Where am I and what is going on? Recently woke up in my new home for the first time, it was accompanied by a little jolt of concern – followed by adrenaline – as I came around from the unconscious state
My wife and I are entrepreneurs, and we had spent almost the past four months living in my father-in-law’s basement while typical startup business challenges, a red-hot Denver real estate market, and today’s byzantine mortgage regulations held us captive. During that time, I’d lay in bed thinking how thirteen stairs, two barking dogs, and a man who deserved both respect and a good nights sleep was all that kept us from living the life we really wanted to be living.
Now I wake up every morning and thank God for our home, but gratitude isn’t the most profound insight I’ve gained from this experience. What I am really struck by is the way that – no matter how many books I’ve read, no matter how much insight I may have gained into the glorious, devious ways of the human mind and soul – some thing or objective would be a solution to myriad problems.
I don’t want to diminish the idea that some things really do create a lot of leverage in our lives. A job, a paycheck, when you lack one, can solve a lot of issues – I love the quote attributed to marketing guru Kevin Nations that “money can only solve the problems caused by the lack of it.” A place to live? Same thing.
But where this thinking tends to fall down is when we do what I call “jumping Maslow”: We attribute the acquisition of things from lower down on what Abraham Maslow called the Hierarchy of Needs with the more transcendent ideals at the top of the list of needs.
Back in 1954, Maslow published a book called Motivation and Personality, where he posited that humans have a hierarchy of needs. Marrian-Webster defines a hierarchy as “a system in which people or things are placed in a series of levels with different importance or status.”
The easiest way I can simplify this universal ordering of needs is to picture an arrow pointing from left to right. On the left are basic needs like food and shelter; in the middle are needs such as safety and belonging, and and on the right are more lofty and intangible needs like self-esteem and personal growth.
So then, what I mean by my term “jumping Maslow” is the way people associate one of the items from a lower status with the fulfillment described much higher on the list.
I’ll just say it straight: Jumping Maslow is dangerous. It’s what keeps people in bondage to the idea that she’s going to come back and fix everything, or the idle hopes of winning the lottery. It robs us of the creative energy that comes from being dissatisfied enough with our path to fulfillment to do something about it.
In my case it was a nice home in which to live and work, but it could be a 50-inch HDTV or season tickets. What is it for you?
So, let’s face it – we’ve all said things like “Once I have ____________ (fill in the blank) I’ll be happy/successful/accomplished.” That kind of thought is a lie from the enemy of your life. The success-minded person must be vigilant for these corrosive ideas. Close your eyes, drag it to the trash icon on the computer screen in your mind, and hit “Securely Empty Trash”.