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Basic Human Needs

8 Jun 2015 | Being Human

Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

When it comes to productivity and performance, we so often focus on the higher levels – fulfilment, achievement, purpose – but what happened to our basic human needs?

Why is it that we think we can sacrifice sleep as long as we have enough self-fulfilment or that prestige will compensate for a lack of close relationships?

Or that we can do our best thinking on one glass of water a day?

It’s true that the higher needs are our true motivators – the more we get, the more it fuels our motivation. Maslow referred to the lower levels as “deficiency needs” – strong drivers when unmet, but once they are met, they no longer fuel us.

Once we have enough food or sleep, getting more generally doesn’t really excite us! But we do need to meet them – our basic human needs.

Which of your basic human needs do you tend to overlook?


  1. Catherine Doel

    Water, every time! And what is more, I have discovered that if I am dehydrated it badly affects my sleep… which obviously has a knock on effect! Interesting reminder Grace, and excellent diagram. Have a good week.

    • Grace Marshall

      Great observation Catherine! Amazing how something so simple can make such a difference. Thanks for sharing!


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About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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