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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Matthews

Where does Coaching fit into your Hierarchy of Needs?

I have noticed in yourself, others and organisations when there is threat or pressure, developmental initiatives and self-care are one of the first things to be cut. This makes me wonder, where does coaching fit in your hierarchy of needs?

Maslow's hierarchy of needs
"Hierarchy of Needs", A H Maslow, 1943

I don't profess to be an expert in economics, neuroscience or psychology, my sharing here is based on my experience of myself, confidants and clients (individuals and organisations) as well as some hunches. Most of my hunches are based on and informed by my ongoing studies of Transactional Analysis with a focus on how people learn and organisational development.

Maslow proposed his hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation", depicted as a pyramid with our most basic needs at the bottom. As you see in the picture above, there are three groups on the right being basic needs, psychological needs and self fulfillment needs. My sense is that for those that are reading this spend a lot of time in the psychological range with increasing time in self-actualisation and some dips into the basic needs range.

My hunch is that when we dip into the basic needs range we can experience some form of the flight, flight, freeze appease reaction, which seems normal as we are probably experiencing an amygdala hijack (Daniel Goleman,1996). Through reflection and practice we can gain increased control of this reaction and come back to a place of response. In doing so we re-engaging our frontal cortex and purposefully navigating ourselves forward.

My experience is that many of us see coaching as a luxury and potentially only relates to "one day when I get around to my self-actualisation", and so firmly place coaching very high up on the hierarchy... which means not that important when dealing with the humdrum of life. This relates to the growth needs, on the farthest right of the picture above.

In my own experience of being coached and coaching others, coaching can be exceptionally valuable when dealing with all levels of the pyramid, with the proviso of life not being actually threatened and traumatised. What becomes apparent to me is that coaching sits alongside the pyramid as a practice that helps you navigate the cycles purposefully and in your own personal flavour of life. This extends the value of coaching into area of dealling deficiency needs from the growth needs.

My hunch is that we cycle through these levels as we move through life, they will show up differently each time and hopefully in an increasingly evolved way. It is valuable then that we know how to purposefully and with awareness increase our ability to navigate our journey of our own pyramid.

If you are interested in exploring your growing awareness of how you navigate your cycles through the pyramid, feel free to contact me, or book a free chemistry session with me now.

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