Climbing Maslow’s Ladder: PART 2 – Episode 050



If you haven’t heart PART 1 of this two part series I suggest you STOP RIGHT NOW and go back and LISTEN!

In part 1 I discuss how Maslow did not intend for his Hierarchy of Needs (HON) to be displayed or showcased as a Pyramid. There is actual evidence that lends itself to believe that it was created by a consulting firm in order to provide a visually appealing way to package his idea!

However, if there was to be a visual, the closest visual would most likely be a ladder.

Why a ladder?

When one is on a ladder, you are on several rungs of the ladder at the same time, which visually represents more accurately the complexity of our needs. i.e. We will go without some basic physiological needs if we can receive or give love.  As a parent or a teacher we know this all to well! What wouldn’t a parent give up for their children? But this choice to prioritize a “higher” need above a “lower” need cannot be fully expressed in the Pyramid visual representation! The Pyramid diagram does not lend itself to this type of interpretation, as the Pyramid is well defined, static, and gives the impression that like the steps on a pyramid, one must climb one rung to reach another.

This is not true to the spirit of Maslow’s teachings, nor it is an accurate representation of the human condition!

Human beings are much more complicated than that; and different people prioritize different needs differently. Which is why the ladder visual is much more appealing

With this new understanding of how Maslow’s HON being represented as a Pyramid is not true to his original ideas, now it is really important to acknowledge the full range of our humanity, and now viewing the HON visually as a ladder is the closest to viewing a true representation of his ideas, one question remains; how?

How do we go about reaching the highest need we humans have (according to Maslow) as expressing our truest potential?

It boils down to our self awareness

In his famous book Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goldman brought to the forefront the idea that our “emotional intelligence” is actually MORE important than our intellectual abilities.

In fact, in Daniel Goldman says in his book of self-awareness:

Self-awareness—recognizing a feeling as it happens —is the keystone of emotional intelligence.

In education right now you hear over and over again how important it is for us to use social-emotional learning (SEL)! Its the buzzword of our current time! And what is Social Emotional Learning? It is the ability to model appropriate emotions in class, it is reflecting empathy back to our students, and it is the ability to create a safe environment for our students to learn and engage in.  However, without the fully developed self-awareness of the teacher in the classroom, it is almost impossible for this type of learning environment to be fostered!

If teachers walk into their classrooms, burdened by the weight of their personal and professional responsibilities, carrying with them their own personal issues, and then are expected to put on smiling brave faces for their students, and are expected to create engaging and meaningful experiences, build relationships, and somehow maintain positive professional relationships, and then go BACK to their own personal lives, and manage their own lives with empathy and kindness and a clear mind…. how can they do that, how can WE do that, without knowing who we are in every aspect of that situation?

Who are we? Who are you? Who are you when your having trouble with your spouse, when your kids do not listen to you, when your students are ignoring you, when you walk down a hall and pass another teacher?

Our world is so distracting; it takes so much away from us. Especially in this social media driven world; it’s almost inescapable!  From the moment we wake up, our phones and the world take our attention away from us, then our loved ones, then our students and admin during our day, then back at home… its exhausting! Teachers give and give and give of themselves so much because the responsibility of teaching is actually an act of love! To teach is to love!

When you teach, you give of yourself because you are trying to impart some kind of wisdom and knowledge to another human being so their lives can be better for it. Teaching is an act of love!

What does this have to do with self-awareness?  EVERYTHING!

So many teachers feel that their ability to be effective in the classroom has to do with lessons, planning, activities, technology, etc. The majority agree that in order to be effective in the classroom, one must build relationships with your students.

But how can you build and create a relationship with your students if you do not have a relationship with yourself? Or a good healthy relationship with yourself? Do you even know why you do what you do? Why you feel what you feel? Why your response to certain things is the way it is?

Without a genuine sense of clarity, recognizing your own emotions, your own feelings, your own truth about you, its very difficult for anyone to build relationships with others. ESPECIALLY YOUR STUDENTS!

And why is this so difficult? Why is it so difficult to build relationships with your students?

Because your students are possibly the most self aware humans that ever existed in the history of human beings!  My argument is that because they are growing up seeing themselves more than any other human has ever seen themselves, they are constantly catered to as far as their interests through technology and social media, they are recording their thoughts and feeling and emotions at such a young age, forever memorializing them in the ether of the internet, they have a much different way of looking at themselves and the world!

Because of technology, our students and the generations to come, will all have their world catered to them in ways that never existed before. They are FULLY self-aware! They have a deep sense of themselves, who they are, what their thoughts are, so much so, that I argue this is part of the reason why we need to develop our own self awareness!

Because they need us to be just as self ware as they are

From our perspective as adults, childhood and adolescence seems to be a time where children are completely self involved; you might argue self absorbed. And this is true to a certain degree! After all, kids and teenagers want what they want when they want it! They are constantly testing their own theories about themselves and the world, and trying to understand their place in it.  Add social media & technology to the mix, and you have this “self-absorption” amplified 100X.

The problem? No one to help guide them or to help make sense of it. Or better yet, no one to understand them and help them feel that they are not alone. It is easy to write off their “self absorption” as being spoiled and selfish and “rotten” on some level. Sure! Why not cast out this younger generation before they had a chance to grow their brains and mature! So many adults see them as self absorbed.

But take a minute! Take a step back!

When YOU walk into the classroom, and all you think about is YOUR problems and YOUR anxieties and YOUR worries… and when YOU get upset that things aren’t falling into place… why is that any different?

Self awareness is the tool that you need to develop in order for you to be effective no only in your personal life but especially in your time in the classroom. When you are in tune with yourself you develop an uncanny ability to be effective with your environment and with those in your environment

The definition for self awareness used in My Self Driven Classroom Course is this:

  • The capacity to recognize and accept your thoughts, language, and actions as your own, separate from your environment and the individuals in your environment. 
  • The capacity to recognize and accept your environment and the individuals in your environment, separate from your own thoughts, language, and actions.

When you are able to simply identify your own thoughts language and actions as separate from those in your environment, and see them as separate, and accept them as separate, it changes the way you approach your students. You no longer feel the need to respond, and instead, you can engage. It develops what I call your emotional fitness and allows you the freedom to come into the classroom without the personal burdens that we sometimes carry because you have identified and acknowledge your feelings about them

And this is exactly why seeing Maslow’s HON as a pyramid was fault and felt short of what he really meant; because we are all actually on a ladder. And if you have EVER been on a ladder in real life, in order to successfully navigate that ladder, you HAVE to be fully self aware! You HAVE to be fully aware of each and every step that you take on that ladder; you have to have a great sense of inner balance, a sense of where you are on the ladder, where you hands and feet are; WERE YOU ARE! Because the second you become distracted or lose concentration while you are on the ladder, you can easily fall off.

You need to develop your self awareness.

The more self aware you are, the better you can manage yourself and your personal business. Imagine a life where you are more in tune with what you spend your money on and don’t impulse by, where you can save time at school getting things done, and have more time for your loved ones. Imagine a time where you model this self awareness for your students, and your students begin modeling self awareness for themselves, and thus start taking control over their own learning! Imagine the mental and emotional pain you will no longer have to endure when all of your students are excited to see you and excited for the lesson you are about to bring them, that they know and feel will enhance their lives! Imagine walking into a classroom and feeling LOVED and appreciated by your students everyday! Forming close relationships with your fellow teachers because you know where you are on the ladder, you know where you needs and wants are, and you know how to climb it because you are totally in tune with yourself, and know who you are.

Click on any of the links on my social media pages or below to get my free pdf on my top five tips to get started, or if you are ready for a new transformation and to really develop yourself awareness, click on the link in my profile and enroll now into my online course The Self Driven Classroom; and take the first step to becoming the Queen Bee of your classroom!

Ill leave you with this quote from Daniel Goldman, the man who WROTE the book on Emotional Intelligencell

At present we leave the emotional education of our children to chance, with ever more disastrous results. One solution is a new vision of what schools can do to educate the whole student, bringing together mind and heart in the classroom… I can foresee a day when education will routinely include inculcating essential human competencies such as self-awareness, self-control, and empathy, and the arts of listening, resolving conflicts, and cooperation

– Daniel Goldman Emotional Intelligence

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