish which leads to discovering purpose and identity.  “Identity is something not to get stuck with, identity changes as you develop your own potentiality. The first step is to look at the mirror, and ask what is meaningful for me, what makes me happy?” according to Marshall Goldsmith. Knowing what you want and what you don’t want is about honesty that eliminates doubts. Doing and pursuing what we want without entertaining doubts is about not giving up and this is where passion comes into– the passion of creating identity, reputation and legacy.


Maslow’s theory on self-actualization people:

“Self-actualizing people have clear senses of what is true and what is false, they are spontaneous, creative and not bound too strictly by social conventions. Self-actualizing people share the following qualities of truth, goodness, beauty, wholeness, acceptance, aliveness, unique, perfection, necessity, completions, order, simplicity, richness (complexity), effortlessness, playfulness and self-sufficiency. These individuals were comfortable being alone and had healthy relationships. They had only few close friends and family rather than a large number of shallow relationships.” (source, Wikipedia)


To follow and take actions on Maslow’s eight keys to higher level of self-actualization is  truly challenging which takes discipline, persistence, bravery and wit.  Self-actualization is achieving a balance life. It is about working on ourselves each and every single day to become responsible of who we are what we are and what directions we are heading that will lead to peak experiences, growth of potentials and happiness.

“Be open to self-discovery, so a thought reap an action, action reap a habit, a habit leads to destiny.”  -Steven Covey, author, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The self is not something one finds; it is something one creates- Thomas Szasz




Abraham Harold Maslow(April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. He grew up in libraries and books and developed love for learning and reading.





Darren Hardy, Success Magazine 2014 issue


About the Author

Margie Babon was given a privilege to be a wildlife photographer in 2006 that let her choose to become a vegetarian for seven years now. Has background in film making as a producer and researcher on the plight of Agta-Dumagat documentary film Children of the Mountains that garnered the Mark Haslam Awardee in 2005 in Toronto, Canada. Sharing her passion in drawing & creative writing  is a great opportunity to express her wisdom  which is far beyond the teaching career for more than five years in College of Architecture and School of Fine Arts in Manila.



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