Notwithstanding the whiny, self-aggrandising neediness of Extinction Rebellion, who this week must have felt pretty stupid gluing themselves to an eco-friendly, multiple-occupancy electric bus in protest at carbon emissions, we have got to admit that we are all, all of us, needy.

Psychologists and pseudo-psychologists are agreed on one thing. All human beings have needs.

Abram Maslow created his hierarchy of needs, which showed us first of all that we have needs, then that they ‘flow’ from basic physical safety, through connection, usefulness and eventually to self-transcendence (service), and finally that one met need no longer drives us, so we have to move up the pyramid.


Tony Robbins, leading coach, suggested we have 6 needs – certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth and contribution. And Hyrum W. Smith and Stephen Covey essentially narrowed the list all the way down to four needs – to Live (physiological/economical), to Love (socio-emotional connection), to Learn (mental) and to Leave a Legacy (contribution and meaning, or spirituality).

For his part, and following on from the last couple of posts in terms of connecting goals to values, Covey made a few observations.

Firstly, that we clever intellectuals have a nasty habit of compartmentalising our activities by connecting them to only one of the four needs. For example, our job is physical/economical and is something to be endured so as to feed and clothe our families. Our hobbies are strictly mental, keeping our minds active. We love those we are supposed to (friends and family) but tolerate everyone else. You get the picture – each activity serves only one need.

In our heads.

But Covey also opined that when we start to combine needs as applied to tasks, we start to improve our performance of those activities. If we decide to involve others in our hobbies, we create new relationships which in turn make hobby-time more satisfying. If we than add some kind of contribution, e.g. by joining and involving ourselves in a specialist hobby group, we enhance our enjoyment and performance even further. And if we can get paid to do that – all four needs are satisfied in one activity.

Covey called that ideal – when what we do ‘feeds’ us physically, socially, intellectually and in terms of meaning – The Fire Within.

Do you have such a flame burning inside you?

Now, turn it upside down for a moment. If fulfilment of all four needs is the ideal, what happens when a need isn’t being met?

We worry, we fret, we get depressed and ill. All the other needs start to suffer. It’s like a cancer, spreading its nastiness from the initial, single-need ‘cause’ into the all-encompassing, the ‘collateral’.

Going even deeper, in the sense that everything we do requires an activity of one kind or another and in a question that one can ask oneself, he asked:

“Can you think of any time management problem that isn’t connected at the root to fulfilling one of those needs?”

Think on that for 24 hours. I’m going to, and I’ll provide my thoughts in tomorrow’s blog.